Back to Basics with Dogs!

It is really heart-breaking to hear some of the reasons why a dog is left at a shelter. It is really heart-breaking to hear the circumstances that some dogs are rescued from, and it is really heart-breaking to see a dog clearly with some serious issues as a result of irresponsible ownership.

While I believe that most of you, if not all of you, are going to relate and will sadly shake your heads at the realities of our society in the context of dog ownership, perhaps you could also pass on some of these really basic thoughts to anybody you know who is contemplating adopting a dog.

  • Puppies grow up! Not exactly a revelation, but it seems that so many cute puppies lose their appeal with growth. Before you get “sucked in” to buying that cute puppy, remember that it is going to grow into an adult. That’s just the way nature works (e.g. just like humans)!
  • Found out what it is! Some idea of it’s breed mix will give you a potential indicator of its adult size. Get a really cute little Anatolian Shepherd puppy, and expect 150lbs of dog to be eventually herding you and your family around!
  • The breed mix will also give you some guidelines as to what characteristics to expect, and what you will need to provide. A large high energy breed is not going to be happy in a 12th floor one bedroom apartment.
  • They live for many years. This means that before buying/adopting a dog, consider whether you really want one in your life for the next 12 years or so. If you have to think about it, then perhaps a pet with a shorter life-span would be more appropriate.
  • Are you prepared to look after the dog? Yes, they do need looking after. Their mental ability is considered approximate to a 3 year old child so they need to be taught boundaries; how to behave in/out of the home; they also need regular health checkups and grooming. Most importantly, and for their physical and emotional health, they need regular exercise and, probably unlike you, they may not care about the weather outside!
  • If you are contemplating a puppy because your 14 year old princess keeps pressuring you to get one (and of course is promising to look after it) – please don’t! When 14 year old princess gets a little older, she will be away from home, but you will still have the dog!
  • Finally (because this is just a basic primer), dogs do have feelings and they do get attached to people and homes. This means that it is quite simply cruel to take a dog that has lived with you for a number if years, and drop it off at your local shelter because you don’t want it around any more!

Unfortunately, dogs cannot advocate for themselves due to language difficulties, but we can certainly advocate on their behalf by simply role modelling, and spreading the message about responsible dog ownership!

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35 thoughts on “Back to Basics with Dogs!

    • Hi Prajakta – I am always perturbed when I hear about an animal being adopted “for the children”… for just the reason you mention. You cannot expect children to understand the ramifications of having a pet, but the parents should be ashamed of themselves for allowing a dog to be neglected when the children get older.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I could not agree more! I love puppies, but they are hard work and you have to be prepared to make the effort in order to have a happy, socialised and (semi) obedient dog. Our shelter provides advice, tip sheets etc for new dog/cat owners but we know that none of it gets followed when that adolescent dog is returned for ‘behavioural’ issues. Owners have even admitted not following the recommendations of shelter staff so the poor dog sits and waits…again. The few months after Christmas is when the shelter sees the return of dogs, no longer cute puppies and school holidays have ended. It is extremely frustrating and I feel for the old dogs and those with separation anxiety, a shelter is such a stressful environment for any animal but they really suffer and it is heartbreaking. I’m not a pushy person, however I am upfront about the need for desexing, socialisation, training and exercise whenever the purchase or adoption of a dog is mentioned. Dogs are family, as are any pets that are taken in to the family home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very good comments, and I would not dispute any of them. Our Humane Society is always receptive to questions about caring for animals, and will freely offer advice. We have used them so much with Ray, and are still in touch with them after 3-1/2 years! I just do not understand why free help and advice is ignored by so many people. I just do not understand why some people cannot grasp the fact that animals do need training, and do get attached to people, and can be devastated when suddenly dropped off at a shelter. The professional assessment that a dog’s mentality replicates that of a 3 year old child is totally overlooked. Would they dump a 3 year old child because it was not behaving?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t understand either, the confusion and distress is often evident in their faces and their body language. I always think of these two things from the 10 Commandments from a dog’s perspective: 1. My life is likely to last 10 to 15 years; any separation from you will be painful for me; and 2. You have your work, your entertainment,and your friends.
        I only have you.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It is very hard to see all the homeless animals in shelters, and good shelters try very hard to make sure they place their animals in good homes. Still, it is amazing to see how thoughtless people can be when it comes to believing pets are disposable items. Once we had a dog turned in because they redecorated their house and it didn’t match. I kid you not….

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      • Yes, after years at volunteering at an open admission shelter, I thought I had heard it all, but that one was unique! The saddest thing is when people have to give up their pets even though they don’t want to. With the crash of ’08, we had lots of people giving up their dogs because they had lost their houses to foreclosure. Another common one is military service, or older people having to go into assisted living and not being able to take their pets with them. Sometimes people want to keep their pets, but they just can’t.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Absolutely Ann. There are certainly reasons which are unfortunate and understandable. They are just “life”… but so many others are just the result of an impulsive, thoughtless and self-centred act. Sadly, when the novelty has worn off, the animal gets dumped!

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I was recently at a shelter to rescue a cat. She was recuperating from a spay surgery in the “unadoptable” room. It was a very nice room with sofas and cat trees. There were about 8 older cats there. They were considered “unadoptable” because they were older or they needed medication. One was recovering from seizures but was managed with meds. One had poor vision. No behavior issues at all. One cat was rescued from a drainage ditch. He was orange and beautiful but old and vision impaired. How cruel that someone would put an indoor declawed cat out when they are old. Human behavior continues to stun me and not in a good way. I did not visit the dog section but I’m sure there were equally sad stories.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Shelter visits can be very stressful, but then we must not shut out these examples of humans thinking no further than their own personal comfort; that pets are a disposable commodity; that bunnies, kittens and puppies are so cute today, but tomorrow… dump them! If that totally selfish, thoughtless and insensitive attitude is allowed to permeate more into our society, then I think that we ( or more likely my children’s generation) could be in deep trouble.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Karen – Having had rabbits, and cats, in my past… yes, they are also horribly abused by many people who just see them as objects that can be bought on a whim, and disposed off as necessary. Our culture leaves so much to be desired in this context, but we can just keep “spreading the word”! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Every year shortly after Easter, the bunny arrive. Not toys, live creatures and they don’t like wire floors. (although the love to nibble electric cords.) And they always get bigger than they predict and can break their back when they thrash and wiggle when being held.
        There are always plenty that need adopting…or even better let the child go to the shelter and help cuddle/care for the bunnies, puppies and kitties there.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I really have a problem with bunnies being sold at Easter, and for other holidays/special days being used to promote kittens and puppies. A lot of animal abuse would seem to be based from ignorance and inexperience, and for commerce to capitalize on those traits for profit is quite despicable.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh Colin, this is so important for people to know! It breaks my heart when I hear about dogs being “given up” due to some reason. This is especially common in my country of origin, as people often think of them as “toys” and treat them accordingly. Thank you for posting this!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. All so true! Excellent post, I have definitely seen a few dogs dropped at the shelter for reasons that make me shake my head. But then at least the shelter has the opportunity to find them the perfect home. Like for Ray and you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Kim… and Comments from people who work in shelters are always so welcome! There are, of course, circumstances that understandably dictate that a dog needs a new home. Sadly there are so many where it is simply because the “novelty” has worn off. We will never know whether Ray escaped from his original home, or whether he was taken somewhere and abandoned. We do know that he was not cared for by his original owners so, in his case, things had to improve. Dogs that have had a happy home for a number of years, and then dropped of at a shelter!!!!!! 😦

      Liked by 2 people

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