Ray has, over a considerable amount of time, convinced himself that not all dogs are a cause for concern. He has also appeared to have developed a quite sensitive strategy when greeting other dogs, based on his perception of them. He can be quite aggressively friendly, or very slow and cautious. Caution on his part could be because he is unsure of the other dog or, more recently, because the other dog was unsure of him! Smaller dogs tend to be more of a challenge for Ray, because he has had a few turn very aggressive when very close.
Earlier this week we were out on a routine walk, when we saw a lady coming towards us with a Shih Tzu on a leash. Once we were in conversation range, she immediately commented on Ray and asked if the Shih Tzu could greet him. The problem was that the Shih Tzu had not had too much social experience and so was rather nervous of other dogs, and probably more so with Ray and the size difference.
We really didn’t see any problem with Ray, but were a little concerned as to how the Shih Tzu might react. We allowed them to get closer and watched for any potentially negative reactions, but there were none. Ray went through the correct greeting procedure (rear – underneath – nose), but he was very cautious and seemingly quite relaxed.
Once they both seemed to be fine with each other, we started chatting and the Shih Tzu was apparently adopted from our Humane Society in early 2013. Ray was there from November 2012 until we adopted him in March 2013. Did they remember each other perhaps? Ray seemed to sense that the Shih Tzu was nervous, and went about the social business very gently. What a great meeting!
We learned that the Shih Tzu had been originally picked up by the Humane Society, having been reported being seen just wandering around and with no obvious signs of knowing where home was. The Humane Society did a microchip check and found it, and so called the owner to let her know that her dog was with them.
The lady apparently explained that she was too busy to pick it up that day, but could in 3 – 4 days! The Humane Society explained that they would keep the dog for her, but there would be a charge on a per day basis. The response was an astounding “Oh… keep the dog!”
There are regular circumstances a lot worse than that, but this one puzzled me. I am guessing that while people own dogs for many reasons, surely the most common is the desire for a furry, affectionate, canine buddy! They give so much, but take so little, that they are the perfect friend! If my above assumption is correct, then that Shih Tzu owner acquired that dog for its cute, cuddly and general canine traits.
For a dog to be affectionate, it must have some form of attachment. If it is capable of getting attached to somebody, then it must have feelings. If it has feelings, how can anybody say “Oh… keep the dog” pretty much on a whim? What kind of mentality makes the conscious decision to suddenly abandon their dog, knowing that it is going to be an emotionally traumatic experience for the dog?
My conclusion is pure ignorance. They have thought no further than their own convenience. I would not wish bad experiences on anybody, but a part of me does think that perhaps these people should experience an equivalent level of being abandoned. Of course they probably would not be able to associate the experience with dog ownership but… there is saying here in N. America which is self explanatory – “What goes around comes around”. For that Shih Tzu’s original lady owner, I sort of hope that it does!