Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dog Rescue Story

   Today Good Morning America (GMA) aired a story about choosing the right rescued dog for your family. Overall, I liked the piece because it emphasized going beyond looks and evaluating personality and fit for your household. They said that of the 1 million dogs rescued annually, most integrate well and only 5% are returned to animal shelters.
   What I feel was an oversight and frankly, irresponsible journalism, is that there was no mention of the fact that buying a puppy is NO guarantee that the dog will be problem-free. After all, who are all these dogs that end up in rescue? Many were purchased from pet stores, breeders, or individuals breeding their dogs. Getting a puppy or any dog who isn't from a shelter doesn't mean that they are a safer animal. It's possible that these could also have undesirable issues like aggression too. And every dog is at the mercy of their owner, and their owner's drive to understand their individual needs and train them appropriately.
   As someone who has been involved in dog rescue since I was twelve years old, it infuriates me when media supports the public misconception that animals are in shelters because there is something wrong with them. Of course this is true in some cases—the animal could have issues that their former owners were unprepared or unwilling to deal with, so giving them up was their solution. But I believe that the vast majority of animals in shelters are there because their owners failed, not the animal itself. Most of these issues are fully workable when the right person takes charge.
   Many animals are in shelters for reasons other than behavioral issues—people moving, marrying/divorcing, having kids, allergies, financial issues... and none of these are a reflection on the pet itself. Humans are imperfect, and many people won't commit to caring for an animal for the duration of their up to 20 year life span. That's why 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in shelters annually.
   I'd like to see GMA do a follow-up story that is more thoughtful about looking at the whole issue of pet ownership, and specifically, encouraging rescue vs. purchasing pets. 
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   On a lighter note, my friend Bill S. recently adopted a puppy, and documented some of the finer points of puppy ownership (see why I adopted older dogs?). Please pray for his survival. Some of this is written from the puppy's perspective, some from the humans', but set that aside and just enjoy.

   Here are some observations from two days of being accompanied by an eight-week-old puppy:
— Fear of death is non-existent. Plummeting off the back of the couch to my certain death pales in comparison to learning why the big dog always hides from me up there.
— I don't like to be alone. I make a special alarm noise that can and has disturbed people in neighboring states when left alone for even short periods.
— Puppy breath is sweet and adorable. Puppy tummies are the best. Puppy mouths, however, are made at Wes Craven's horror movie prop factory in Los Angeles and are filled with hydraulically operated rows of 18-gauge hypodermic needles that were modified from the inner jaw of the Alien movie prop.
— Puppies live in cycles of 45-mins of frenetic, laugh-riotous, near-death, nuclear fission cycles of energy and constant activity followed immediately by periods of an absolute comatose, brain dead two-to-three-hour nap. This is an evolutionary adaptation to prevent immediate puppy-cide by our canine parents or companion humans.
— There is no more destructive force on the planet than a puppy's mouth unsupervised for 30-60 seconds. "Hey, what's that scrunching noise? Oh, it's a hole in the: (pick any two at random) carpet, couch, iPad, cell phone, 440 volt main electrical feed line to the house, car tire, car, neighborhood gas main, $300 shoes, etc.
— "Seek, Chase, and Bloody" the bare feet walking through the home is an endlessly fun game.
— The vacuum cleaner is an evil spirit which must be attacked, banished, and destroyed.
— I will sleep in my crate alone all night (on the floor next to your bed), provided when I wake up frightened and make the alarm noise indicated above, you stick two fingers through my crate to chew and snuggle with. Said fingers may be needed for up to an hour. Any early removal results in the alarm noise. This means that when one spouse goes to the restroom at 3 AM, and the other rolls across the bed to provide the fingers for auditory protection, they MUST have their head sat on by the other spouse when they return from the bathroom.

— Puppies somewhat imperfectly fill the gaping hole left by the recently departed family pet. We think the older dog would have wanted it that way... God knows, humans can't be trusted to be home alone!
More observations as they become available.