Monday, December 7, 2015


Because Mrs. Cynical and I volunteer for a regional dog rescue organization, I keep an eye on Craigslist for dogs that might be a good fit. And frankly, I'm sickened by what I see.

The list of dogs that people no long want is never-ending. The excuses are also never-ending. The dog is too big, is too energetic, sheds too much, barks too much, isn't house-trained, has health issues. Or the owner isn't allowed to have dogs in his apartment (?), is moving and can't take the dog, doesn't have room for the dog, doesn't have time for the dog, can't afford the dog, is allergic to the dog, is having a baby and no long wants the dog.

It makes me want to puke.

Mrs. Cynical and I wanted a dog for years. But because of our careers, which kept us moving from place to place every few years, we waited. When we finally settled down where we thought would be our permanent home, we bought a pup. He has never been away from us, other than during our work hours, in his 13+ years. About a year later, Mrs. Cynical found a stray wandering in a rain storm. We located the owner, and she didn't want the dog anymore and gave her to us. We still have her. Later still, after we began regularly fostering dogs as part of what we do for the rescue, we twice adopted fosters (only 1 survives).

I cannot imagine any circumstance under which I'd give up any of them. I'd live in my car and eat from dumpsters first. Why? Never mind how much we love them. More to the point, we made a commitment to each of these animals that we would care for them to the best of our abilities, and for the rest of their (or our) lives.

If you don't think of your dog as a family member, you don't deserve to own one. If you don't think that dog loves you, depends on you, looks to you for guidance and affection, and considers you part of his pack, you don't deserve to own one. If you don't take that dog into your home with the intention of giving him the very best possible life for however long that life is, you don't deserve to own one.

I once coined the phrase "pets as furniture". It's my take on the type of person that likes the idea of how a dog looks in their home, but has no intention of caring for it properly. It was great as a puppy, but now that it's grown, not so much. It's fed the cheapest food on the market, and never visits the vet. It's kept in the basement or chained up in the backyard. These vermin have my utter and everlasting disdain.

I look at my dogs and realize they've given their lives to us. They live only in the moment, wanting to please us, have fun, and  be content. How can I do anything else but make that life the best I can?

I look at my dogs and think: this is one way I know there is a God.


Heidi said...

Couldn't agree more.

It hurts me every time I pass a house with a dog tied outside, knowing that's their life.

What lessens that hurt is coming home and giving each of mine the best life I can, having made a lifetime commitment to each of them.

They are NOT disposable.

Andrea Baumann said...

As a rescuer and animal advocate I hear you loud and clear. It's a tragedy that people view living animals as disposable, and I shudder to think what kind of message that sends their children. The last dog I drove out into the boonies to pick up, because the "free to home" ad on Craigslist stated "MUST GO NOW" and discussion with the "owner" indicated the dog would be dumped somewhere very shortly.....I had to wait a few minutes while they sent the kid across the street to the grandparents house. "What will your tell your daughter?" I asked while putting a flea-ridden, thin, cowering dog into the back of my van. "We'll just tell her it ran away" sad that people are OK with the idea of having something for such a short and meaningless time. :'(

Gracie's Mom said...

Amen to that my friend!!
I feel the same way about my cats, I would love to also have a dog but I like them large and it wouldn't be fair to have one in my condo.
When one gets a pet it should be a commitment to care for them for the rest of their lives to the best of our ability.


Anonymous said...

Agreed, but with us, it's cats. We have made provisions for them in our wills for when the time comes. They are our family, and while we don't go overboard in spoiling them (we don't dress them up in costumes), we try to take the best care of them that we can. We've considered fostering some, but I work out of the area a lot, and it would be too much for my wife to do it by herself. We have four rescues and adoptions; that's enough for now.
Our cats are allowed on the furniture; we have blankets that can be removed for when we have guests over. We understand that keeping oil burning lamps and candles is not a good thing to have when one has 3 athletic cats(and one puffball).
When I get to heaven, after being reunited with our Lord, my family, and one or two close friends and an ex-supervisor, I look forward to seeing a large number of cats that my wife and I were blessed to have known over the last 36 years plus.

Orli said...

You are my favorite kind of dog owner. Because I know if anything happened to one of those dogs you would care for them.

Anonymous said...

I often ask myself what we did to deserve dogs. They are very-nearly perfect. My sweet rescue lived at a power plant for a year. When I got her she was almost feral, and now 2 years later she's my constant companion, fierce guardian, and the most loving creature I've ever had the privilege to share my life with. She's also incredibly beautiful, a white GSD, and all she wants in the whole world is to be with me. It pains me to leave her every morning when I go to work, but her joy at my return makes me smile. She also knows when I'm having a bad day (I have fibromyalgia, among other things), and will stay right by my side to comfort me. Yes, indeed, what did we do to deserve dogs?

charles said...

My grandfather's farmhouse was just a bit off the county highway; but, still within sight. He had many dogs (in addition to his hunting beagles) over the years as he often saw a car stop at the end of his driveway, dumped a dog out, and then speed off. Granddad said the dogs would always frantically try to run after the car.

Eventually, my grandfather would go out to the highway and look for the confused, sad, and terrified animal; and bring it back to the farm. He had many more dogs than he really should have had. And even though they all stayed outside, either in the barn or the kennels; he gave them a home and kept them well fed when others just dumped them out like litter.

bobbie said...

AMEN!!! You and your wife are angels ~

Anonymous said...

I lost my much loved Mastiff almost 3 years ago. I literally walked around the house for two weeks crying so hard I couldn't wear any make up. I felt like I was drowning, although there was no water. My husband has offered to get me another one, but I'm not ready yet, so for now I have a Great Dane to help mend my very badly broken heart.
So, yes I know how much dogs can mean to us.

Anonymous said...

Amen Officer, Amen.

Anonymous said...

I volunteer in a shelter, and I have seen some bad things. You and your commenters give me hope.

Anonymous said...

We have also fostered for a small dog rescue and have adopted 3 of our fosters. Our third dog was an owner give up to the foster group. When we went to the house to pick him up the woman brought him in a cat carrier that was way too small for him and handed him off at the door. There were children in the house and no one bothered to say goodbye. He came with leash or collar. The woman appoligized for not socializing him. This boy is the most sensitive dog and he doesn't bark only making a screaching noise occationally. He was a year old whe we got him. I too would NEVER get rid of any of m dogs for any reason. They are family.

Amy said...

I have always had a cradle to grave approach with all of my pets. They ARE family, and deserve the best I can offer them. It breaks my heart to hear these stories.

Old Fool said...

The first person I want to see in heaven is my Shih Tzu, Patches. I visit his grave often and miss him every day. He was full of joy and love like a small child and I never viewed him as a canine.

matt johnson said...

The thing with large breed is that some of them are actually good in smaller spaces, great sadness actually make great apartment did because they are low energy and are very happy with a daily walk to relive themselves.