How Could you? Reality of we want a pet.

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Star*, Aug 26, 2009.

  1. Star*

    Star* call 911

    A man in Grand Rapids, Michigan incredibly took out a $7000 full page ad in the paper to present the following essay to the people of his community.

    HOW COULD YOU? - By Jim Willis, 2001

    When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?" -- but then you'd relent and roll me over for a belly rub.

    My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs" you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

    Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love. She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" - - still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.

    Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a "prisoner of love." As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch -- because your touch was now so infrequent -- and I would've defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

    There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog ," and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

    Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family.

    I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with "papers." You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked, "How could you?"

    They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind -- that this was all a bad dream... or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.

    When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days.

    As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured, "How could you?"

    Perhaps because she understood my dog speak, she said, "I'm so sorry." She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself -- a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

    A Note from the Author: If "How Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly "owned" pets who die each year in American & Canadian animal shelters. Please use this to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay & neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.

    Please pass this on to everyone, not to hurt them or make them sad, but it could save maybe, even one, unwanted pet. Remember...They love UNCONDITIONALLY.

    This IS the reality of dogs given up to shelters! Think before you adopt, a dog can be a 16 year commitment. Spay and Neuter your pets to ensure no dogs need to go a shelter and please, think twice before you send your pet to his death because you don't feel like dealing with it any more
  2. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Star, I've seen this before during my years of human society volunteering, but it is a message that bears repeating.

    I've been through many a "lifespan" over the years with my guys and gals, and am currently going through it with a German Shepherd who has severe spinal arthritis and is starting to slow down.

    Last year he put his back "out" totally, was put on steroids, and due to side-effects and being in horrible pain (with medications), broke housetraining.

    This year I spent 5 THOUSAND dollars to replace my carpeting with flooring so if the old guy can't make it outside, I can mop up after him.

    No, he's no longer the brilliant, active tracking and competitive obedience dog he was for a few years.

    We can't clamber over rough ground or hurdle obstacles any more. He's no longer "good for much" beyond barking and looking fierce if someone comes to the door or around the windows.

    We go for walks on level ground daily, and in the winter I shovel out a path to the plowed out road so he can walk (he can't pick up his right hind foot very high)

    Yeah. He needs a boost to get into the car and our life together has really changed. But, I'm getting older and I have a bad back, too.

    He's still my dog, and when the day comes that he can no longer get around and the pain medications don't help, well...We'll make that last, merciful trip.

    Meanwhile, we are still a team.

    toK (and Gryphon. CGC, CD, CDX, UD, UDX, UDT)
  3. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Another thing to add that most people don't think about: Dogs can get disorders that require chronic medications and/or prescription diets.

    Either or both can be very expensive. Gryphon has a digestive disorder that requires that he eat a RX diet. It costs about 80 dollars a month.

    His medications are inexpensive, but the diet is a bear. But, what can I do? I can either let the dog suffer with cramps and intestinal bleeding, or I can buy his special food which lets him be comfortable, in good coat, and all of that.

    He's not a puppy mill dog or from a back yard breeder. He is a EU import. These are just problems that run with the breed.

    I am very familiar with German Shepherds and potential problems (ironically, Gryphon does NOT have hip dysplaysia.) and I still researched before getting him.\

    I've had GSDs my whole life. Gryphon will be the last one. Not because I don't want to pay the bills, but because with my back I can't pick him up.

    When the time comes and I am ready, I will get a smaller dog that I can more easily take care of in terms of the lifting.

    There are still no guarantees that another dog, mixed breed/rescue or not, won't also have health problems. You have to allow for those with ANY animal you take responsibilty for.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Kinda reminds me of Shel Silverstiens book The Giving Tree.
  5. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thanks for sharing! I remember spending over $3K for multiple surgeries to try to save difficult child's cat Whiskers when he went into sudden heart failure at only 3 years old. Over 2 weeks I spent $ I didn't have, couldn't afford. I barely slept as I would bring him home from the vet after a surgery and couldn't bear to not watch over him, then back to vet, another surgery, more sleepless nights. Poor boy tried so hard but had to be put down after 2 weeks and so many operations. I regret NONE of the time or money. He was worth trying to save.

    I too believe pets are a commitment that if we take them on, we should accept all that goes with them.

    I have had to in past rehouse a beloved pet for practical (yet sad) reasons, such as moving and the owner not allowing pets. It hurt each time but I took time to find a loving good home with true animal lovers. I also always told them that if something changed, please call me and I'd take the animal back home (to heck with landlords!) until I could figure something out. Since then (years and years ago) I refuse to live somewhere that landlords will forbid animals. I can't say goodbye a day before my pet passes away.

    They should be for life. Thanks again for posting this!
  6. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    When I moved out of my parents' house, my Samoyed couldn't come with me.

    I paid my parents monthly, not much, but some, to help with her care. I visited her as much as I could. She was pretty old already, so it was less than a year before she passed away. Quietly and naturally. Just didn't wake one day.

    My cat Weasel is now 15. It terrifies me to think she might not be around in a few years. But I still have her. When I moved, I refused to even look at places that wouldn't take her. I made a commitment, a vow - and I will stick to it.

    I love my animals. I love my kids. If I ever have to make a decision between my furbabies and other things, I'll find homes for them. Preferably mine, though.

    This was a sad story... But so often it happens. I see lots of military people moving who can't keep their animals because they're going overseas. I hate seeing it, but I can't do anything. (This is how I ended up with a third cat... Sigh.)
  7. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I think I'll go pay some extra special attention to my 10 year old yorkie, now. Sniff!
  8. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    Sometimes I love my animals more than my

    This was really, really good.
  9. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Thanks, Starbie. I'm reading this right before a job interview. I need more makeup now.

    I want a dog so bad, but will not get one until I'm in a stable living arrangement. It's been 6 months since Rockstar went down and I still think about it every day. Old guy that probably should have been put down a long time ago, but he was surrounded by loving people til the end. I just live vicariously through neighbor's dogs. :)