Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An Inconvenient Dog

He was nine years old, wouldn't look directly at anyone, and what I found out later, was that he had hip dysplasia and arthritis in his back. His shelter name was Coal, but to me he was Boo Boo.

Dogs like Boo Boo are abandonned by their owners every day by their owners every day, because it's not convenient to keep them around. The lucky ones have owners who work to find them a new home. Those not so lucky are brought to the shelter where they are put in competition with younger dogs. Many less adoptable dogs are euthanized when they aren't selected. Less lucky was Boo Boo who was left to wander the streets until he was picked up. No one came to look for him, which is a shame, because he was slow enough that he probably didn't travel far from his home.

Regardless of their age or condition, recognize that it's a life-long commitment before you bring a dog home. The lifetime is nothing less than the time that dog is alive. There comes a time when it's in your pet's best interest to have them put to sleep when they're uncomfortable and can no longer be helped; however if your reasons fall into one of the following categories, I'd ask on behalf of your loyal pets that you take a long hard look at whether you really intend to risk your dog being put down at the hands of strangers:

  • You've lost interest
  • Not having as much time as you want with your dog and they're acting out
  • Feeling your once playful dog can't keep up with you anymore
  • Your dog's bladder isn't as strong as it once was
  • Your dog is losing it's hearing/eyesight 
  • The dog's medicals bills are competing with other all of the other bills that just keep on coming

In talking with pet rescuers around the country, the first two are much too prevalent. Getting bored with your dog is a poor excuse at best. I'd recommend looking closer at the situation and figuring out how you can make some small changes in your schedule to reconnect with your loyal pet. If you can't, I'd recommend talking with family and friends who already know the dog and might be willing to take them in as a member of their extended family.

The next three (can't keep up, increased potty accidents, and dealing with failing senses) require an investment in time to mitigate the affects. Additional training isn't going to cure these issues in every case, but instead of getting frustrated and showing your pooch the door, take this opportunity to reconnect and help that old dog by being more vigilant when they want to go out, retraining with hand signals or sounds, not moving furniture around as much, and in general enjoy the quiet time enjoying them as they sit beside you on the floor.

The final reason is something that you need to work out based upon your personal finances. The best way to deal with bills is to plan as much in advance as possible. Decide what is best to maintain your pet's quality of life, budget for the medicine and operations that might come and do your best. It's the right thing to do and in the end, it's the only goal we should ever truly strive to attain.