Thursday, November 26, 2009

Forever homes: A myth or just plain cruel

This quote is in response to an earlier entry. I'm quoting first and then will follow with my response. I'm doing it this way because I honestly believe it is a very important point and a way of thinking that needs further consideration.

wow, you are on the roll!
But I have to admit you confused me with this one. Maybe the idea of fostering an animal from the shelter for the holiday is a lame one, but I think you a bit overstretching the consequences.

I doubt lots of people would run into the shelter on Black Friday to get a dog. Life is
not Hollywood. But even if someone does, I doubt the experience will turn him or
her into the animal hater.

The only people I see doing something like this are those who would buy a puppy for Christmas and then take it to the shelter when he becomes big and unmanageable. But those are the people who do not put much thought into anything and I doubt any thought at all will cross their mind after the shelter door closes behind them.
now, do you really don't think that adopting a dog from the shelter is rescue? Maybe from "no kill" shelter it's not, but I think if you save the dogs life it is a rescue.
Here is a story of the dog that our friends had adopted:
It's true that our society overly humanizes animals, but I don't think it's
right to put down the dog just because no one wants it. And I don't think there
is anything wrong with wanting to give that dog home for the rest of it's life.

I have come to believe the constantly voiced/written animal radicals dream of "forever" homes falls in either the myth or cruelty category. We live at a point in this country's history where the majority of adults either don't bother to ever form long term relationships with other humans or think a long term relationship is 10 years or less. When two humans come to a point in their lives where their interests have completely diverged they don't start stressing about "forever marriage" anymore. They just pick up the phone and make a appointment with a good divorce attorney and get on with the business of moving on with life.

So what I want to know is why, please someone tell me why, must dogs and cats be forced to remain in a "forever home" that is not a good fit? How much kinder and more realistic is to to admit that the puppy you had such glowing plans for has grown up to just flat out hate those plans? I think about all the times over the years that an owner has come to me for help, because of the problems they were having with their dog not fitting into the roll planned for them. I could just as easily turn that around and say they were the driver and the payer of fees, but it was the dog who was complaining about the problems he was having with the humans.

Either way, the real solution, the thing that worked the very best for all parties was for the humans and dog to get that divorce. This then freed to dog to find a much better set of humans and it freed the humans up to either continue their life dogless or enter into a relationship with a dog that was more suitable.

Don't go getting all fuzzy brained and weepy on me. Consider just these two examples.

First was a young Border Collie. She had the misfortune of landing in a "marriage" with a family that consisted of 7 children under the age of 10. The parents were nice a couple. They were also overwhelmed by the children. The children raced around yelling, crying, laughing, talking, eating and not paying much, if any attention to either parent.

T0 this mess was added a Border Collie. By the time I saw them, she was almost totally insane. Frankly I didn't blame her one bit. I wanted to bark and bite most of those kids myself. To keep my sanity I did end up insisting all 7 of them do a "long sit/stay". Did I mention the reason they came to me was because of the dog's constant barking and the the fact she had now started biting the children?

This Border Collie got lucky. She was the right age and I just happened to know of a farmer who had lost his hard working farm collie to old age. He had ask me to keep my eyes open for a new dog for him. I talked the family out of their dog and she went off to live with the farmer and after a 3 month decompression period turned into what he many years later told me was the very best dog he had ever owned.

Second dog. A very large, male Akita. This fellow was overbearing, suspicious of all new things, hated having to live inside and had zero respect for either of his very well educated, wealthy, over achiever owners. I managed to get him out of that home. A home, I might add, that the radicals labeled as the almost perfect home and one he hated. He went to live, work and pretty much worship the owner of a scrap metal lot. This lot and the building were cold in the winter, hot in the summer, dirty all the time. Here he was free to be as nasty as he pleased to the unwanted and very questionable humans that sometimes came around after dark. He lived a long and very happy life.

I'm going to add a third dog to this list. Some of you know her through this blog and some of you know her in person. I am speaking of Sanity's little Yorkie. I really have no right to say if she was happy in her first home. I have no doubt that she is happy now. The first home said she was dangerously dog aggressive. The first home said she wasn't safe around children. The first home said she was fearful of strangers. Turns out not a one of those things were true. Lucky her, the first "marriage" ended in divorce and she was handed over the fence to me. This marriage sure does look like a keeper.

Bottom line here is the "forever home" claptrap is dooming many dogs to a life of misery and what under other conditions would be a good home is in truth a very bad home.

Many, many times a person gets a puppy or a dog for the right reasons at that time, but time and changes make the choice not so perfect. Why, oh why does a certain part of our population want to insist that the poor dog must be forced to live in a constant state of misery just to meet the requirements of a "forever home".

All this wandering about really does have something to do with the beginning and taking dogs home just because it is Thanksgiving or Christmas. The dogs don't worry about human designated holidays so they will be much happier to got to what might turn out to be a new marriage when the humans have more time to give, have more quiet in the house and fewer guests, no parties and definitely no overly rich foods to make things extra difficult. The time between November 15 to January 2 have got to be the worst time of the year for adding a new animal to the household.


  1. I just happened to find your blog and must say.... A breath of fresh air!
    I love my dogs, but they are my dogs, not my kids, not my family, but rather they get to live the life they deserve, a dogs life!

    They have learned they have to do as I ask them to do, and in return, I'll make sure they eat well, have a warm place to sleep, be as healthy as I can make them, and they get to be dogs!

    The Border Terriers get to run in the fields, chase critters and kill their share of ground hogs. I never believed what I was told about this breed... you can never let them loose, they will simply run off. Nonsense, train them to come when called, let them run the fields with you, teach them they are part of the team, and they do indeed come when called.

    My Wirehaired Pointers hunt birds, get to run and hunt as they are bred to do. They are great companions, but they get to be what they rightfully are, dogs, and dogs with a job.

    Well, that's all. Thanks for some good sound advice for dog owners out there.
    Bernee Brawn
    Justa GWP's and BT's

  2. Karen the Good Dog Owner10:23 AM

    Thank you for this perspective of the "forever home". I agree that some dogs are just not thriving, or even worse, in harm's way, in homes that are not right for them. The same goes for the owners, who suffer their decision to take the dog on.

    I think it is important that owners are not always blamed for making this mistake. Even when an owner researches to the best of their ability, and allows a responsible breeder to help make the individual puppy selection, life happens. Circumstances change, and sometimes the fit is just not right from the beginning. Sometimes it is hard to admit that you can't have what you really want (that is another problem of our society). I personally love a number of breeds that I know I am not likely to ever own. As much as I'd like to have one around, I have to look deeper into myself and admit that it just wouldn't work out. Some people learn that lesson the hard way. Does that make them a terrible person? No. It just means they made a mistake.

    So they made a mistake. Perhaps they do everything in their power to compromise, but it still isn't working out. Liberate both dog and owner and find a new home.

    Oh, the horror! "They must be evil to place that dog at someone else's feet!" That's what we've all been taught to say. What we should do instead is help THEM take the right steps to find the dog an appropriate home. I capitalized "THEM" because I think it is a good idea for them to take the first steps, rather than foist the dog on someone else to do the work.

    So they might have to put some work in and make some new connections and do some interviews and perhaps some home visits and phone calls to ensure the dog's safety. They might even cry now and then, because there is still an attachment there. This is proof, by the way, that they are not evil.

    Margot has proven that re-homing can work out really well. I've taken part in owning a dog briefly for this purpose myself, and it is working out fantastically for us. I knew from the beginning that the dog couldn't stay in my home, but now he is the star in his new environment. He is thriving and will help make his community safer as a working dog.

    I think people need to be more open to Margot's idea of "dog divorce". Stop the blame game. Take care of #1 people and #2 the dog, and if this requires a little shuffling, so be it.

    I think I'll post something like this on my blog. Thanks for the idea, Margot!