I did not personally write this, non the less the person who did took the words right out of my mouth. I often stand on my soapbox daily and shout these very words! well written and I am happy to share.
I HAVE A BONE TO PICK: THE RUSH TO ADOPT ….. THE SAD DOG STORY
( Warning: Long rant ahead)
Across Canada and the USA, shelters are currently preparing to take in groups of dogs, rescued from a meat farm in Korea. People are going insane trying to find out how to adopt one of these dogs RIGHT NOW.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The rescue mission is admirable, not only rescuing the dogs, but also helping the farmer convert his farm to grow fruits and vegetables.
So, what’s my problem?
Yesterday, these people were not surfing the internet or visiting their local shelters trying to choose from the thousands of homeless pets in their area. But today, moved by the plight of these ” special ” dogs, they suddenly have the space, not to mention the time and the money, to devote to a new dog.
I’ve seen it happen over and over again. A few years ago, a dog in my area made the news when her companion was hit by a car and killed, terrified she evaded animal control officers for days until they finally baited her with some tranquilized food. People were falling all over themselves to adopt her.
But here is the thing, unlike Disney movies, the sad story doesn’t end when the dog gets adopted, that’s where the dogs story BEGINS. Sad story dogs have experienced serious neglect and, in some cases abuse. While a loving home can make a tremendous difference, love does not conquer all. Sad story dogs frequently have long term challenges, both physical and behavioral. The dogs coming from South Korea aren’t Golden retriever mixes that were roaming the city looking for a new home, when suddenly they were trapped by a mean person. These dogs were bred solely as livestock, not as a house pet.
So, what’s the big deal? You just teach them!
Great! These dogs are absolutely going to need an adopter who is not only dedicated, but knowledgeable and skilled enough to help transition to life in the average home. No, I’m not talking about attending a 6 week class at your local pet store, In fact, you can probably forget about group class at first, but that will be a nice goal to work towards after you have several private lessons with a trainer to learn how to help your new dog adapt to life with you. I would anticipate that it will involve a fairly significant desensitization/counter conditioning program to, well pretty much everything. Cars,bikes, joggers, kids, skateboards, other dogs, etc. These dogs experience nothing outside of the farm or puppy mills where they were raised.
We know that in breeds that were selected for their affinity for human contact, missing out on early socialization can mean the difference between having a happy dog who loves everyone to the limited social life that comes with owning a dog that exhibits fearful or aggressive behaviors. Those who have lived with an extremely fearful dog or a dog who requires a significant amount of work just to tolerate grooming, handling, restraint, and more, can tell you how much work that is….in their dog that comes from a long line of dogs who were bred to share their lives with humans.
Now, here’s the other thing to consider before bringing home that Sad Story Dog, depending on that individual dog it is very likely that no amount of training or behavior modification is going to turn that dog into an easygoing family pet who enjoys sitting under a café table while you eat Sunday brunch. It’s safe to say that a fair number of these dogs won’t be able to accompany their owners on vacation or even handle neighborhood walks without significant behavioral intervention. Some of them will be so frightened by new sights, sounds, and people that the kindest thing to do will be to leave them at home. So now you need to find a pet sitter who is knowledgeable enough to care for the dog… and affordable enough for you to be able to go on vacation.
Am I being an alarmist? No, I’m being realistic.
These are un-socialized dogs that come from generations of dogs with no prior selection for sharing their lives with humans. I’ve worked with dogs like this. street dogs that service men and woman bring home from Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries around the world, where the majority of the domestic dog population lives near humans, but not with humans. They are wonderful dogs, intelligent, sensitive…. and not at all responsive to the ” do it, or else ” style of training so many dog owners are accustomed to. They do, however respond very well to clicker training 🙂 Will some of these dogs end up being wonderful family pets? Of course! Dogs are nothing if not amazingly resilient, but dog behavior is not a total mystery. If a line of dogs is not selected for sociability to human, if they are not carefully socialized at an early age, and if they are not provided with thoughtful and skilled training, the chances that the dog will develop behavioral problems increases significantly.
Do Sad Story Dogs deserve a chance? YES, ABSOLUTELY! without question, that’s exactly what I’m reaching for. I’m reaching to the person who adopts a Sad Story Dog with the same amount of research ( or less ) as their next smartphone, the person who just feels an overwhelming need to ” save ” a dog that has already been saved. The person who is not likely to be prepared for the challenges that lay ahead. Their lack of preparation is going to do more harm than can be compensated for by their good intentions!
So, before you run to the shelter to “rescue” that Sad Story Dog, ask yourself if you are prepared for months and/or possibly years of work to minimize the stress of living in your home and keep the dog, and everyone around him/her safe! If your answer is “yes! I have the time, patience, and resources to do all i can to give one of these dogs a great life,” then I am behind you 100%, You are welcome to message me and I will do all I can to point you in the direction of resources that will aid you in your journey. If that all sounds like more than you bargained for, consider giving that sudden opening in your home to one of the countless shelter dogs in your area and leave the significant task of caring for the Sad Story Dogs to people who are ready too. You’re still saving a dog with a sad story, but a story that is so common it doesn’t make headlines anymore.