Whole Dog Journal's Blog February 21, 2012

Canine Causes

Posted at 10:55AM - Comments: (10)

I’ve been thinking about how, when it comes to our spare time, we all find different things to become involved with – different causes grab us for different reasons. Some people get into local, state, or national politics, due to strong feelings about abortion, or gay marriage, or the treatment of our soldiers. Some people volunteer with charitable groups after being affected by cancer, heart disease, diabetes, drug addiction.  Even us dog people find widely disparate causes to occupy our spare time and dollars. I have one good friend who volunteers annually for animal rescue organizations in Asia; another who devoted years to a breed rescue; and still another whose mission in life is to shut down or improve conditions in puppy mills.

I’ve found myself being strongly affected by the plight of unwanted animals in my community, and wracking my brain to find ways to improve the dog adoption rate at my local shelter; that’s my cause. Of course, there are also plenty of “cat people” volunteering at the shelter. But even among the people who volunteer at my shelter and who share an interest in dogs in particular -- we all get “grabbed” by different individual animals and their stories. One person is trying to improve the reputation of pit bulls in society and concentrates on training the pits and pit-mixes.  Another person is drawn to the many Chihuahuas and Chihuahua-mixes, and has a knack for finding the unique traits that distinguish one tiny dog from the next.

This past week, I’ve been working closely with a friend, who, like me, has a soft spot in her heart for those “soft,” shy, or under-socialized Border Collie, Australian Shepherd, and cattle dog-mixes.  The county animal control officers recently brought in a little family of three cattle dogs: a friendly and pettable (and pregnant) mom, a 4-month-old blue pup who wagged his tail at people but was otherwise untouchable, and a 9-month-old pup who is a ringer for the mama dog, but terrified of being near humans. And different dogs in this group of three grabbed the hearts of my friend and me. She was strongly attracted to the blue puppy from the start, and after spending hours at the shelter getting him to accept a collar and handling and veterinary attention (vaccination, deworming, flea treatment), she took him home for a week or two to teach him the ways of life in a human habitation. I brought the mom dog to my house for the long weekend, so she could recover from her spay surgery in comfort. But I’m totally itching to literally get my hands on the worst-case pup, who, without a major behavioral intervention, would surely be slated for euthanasia. Why? Why bother with that hard luck case and not this other one? I don’t know – but it’s fascinating to me.

What’s your canine cause? How do you explain it?

Comments (8)

Our cause is dogs with epilespy. We'd adopted 3 so far. Our most recent Reagan was adopted as a puppy and when she started having seizures at about 2 yrs old her former owners returned her to the shelter saying they didn't want her anymore. She is now 7 yrs old. She's on 3 different medications and her cluster seizures are rough but we get through them together.The rest of the time she's a sweet lively dog whose loving life. She even does agility, though not in competition.

Posted by: Patricia L | February 26, 2012 9:09 AM    Report this comment

I have always loved pugs and have had them most of my my life. Mostly they have have been rescues needing nasal and palate surgery. I came to this site after having many problems with Chicklet vomiting after eating. She is eight years old and has had nasal and palate surgery and is on Prescription ID. Her Vet who was amazing left his practice and it is hard to find someone who is familiar with Pug troubles. Right now I am feeding her very soft white rice for a day or so. I will have to find a Vet but I have had bad experiences with some of them, Forgive me for whining.

Posted by: June09 | February 22, 2012 8:25 PM    Report this comment

I'm drawn to the sweet, soft, easy dogs in Southern shelters who get put down due to simple overcrowding and lack of demand for puppies past that first flush of cuteness. The fluffy 8- to 12-week-olds don't have much trouble getting out, but the 8- to 12-MONTH-olds do, just because they're not so cute anymore and no one bothered to teach them anything.

So I foster them and train them and try to place them well. It doesn't take much. They're a joy to work with (mostly...), they learn quickly, and it's EASY. The reward-to-effort ratio is phenomenal. I'm only human; that matters. I'm not up for months of thankless work.

My resident dog's a behavioral rehab case. I love him to bits and he's my personal perfect dog, but having learned the hard way just how much work goes into a dog like that, I wouldn't try to place one with an adopter who just wants a sweet family dog. Not when there are hundreds upon thousands of perfect family dogs with no such challenges dying in shelters every day.

My mission's to save the easy ones. I'm not looking for challenges. I'm just trying to get good dogs safe, then equip them with the skills and training they need to live happily in loving homes.

And to the extent that looks matter, I guess I go for the plain-looking ones with soulful eyes -- the brown and yellow and black mutts, just your garden-variety shepherd and retriever mixes, the ones who get overlooked because their appearances are so common.

Posted by: Jennifer A | February 21, 2012 2:37 PM    Report this comment

I'm training my 14 mo old Mini Schnauzer to be a Therapy Dog. I know this isn't totally a canine cause but I'm doing it for both of us. She loves human interaction and I love seeing her interact with everyone. She is such a great little friendly pooch who just loves to have humans gush over her. So, though this isn't totally a canine cause- it will be her cause!!! She is just one class away!!!

Posted by: KARLA M | February 21, 2012 12:53 PM    Report this comment

My cause is the old dogs whose owners die leaving them alone or with someone who does not want them and the old dogs who are tossed out because they are no longer cute puppies or healthy young dogs.

Posted by: Susan T | February 21, 2012 12:38 PM    Report this comment

I recently moved to southern Delaware, land of chickens, farms and beaches. I came from metropolitan. Wash into,DC where there were dog parks and dog parades. It literally pains me to drive out of my neighborhood and pass dogs on chains or in kennels,all the time. I have been a volunteer for nonprofits that serve people but never animals, although as a child I was in 4 H for sheep. Now that I have relocated and retired I would like to work with dogs, or on behalf of dogs and other animals. What stops me is leaving my own 2 dogs to volunteer. I always feel they could go for another walk etc. So I'm very interested but don' t know if it's ok to leave my own to work with shelter animals. Has anyone else ever confronted this. Secondly, I would very much like to see an end to chaining and kenneling dogs outside, but I don't want to impose my own values on these farmers and hunters. For all I know, they could be just as devoted as I am to their dog. But I literally just look straight ahead so I won't be disturbed seeing a puppy in a kennel jumping straight up trying to jump out of the heat. .
( This sounds like an ad for subscriptions, but I promise you it is not,.) Lastly, I give any of my friends with a dog a subscription to Whole Dog Journal at the Holidays, cause I can rest that we are all reading from the same page and I don't have to worry about their dogs.'

Posted by: Sheila N | February 21, 2012 12:26 PM    Report this comment

My canine cause is intervening for dogs whose owners use chain and prong collars. Martingale collars do the same job, humanely. People who tell me they have to use prong collars or their dog would drag them down the street,are just too LAZY to TRAIN their dog properly. To those who say,"It doesn't really hurt them." I say, Put that collar around your neck and let me give a little tug! I try to show up at any and all dog events and just peruse the crowd for prong collars. So far, I've never been thrown out and I see some of the people actually buying martingales.

Posted by: 2dognight | February 21, 2012 12:13 PM    Report this comment

My Canine Cause is all the dogs who are fed junk food who scratch, chew feet, have anal gland problems, ear infections, runny eyes, epilepsy and many other health issue and the reason i have this cause is because something can be done about it - George Burns - www.burnspethealth.com and www.landofholisticpets.co.uk

Posted by: George B | February 21, 2012 11:36 AM    Report this comment

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