Posted at 09:22AM - Comments: (17)
I was casually reading an online article this morning from BayAreaParent DOG Gone It , thinking “Yeah, yeah, yeah, another sad failed dog adoption story.” You know, newlywed couple buys Labrador Retriever puppy, gets pregnant, doesn’t train the dog, dog is out of control, gets banished to the back yard when the baby comes, dog is miserable, owner gets pregnant again, blah, blah, blah…”
Then I got to the part where the owner said, “Norm threw the ball and Josie wandered toward it. I guess she got in the way, because all of a sudden Chance bolted towards Josie and very deliberately knocked her down the embankment.”
They ultimately contacted rescue and rehomed the dog, after concluding that they had adopted the wrong dog to start with, at the wrong time (“the Humane Society says to wait until children are 5 years old to adopt a dog”) and that Chance had purposely tried to harm their daughter.
I was so disturbed by this outrageous statement that I had linked to the article on my Facebook page. An interesting discussion ensued.
I started it off by saying, “First of all - they didn't pick the wrong dog. They forgot to train the dog they picked. Second - they didn't pick the wrong time - she wasn't pregnant when they got Chance - they failed to make good use of the first year to train their dog. Third - I doubt the dog "very deliberately" knocked the baby off the cliff. Dad threw ball. Dog chased ball. Baby was between dog and ball. Crash. Bad throw, Dad!”
Yep, I was critical of the owners for their poor choices, and the first few FB responses took a similar view.
“Sad... it happens all the time.”
“People need to do their homework before getting a dog.”
“That's exactly what I was thinking as I read the article.”
But then an interesting thing happened: some of my trainer friends started defending the writer of the article. At least, they said, the owners recognized they weren’t meeting the dog’s needs, and did the responsible thing by rehoming her.
“Chance's owners finally did act responsibly and intelligently when they realized they were not up to having a dog.”
“I liked this article and how she took responsibility for not doing right by the dog.”
“The article was redeemed for me by her understanding of Chance's misery and of the fact that her family had failed to meet the dog's behavioral needs. (When was the last time you read the phrase "behavioral needs" in an article by a layperson??) ”
“I'm betting she gets a lot of very hostile response to this piece, and I admire her for accepting responsibility for the human screw-up.”
So there you go. We who are so good at forgiving our dogs for making mistakes sometimes have to be reminded to forgive other humans for doing the same. We are all, after all, only human. I’ll try to be better about remembering that next time.