Close To Home

Well, as I monitored Facebook this evening, doing what’s called crossposting–using the ‘share’ option to network adoptable pets so that they receive the widest possible exposure throughout the country, and even the world–I was amazed to find an item about a dog dumped minutes from my home, at a plaza where I shop.  She’s a female dog, a Pit Bull or Pit Bull mix, and the post says that it’s clear she must have just weaned a litter of pups.  Probably the puppies were sold, and then the owner had no more use for her.  It’s a very common scenario.  At the end of this post, there’s a link to the Facebook ‘thread’ that relates to this breaking story.

Earlier today, I saw–again on Facebook–a message that had been sent to the woman who heads up the rescue group with which I had a brief career as a dog fosterer.  I’ll write all about that when I get to that point in my chronology.  This woman–I’m going to refer to her as my former boss, for the sake of clarity–seems to do a great job of getting dogs fostered out and then adopted into what are called in the rescue world, ‘forever homes’, or, cheesily, in my opinion, ‘furever homes’. 

She used to breed dogs, my former boss.  She told me that she’d given it up when she realized how many, how very many dogs of her special breed were being euthanized in other states.  In this area, there aren’t enough dogs of this breed to meet the demand, so she didn’t realize she was doing a bad thing until the networking of adoptable dogs on Facebook became popular.

Once she realized, she stopped breeding her dogs and began the process of spaying and neutering them, but not before two dogs who should not have mated, did.  One of the pups from this mating was born with a severe birth defect, and the little thing has required around-the-clock care in order just to stay alive.  And my former boss loves her dearly, and has given her that care, and shared her story on Facebook, and the little dog has her own Facebook page, and followers, and many people who love her.  With another surgery or two, the puppy may be able to live a fairly normal life–time will tell.  My former boss has made sacrifices for the puppy that would be incomprehensible to a large percentage of the population.

As part of my rescue activities over the past summer, I spoke with a woman in the middle southern part of the country about an elderly Beagle who was about to be euthanized.  I wanted to see if there was a way I could help, long-distance, which there often is.  In this case there was, potentially, good news already; she told me that a second woman in the Beagle’s geographical area might agree to take him in, if he met certain criteria.  If I remember rightly, he had vision loss, and she would accept him, depending on the severity of it.  If his vision loss were too serious to allow him to fit into this home, his euthanasia would be almost certain, the woman told me, because in the area of the country where they were located, no one was opting for canine ophthalmology specialist consultations and cataract surgeries.  During the conversation we had, it emerged that she, the woman who had found the potential adopter, was herself opposed to making a great effort, or going to great expense, to save one individual dog, when the same effort or expense, spread over a wider base, could save many dogs.  I did and do see her point, and I told her so, but I also told her that each of us has to make that decision for her/himself.  I told her that I tried to do what I felt called to do, and that right then, I was called to help the Beagle.  I remember I made quite a little speech to her–the right words were forming in my mouth that day, and what came out was a nicely organized concept that I hadn’t been aware was even in my head.  I had a silver tongue right then.  Still, I got off the phone thinking that she must have thought I was a fanatical Poodle pamperer or something.  Instead, I was delighted to hear her voice on my answering machine the next day, saying, ‘I wanted to be sure to let you know that the woman did take the blind Beagle, so he’s all set now.  Thank you so much for caring about him.’  It really made my day, and, probably, my week.  It was a long distance call for her, and I have a feeling that wasn’t the normal pattern of dog rescue where she was, just as canine cataract surgery wasn’t the done thing.

The way I’d like to proceed in the business of rescue is not to make pronouncements and declarations of my policy, but to try to be tolerant and kind in all situations, malleable and flexible as I learn.  And that brings me back to my former boss.

As I said, on Facebook this morning there was a message to her from a friend, who was thanking her for the use of her ultrasound equipment.  She answered something like, ‘Any time, and congratulations!’  The friend then wrote again, ‘Thanks!  I think I’ve already sold one of the females!’

And there it was, something I’d been afraid I’d see, at some point.  A friend of a friend was bringing more dogs into a world which has no room for them, a world where, if they live, another dog will die.

I wanted so badly to add my comment to that thread, to ask that woman, who’s an elementary school teacher, what message she thought she was sending to her own children and to the kids in her class.  But I didn’t.  I thought about it for a few hours, and decided that it wasn’t my business.  I don’t know if I was a coward or a wise person, when I made that decision.

My former boss should tell her.  She hasn’t, apparently.  I would have thought the little puppy with the birth defect would have illustrated to her more clearly than anything else could have, the dangers of inbreeding and overbreeding and whatever else these (to me) crazy people do.  I suppose she thinks nothing like that would ever happen to her, which is, no doubt, what my former boss thought, until the puppy was born deformed.

Even if nothing goes wrong, to me there’s something very wrong about causing conception so that you can use the result to make a profit.  Ugh.  I’m glad I don’t have a kid in that woman’s class.  

And so I’m back at the mommy dog, abandoned in her crate between two dumpsters behind a BJs Club, on a night when the temperature hovered in the teens.  This is what some human being thought proper for a dog.  When I contrast that with what my former boss has done for her deformed puppy, it’s hard for me to get my head around the idea that both those extremes of dog ownership, and everything in between, exist in the human species.  The canine species is much more behaviorally consistent, and not for better or worse–it’s just for better.  

Here’s a link to the unfolding story of the dog given the temporary (or permanent, depending on what happens) name of Chesney:  http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=43129368441&id=1313213923#!/notes/pitty-love-rescue/rochester-ny-dumped-next-to-the-dumpster-in-her-kennel-in-bitter-cold-temps-head/480879028805?notif_t=note_reply

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One Response to Close To Home

  1. Anja says:

    You made a good choice in sort of minding your own business.
    One of the things I have learned from my animals is that pressure often causes resistance. Sometimes it works… but more often it does not and creates another problem. If we want to effect change we will be much more successful in “leading”.
    Amazingly enough, a lot of people still don’t know about things like puppy-mills and how many great dogs are put to sleep every day simply because we as people take more time to learn how to use our blackberry or i-pod than learn how to communicate with our dogs.
    The word ‘choice’ is scattered all over my life these days. I value the choices I have, try to make better choices and when I am faced with the dilemma of witnessing someone making a ‘bad choice’ I try to think of a way to help them choose better.
    I feel very strongly about breeding dogs.
    I think good breeders, people that choose the gene-pool wisely and whose goal is to produce a litter that is well-equipped to perform the job they were bred to do in the first place are incredibly valuable. They don’t usually breed for profit, it tends to support their addiction to the dogs.
    I don’t support breeders that breed for looks or the show-ring only. And puppy-mills need to become a thing of the past 10 years ago!
    Open communication, sharing of information and keeping every-ones best interest in mind is probably the best way to lead Americans to become even better dog-owners.
    “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
    ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer

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