Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Importance of Researching

Puppies are adorable. It's so easy to fall for the cute wrapping without looking inside to see what we are getting. Golden Retrievers are known to be great family pets. They are. For very active families. The reason you see so many Goldens in the shelter system is because people get them without researching first to see if they fit their lifestyle.

Goldens need hours of rigorous exercise DAILY. This doesn't happen in your backyard while you are at work, as a member of my family is now finding out. She and her husband were looking for a second dog, despite working full time jobs and having an infant. It was the common "we want to get a companion for our other dog." Their other dog is a mastiff who doesn't move. Doesn't play. Just spends most of his time sleeping - in the yard, on the couch, on the living room floor. Sleep, sleep, sleep. Not the perfect companion for a young, active dog dying to play and get that energy out. Despite warnings from the entire family, they sought out a dog.

Good breeders won't sell to a family who isn't prepared for their breed. So this family member had to go to a backyard breeder. Plenty of cute little puppies to choose from, all of questionable lineage. They get cute little puppy home - and don't have time to train her. Or walk her several times a day. She spends 5 days a week in the backyard.

She's eating the siding off the house. Is this because she's a bad dog? No. It's because she is a bored, frustrated dog. This isn't the fault of the puppy. Our dogs are only as good as we make them. You get what you give. If your dog isn't behaving, chews everything and pees in the house, that's on YOU. You haven't done your job and your dog is proof of that.

I have an 80 pound dog who lives inside the house with us. She doesn't chew anything, inside or outside, and she hasn't had an accident since she was 9 weeks old. She didn't come this way. She didn't teach herself. She's a reflection of her owners. We put a lot of time and effort into her. We get compliments on the street from total strangers as she moves to the grass, sits at our feet and gazes up at us until they pass. She didn't just start doing this one day on her own. We've got three years on this dog. And we're still working. She's a work in progress.

But it's easier to blame the dog if they misbehave. We live in a society where no one wants to take responsibility for their actions, for the actions of their children or their dogs. My relatives are no different. They got a dog that didn't fit their lifestyle. If they had wanted a second dog that was right for them, they could have gotten another mastiff from a rescue - one that was a few years old, already housebroken and didn't need all the attention a puppy needs. Had they done their breed research (or listened to those of us who had), they would have seen this puppy was not a good match.

Unfortunately, it will now be the puppy who suffers. This puppy is about to lose his home through no fault of his own. They admit that they aren't willing to step up and do their part. They don't want to commit to this animal - to the amount of daily exercise and training - that this puppy will need to become a well adjusted adult dog. Buying from a bad breeder means that they have two choices because returning the dog is not an option - rehome the dog on their own (and risk making a horrible choice in owners, which will further damage the dog down the line) or drop it off a shelter (which could end in the puppy dying). Not fair either way for this poor puppy, is it? But this is what will happen now all because my family members didn't do their research.

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