Monday, March 31, 2014
Choosing People Over Pets
Pets give loyal, unconditional love. People? Not so much. Over the years, I have yet to see a situation where a pet has been given up for a new boyfriend/girlfriend (or even an old relationship) work out well for the person who is relinquishing the pet. I'm going to give three examples before getting to the one in question today.
I was volunteering at a local shelter. A young woman was moving in with her boyfriend who didn't like her four year old Shih Tzu. She sobbed while filling out the relinquishment papers. The dog tried his best to comfort her. The boyfriend sat a table away, ignoring her embarrassing display (he was bright red and shooting her disgusted glances while rolling his eyes - that's how we knew he viewed it as embarrassing). Though we all tried to ask her to reconsider, keeping the dog was not an option if she wanted to move forward in her relationship. I will never forget how hard this poor dog tried to calm his owner down. He crawled onto her lap, he licked her tears, he leaned into her as hard as he could. In the end, he came with us and she went on her way. He got a great home. She came back later (I can't remember now if it was a few weeks or a few months) to see if she could get him back. The boyfriend had kicked her out anyway. The dog was not the issue.
I've had several rough emails this week. Too many of them have been: Need to rehome dog/cat because of boyfriend/girlfriend/daughter moving in/moving home. I've had an email trying to rehome an 8 year-old dog because the new girlfriend doesn't like him ("he's too big"). I've had an email trying to rehome the 10 year-old cat because the daughter is having to move back home and doesn't like cats. I can't imagine how confusing that is for a pet to go from a loving home one day to an animal shelter the next - and not have any clue why they are being left in that scary place full of strange sounds and smells. They must pine for their owners, hoping as each new person shuffles through to stare at them that one of them will eventually be their long, lost owner.
In the end, it's rarely ever about the pet. I see it over and over again - like the show, an ultimatum is given: it's ME or the DOG/cat. Sometimes, it's a power struggle. Other times, I don't know what to make of it. I do know that pets are family. I know that they are far more loyal than people. When you adopt a pet, you're making that commitment to take care of them for their lifetime - not until someone you start dating decides that THEY don't want the pet. I just really want people to think before they move forward. Why is this person asking me to give up my dog or cat? Why is that so important to them? And, what am I giving up when I let go of my pet? Your pet doesn't care how you dress, what you weigh, if you want to stay in your pajamas all day and watch "The Walking Dead" marathon. They love you for you. They will never ask you to give up your person. They will always be there for you. Don't we owe it to them to always be there for them?