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Does your dog deserve YOU?

Greg & Koa

Of course, you might think you deserve a dog. Often, humans see a cute dog and believe, “I NEED to have that dog!” And they cuddle it and move forward with bringing a puppy (or older) dog into their house and shower them with affection/affection/affection. Then, things start to go horribly wrong: it has too much energy, it’s biting or nipping at owners/friends, it’s digging holes in the yard, it’s barking and lunging at strangers or other dogs, tearing up literally EVERYTHING! The list goes on and on. And, eventually, these dogs are dropped at shelters or euthanized simply because they are “too much” for the owners or the owners live a hostage’s life where they can go nowhere, and no one can visit. And they don’t choose to change themselves.

Why does this happen? Because the human did no research on the breed or on dogs in general, followed only their heart, and didn’t bother to explore the first and most basic question you should ask when deciding to get a dog; “Does this dog deserve ME?”

If you are willing to stay in this dog’s life in the long term when things get tough, and you can do the things it will take to move forward toward a successful relationship with your dog, then the answer is, “Full speed ahead!” But simply paying lip service with a naïve view as to what you think will be fine is admitting you are probably not the right person for the dog.

Puppies are a challenge. Adolescent dogs are a challenge. Our senior dogs can be challenging. All are the same and all are deserving of the best leader you can be FOR THEIR SAKE, NOT JUST YOURS! When Lisa and I started contemplating getting a dog, we did a lot of research and looked around for a while to find the right one because we COULD take every one of them home but not every one needed to be with us. I have had German Shepherds, English Mastiff’s, Great Danes, and a Shih Tzu and a Pug at various times of my life; Lisa had a couple of Labs through the years. We researched Rhodesian Ridgebacks and decided that the breed would fit our lifestyle, and their temperament would fit as well. Then we researched the breeder that could provide that, and we knew exactly what we were getting as far as medical, ancestry, and disposition are concerned. And, there is a reason they are not for first-time dog owners.

Koa was, and is, a beautiful soul. But puppies are always a shock because their energy level is often beyond expectations and Koa was no different. However, he is the dog we needed as well as wanted because we were the leaders he needed. And we all practice that every day. Malu (also a Rhodesian), who came to us as an 8-month-old, is also a challenge to help him mold his brain into what we need but while he is not Koa, he IS Malu and we nurture him the same way; through instinct and reinforcement, not just affection.

A potential customer called not long ago inquiring about her 9-year-old Boxer mix who had gotten aggressive with other dogs even though there are 2 dogs in the house. A door was left open and the dog ran out and attacked a dog walking with its owner. Although the other dog did not have hugely serious injuries, the other dog did require a visit to the vet. The dog doesn’t get walked and when it had been walked the dog was constantly in a Lead/Explore mode. The simplest solution would be to be more cognizant of doors and closing them (the old, “Good thing you don’t live in a submarine” thing…) and if you don’t wish to fix the problem by doing just that, maybe some education would be in order.

However, it was clear she just wanted to rehome the dog. I gave her some suggestions of Boxer rescues where she could start the search, but the next day she texted me to advise that her dog was self-scheduled to be euthanized in 2 days unless I could find a home for her! When asked for the reason for the rush, she said she WOULDN’T (not couldn’t) be able to be aware of shutting the doors in her house (my understanding was that she lived alone) and that the other people wanted the dog gone or they would call Animal Control (after the fact). And she was persistent.

So, kind readers, I will tell you what I wrote her in response. With an attitude like that, the dog doesn’t deserve to live with her. I told her that after the dog’s entire lifetime being spent with her if she gave up that easy that it said quite a bit about her. And I added that should she do that, she shouldn’t just drop the dog at a vet’s office that will put down a dog because you’re “frustrated”; stay while the vet injects that dog and ends its life. Be there as it slips away to death. At the very least, don’t leave the dog wondering where the owner – who has done the dog so wrong – has run off to and left them alone to die.

I have had to have dogs I’ve had euthanized and I have always been there, and I’ve had some die without me there because of natural causes. Some you reading this have gone through the same thing and while euthanasia is a part of our lives with dogs, it is NEVER easy. However, it’s always easy for the folks who run for the hills to continue their lives… and to get another dog. Or, in this case, what will happen to the other dog left behind?

Once you touch a leash, you are obligated to do whatever it takes to direct and protect. Once you take in a dog to your family, you have agreed to the same obligation… until next time be the leader your dog needs and deserves.

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