When a home is not a home as I know it to be
Recently I’ve found myself getting involved in online discussions on people giving dogs up for rehoming and as expected, things get heated, points are made and misunderstood, opinions are aired and not appreciated, emotions run high. All par for the course when it comes to online discussions. But I really should know better than to jump into them. Only, if everyone shied away from trying to have honest discussions on tricky, important issues that affect thousands of dogs, nothing changes for the better. People never think about the flip side of what their instinctive, gut reactions tell them. The platitudes and crocodile tears lie unchallenged. But, online it’s always hard to get the balance right, to avoid alienating people, to stay respectful whilst adhering to what one’s knowledge tells them and values underpin. I have a brilliant quote on my bag from RARE bags “When all think alike, no-one thinks very much” which is a pretty good guide to how I approach life. In fact all the quotes I chose for the bag sum up why I will always speak out if I think it might contribute to changing things for the better.
But, I know people don’t like to be judged, or see someone judged who is giving up a dog because they can’t give the life to the dog that it should have. I get that, but not every case of rehoming should go by, soaked in sympathy for the one giving up on the dog. The particular trigger for my recent online rough and tumble was someone who within a year was looking for a new home for the puppy they had bought, from a breeder who they wouldn’t take it back to as they didn’t trust the breeder to do the right thing for the puppy. Yet they’d bought the puppy in the first place, and were experienced with dogs. There are many things that are going to get my hackles up in this scenario. Put aside knowingly buying a puppy from a less than great breeder, an experienced owner to my mind, should know what is expected through the lifetime of a dog and plan ahead for most normal life changes, like having a baby, or moving house, or having to work longer hours. These events happen all the time, and people who really see the puppy they buy as their companion, their family, will make sure the life of the dog is included in these changes and make necessary adjustments and arrangements. Especially if that person has had a dog before. Otherwise, they should not bring a dog into their lives.
I do see it might be different for people never having had a dog before, the reality can be quite different to the idea of living with a dog and being entirely responsible for its happiness and welfare, for many years. But, an experienced owner, giving up on a dog within a year because life no longer includes that dog, is something that I will judge, some will say harshly. My sympathies are never going to spent on the person in this scenario. My compassion lies with the dog. Who, rightly so will be better off in a new home. But, the point that irks me, is that this should not be necessary. When, Battersea Cats and Dogs Home say that over half the dogs they take in are under 3 years old, this demonstrates a societal ease with giving up on dogs that I don’t like. So, I will speak up and challenge those who feel the “heartbreak” that is being felt by the abandoner deserves sympathy. Well not mine.
Of course, I completely recognise there are going to be calamitous events in people’s lives where a dog can no longer remain within the family, but in my view, these are rare, not common and of the order of bereavement or life-changing illness. Not, normal, life events like moving home, changing job or home, all the other common reasons frequently thrown out nowadays by people handing on their “loved, baby, furkid”. Really?
There were people in the discussion that judged me harsh. I’m not harsh, or uncaring. Quite the opposite, but I do speak out when I see superficial words bandied around that masks the real issues which to me include a lack of responsibility towards what buying a dog in the first place really should involve. It goes to the heart of what is driving the puppy farming and hideous commercialism of dog breeding – people’s casual wish to buy a puppy but not make a genuine life-long commitment to it. It should not be easy for people to buy a pet. There were those who wanted me to keep quiet and who take the view that dogs will make the transition between homes easily. Some will, some certainly won’t. But, the point is, why should they have to? And then there was the comment, that a “forever” home is laudable but comes second to a “good home”. A forever home should be a good home and a good home should be forever in my view. I make no apologies for wishing society aspired to feel the same. It used to. Dogs were not abandoned in the massive numbers they are these days. Other countries don’t have this casual dumping of dogs going on. Sweden has very few rescue shelters, those they do have bring dogs in from other countries, because the Swedes see a puppy as a life-long commitment. So, when a forever home proves not to be within a year, because the experienced dog owner, who should have known what the dogs needs were, no longer offers their “loved” baby their home, I will speak up. Even if that isn’t the popular thing to do. A few truths aired may make some think harder about bringing that puppy into their world and not committing to its lifetime, come what may.