No, this isn’t my sister’s Havanese, but you get the idea…
“There are two kinds of people…” and one of the most undeniable ways to finish this much-worn sentence is “those who understand dogs and those who don’t.” To understand them is to marvel at them, cherish them, and love them. Not to understand them, as an astounding number of humans do, is to live in ignorance and fear, and to miss out on one of the mystical joys of life: bonding with an animal.
I never fully appreciated this until my younger sister under went a rare midlife conversion, changing sides from the canine-phobic to the dog-allied. Divorced, she was faced with an empty nest, and though she had always emulated my mother, who had nothing but contempt for dogs (cats too), decided that she could not bear returning to a house with no one to express joy that she had returned.
My wife, who had witnessed my sister’s callous treatment of our dogs, who were greatly insulted, was dubious, and was certain her new companion, an abusrdly cute, cheerful, silly, dumb as a brick Havanese named “Elphie,” would be neglected. She has never been happier to be wrong.
My sister’s entire attitude has changed, not merely toward dogs, but toward the whole of humanity and the world. She is happier, friendlier, more resilient and less anxious. She has fearlessly assisted a huge lost wolf hybrid; she has guided a wandering Great Dane home; she lets pit bulls leap up to lick her. Now she complains that she missed so many years of interaction with what she has learned are fascinating, empathetic, loving creatures with individual personalities and the ability to surprise and delight every single day.
I thought of my sister as I read Lisa Weber’s Comment of the Day on the most recent Ethics Alarms post about the other side. Here it is:
A dog’s heart is cooperation over competition. Here in SoCal the shelters are full of Pitties and Chi’s and their mixes. I blame greedy ignorant breeders, a throw away society that thinks nothing of getting rid of dogs that become an inconvenience, and a lazy society that won’t put the effort and time into researching before acquiring, socializing and training….but still wants a puppy over an adult dog…
I sit at my desk, typing this listening to the soft snores of the dogs at my feet. All 16 of them. Yesterday there were 17. I had to help one old fellow shuffle off the mortal coil yesterday. Some asshole dumped him and his elderly lady friend at the shelter, claiming they “found them running stray”. Because they were “stray” the shelter by law had to hold them 5 days for their owner to reclaim them, which never happened. See in our state, it costs $80 to surrender your dog, but to drop off a stray is free. Hence we get a lot of strays that certainly weren’t stray.
The little old pug dogs, Monty and Matilda, sat on the cold, cement floor of a kennel terrified for 5 days before I could be allowed to get them. By then they both had caught kennel cough and an intestinal bug. Matilda has a collapsing trachea, and her kennel cough quickly turned to pneumonia. I had to put her in my ICU cage on oxygen twice to save her life. She is recovering now, but still doesn’t want to eat much. Her boyfriend Monty had bizarrely abnormal x-rays and an ultrasound revealed a huge tumor on his liver which was displacing his other organs. I had him just two weeks before having to let him go. At least he died warm and loved with gentle hands and the tears of someone who loved him on his coat instead of on the cold cement with a heart stick. That is how he would have died if I didn’t intervene. Both of them little old balls of furry love. How can humans fail their oldest companions so completely?
In rescue we agonize over the pitties, staffies, American Bulldogs, mastiffs and other “bully” breeds as well as dobies, shepherds, rotties and others with bad reps. So many are such wonderful dogs, but no one wants to take a chance and adopt them….except the fighters. I have seen them come to the shelters, they walk the aisles and kick and rattle the cages, they yell at the dogs, looking for the one that hits the fence aggressively. They write the number down and send their girlfriends and wives to adopt the dogs ( this happens to many a Craigslist free dog as well). Or even worse, they adopt passive, submissive dogs to use as bait dogs. I had a bait dog. He was a pug mix. Sweet as could be. They filed his teeth – I don’t know why, he would have never bit anyone, man nor beast. His skin was like a mosaic of scars where he had been torn open, crudely sewn back shut and torn open again. He never lost his trust and love of people or other dogs. I named him Edgar Allan Pug and he was adopted by a lovely family who had him until he passed.
No, there should not be breed bans. There should be idiot breeder and owner bans. It is not the dog that is at fault, it is man and his greed and irresponsible and selfish ways.