Today is heartbreak day in dogland. And realistically speaking, most days are heartbreak days when it comes to dogs, since so many are killed in shelters, relegated to backyards, or abandoned on the streets.  But for some reason it always hurts a little more when you know the dog, and that is the case for me right now. I always grow a little attached to the dogs I work with, even the ugliest, most obnoxious ones.  I affectionately refer to my behavior cases as my “special children” and–at the risk of sounding very sappy–I do think of the dogs in my care as my children.  So you can imagine that when a case goes sour, I take it quite personally.  It’s probably not good to shed so many tears over a “job” as I do, but when I think about it I know if I didn’t care this much, I probably wouldn’t be any good.  I have only been on one case to date that resulted in euthanasia, and it ate at me for weeks, especially since that dog probably didn’t need to die.  The reason for the heartbreak this week is a little mixed-breed dog I worked with for basic puppy issues like potty training and loose-lead walking, and later for resource guarding.  Long story short, this family should have got a goldfish, not a puppy.  They were not even close to willing to devote the energy it takes to raise a dog, let alone a resource-guarder, he is now boarding indefinately until a home can be found.  A daycare dog who was placed in the worst home possible for him by our local incompetent shelter was causing some friction in his home.  His owners came to us a few weeks ago saying they were going to place him, and we offered to help find a home.  Next thing we know, there he is on the shelter’s website (yep, the same shelter that fucked up in the first place).  Don’t get me wrong, a lot of animal shelters do really good work, but the fact of the matter is there are too many dinky little shelters with absolutely no qualified staff that will tell a potential adopter anything to get the dog out of the kennel.  Those places are HURTING not helping, in my opinion. 

So there go two of my kids, kicked out of their homes by people who had some Disney image of dogs in their brains.  I wish all dogs could say just these words to their potential adopters, “I am a dog.  All I ever do is what I know works for me, and if it doesn’t work for you, I need you to show me what does.  I would like you to know that sometimes I will be a challenge, and I am sure you yourself are no different, but I will always be honest.  If I bite, know that it is because I am afraid.  If I ever bark, know that it is because I am trying to say something. If I ever pee in the wrong place, know that I do not understand where the “right” place is.  If I chew up something of yours, know it is because I need to chew, and your stuff was just there, smelling like you.  Know that I need you to protect me from disease, teach me human words, feed me good food, and stick up for me when children are bothering me–for not doing these things is the quickest way for me to meet death. Know that I am not disposable. Know that I want to be a good dog, and if you show me how, I will give you as many years of companionship as my body allows.”  This way when people fail their dogs–which is what happens when dogs are dumped in shelters–they at least can not claim they didn’t know better, because the dog himself will have told them all the things they needed to hear.