I don’t always know the background of the fosters that I get, but when I have found out the stories it usually breaks my heart. And not always for the dog, but sometimes for the owners. For many of my fosters, they were given up because the owner was very sick or died unexpectedly. I will never forget picking up my fosters Bear and Roxie at their owner’s home and seeing him cry as we took the dogs away. The owner was very sick and going to move in with his daughter for hospice care. When he died a month or so later, his obituary asked for donations to go to Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue. He loved those dogs so much that he made sure they were cared for even when he no longer could, the ultimate responsibility of a dog owner.
Part of dog ownership is caring for your dog for life, and that can mean knowing what you’d do with your dog if something were to happen to you. Rescue groups like Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue serve an important purpose to help out families who can no longer care for their dogs for whatever reason. Many individuals contact this group when they have to give up a dog, knowing that the dog will get a chance to go straight into a home and be cared for until his or her forever home is found.
In my mind, sickness and death are the only reasons to give up a dog and in an ideal world, rescue groups would only have to take in dogs from these circumstances. And in this ideal world, no one would ever drop a dog off a shelter, scared and alone. But sadly, that is not the case and rescue groups take in just as many dogs that have been abandoned at shelters. Because shelters are constantly overcrowded, groups like Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue, also pull dogs from shelters, like in the case of my recent foster, Boogie. Boogie was dropped off at the Cobb County Shelter in Marietta, Georgia. I don’t know the circumstances of the family that gave him up, and I don’t want to judge since it may not have been an easy or thoughtless decision, but when I saw this photo from his intake record, my heart broke.
It’s the trusting smile that kills me. Boogie has no idea his family just dropped him off at a shelter, all alone never to see him again. When I see Boogie’s trusting smile, my heart breaks for him, but also all the other dogs who won’t make it out, or the ones who will spend weeks or months alone at the shelter waiting for a chance to get out. Boogie was one of the lucky ones, being young and cute meant that the shelter knew they could find a rescue group for him. It’s not always the case for the old, the fat, the slightly mean or aggressive ones who are stressed from being left at a noisy shelter. Those dogs deserve a chance out too, but too often don’t get it.
I am not familiar with this shelter (although I have been told it’s a high kill shelter) and I know that many shelters are filled with caring individuals who dedicate their time to make these animals feel safe and secure, but I think we can all agree a shelter is not an ideal place for a dog to spend any amount of time. And, the sad fact is, the more dogs that end up at a shelter means the more dogs that will be euthanized for being too old, too challenging, or maybe even just a certain breed.
So this is all I ask. Make a plan for your dog. If something were to happen where you could no longer care for your dog, do a little research on what would be best. Ask that one friend on Facebook who is always posting dogs pictures (because we all have one of those, like me 🙂 ), if they know of any rescue groups or organizations that might be able to assist. Rescue groups take the load off of shelters and give dogs the chance to decompress in a home environment which makes the life change a little easier.
And if you know someone looking to give up a dog, educate them about alternatives to an animal shelter. Ways they can keep the dog, or if they have to give them up, lead them to a rescue group that can help.
And most importantly, know that when you add a dog to your family, you make a commitment to care for that dog for life. You don’t give it up because the dog is too old, or sick, or having some behavior issues. If you aren’t willing to care for the dog as you would a member of your family, don’t get one. You are responsible for another life, don’t let your decisions lead to their suffering or the suffering of other dogs in the community.
And, just an update on Bear and Roxie because I love this so much. Bear, the younger dog, was one of my most fearful fosters. Because the owner was older and got sick when Bear was young, I don’t think he socialized him much. Bear was adopted with his sister Roxie by a wonderful family who has devoted their time to training and making, especially Bear, feel safe and comfortable. Now Bear is competing and winning in Rally competitions! This is my absolute favorite foster story, and just another example of the fact you can never give up on a dog!
Before and after Bear. On the left, hiding under my bed, on the right, winning Rally competitions!
Boogie is up for adoption with Central Ohio Pomeranian Rescue: https://www.facebook.com/pg/OhioPoms/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2201785316556883
And please check out all of the dogs up for adoption at the Cleveland Kennel. If you can’t adopt, donations, monetary and otherwise, are always welcome: https://www.petango.com/cacc