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June 03, 2003

Lifting my leg for "Canine-one-one"

While I can't, you know, "surf the web" without opposable thumbs for that mouse thing that does not smell like a mouse at all, I can get things read to me. And when the taller Dad read me this Slate article about rescue dogs, I got a little irritated.

I am a rescue dog. The Dads got me from some nice women who run a resuce place up by Burlington; the women had taken me from a breeder in Eastern Washington who raises cattle dogs to be cattle dogs. In a snap judgment that I will work my whole doggy life to disprove, my sister Ayla and I were deemed to small to do the job. So it was either find someone who wanted a pair of farm reject pups, or kill us. (Frankly, I'm more of an urban pup at heart anyway-- I don't even like to walk on grass, much preferring the sidewalk.) The breeder also didn't do much to introduce us to people, which explains the fact that I really, really like to hang out in my crate. I'm shy, but getting better. Like Saturday, when the nice neighbors and the Dads and their friends (one of whom seems really down lately, maybe I can lick him and make him feel better) were hanging out in the back yard-- I liked being part of the pack.

So the guy who wrote this article has a bone to pick with people who rescue dogs, saying that claiming a dog was abused lets people get out of training us. This sounds like a bit of a reach, and maybe he should do a bit more research. Statements like this give me pause:

But many professional trainers and dog lovers have become wary. They often roll their eyes when people explain that their dogs have been abused, seeing that as an excuse for obnoxious or aggressive behavior and as a way to avoid the effort of training. Many also sense a need for some dog owners to see their pets as suffering victims, rather than animals.

A bit facile, don't you agree?

Take me, for instance. The Dads have a lot of work to do even before they can really train me-- I have to get less skittish before I master that whole "sit" thing. (And what the hell is "fetch" all about-- always with the ball!) And I'm sure you've all heard a bit about my unfortunate accident a couple of weeks ago... I just freaked out a little bit, had some gastroenterological issues, and really wanted to go out. I just didn't realize that Shorter Dad's patio was 50 feet up. So I can't fly-- this is the kind of thing you have to learn, but I emerged mostly unscathed and just can't help but think that it wouldn't have gone down that way if I didn't have some anxiety issues. I've never been abused, as far as I remember, but just because nobody beat me doesn't mean I don't need a little extra help. So I'm a special-needs puppy-- so bite me, Slate guy.

Neither of the dads strike me as the kind of guy with a doogie-messiah complex. (My middle name, FYI, is pronounced Hay-soos and has something to do with my birthday being Christmas.) They are busy guys with fulfilling lives-- they just happened to see me on (which the Slate guy treats as somehow nefarious, like a creepy injured-dog dating service) and decided that I looked like a good dog. And I am.

I am sure there is a grain of truth to the article. There are a lot of lonely people, people who need something to love that needs them back. But how churlish do you have to be to pick on people who choose to treat this condition by exercising compassion and care for animals in need? I'm really sorry Slate guy got tackled by an over-enthusiastic rescue dog, and yeah, the dog would probably be better off with a little training. I'm sure that person will come around-- some day a shoe will be missing and the next day they'll start obedience school.

Posted by jay at June 3, 2003 10:49 AM | TrackBack
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The world needs more thoughtful puppies like Dozer, not to mention more thoughtful humans.

Posted by: Peter on June 3, 2003 05:02 PM
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