It’s been a while since I blogged, but something happened yesterday that made me want to have a outlet for expressing my opinion so here I am! Here is a little background just for reference. I have three dogs, all of which I adopted, because I can’t stand the idea of supporting puppy mills or some poor, unwanted dog sitting in a cold cage because of an irresponsible owner. I adopted Coal, a lab-shepherd mix, from the Stillwater Human Society in Oklahoma. I was a Freshman in college and feeling home and dog sick, so I decided the best way to remedy that situation would be to get myself a new dog. I like to call him the best bad decision I ever made. He followed me all through college, long trips home, and the transition into my professional life. Joey, my 75-pound beagle mix (I know, right?!), was part of a litter of puppies that I fostered late into my sophomore that my boyfriend decided to adopt. So obviously, he is mine now too. Clark Kent, a blue-tick coon hound, was aptly named after we found him a year ago in the backyard of our new rental house as a six-week old puppy with a tummy full of worms, flea bites and without an ounce of fat on him. I had grand intentions of finding him another home, (I mean three dogs? Who does that?!) but after weeks of rehabilitating him, he was no one else’s but mine.
I love taking all of my dogs to the local dog park, they get so excited and I enjoy seeing them happy. It is not easy to wrangle three large dogs all at once, so I worked out a system. I typically get Joey out of the car first and then once he is in the park, I go back to the car for Coal and Clark. This all takes about three minutes and it is about the same process to get them all back in the car after they are done playing. Last night we did our typical dog-park dance and they were all having a great time. After about 45 minutes it was starting to get dark and most of the other owners were starting to leave. It was just me, my dogs and one other owner. I leashed Coal and Clark, then called out to Joey. He had just gotten a hold of a soccer ball (his favorite) and didn’t want to come. I took Coal and Clark to the car and came back for Joey. I got him on the leash and I noticed the other owner staring at me. I motioned to Joey, smiled and said, “My problem child.” His eye brows lifted and he said, “I thought he was being abandoned.” I replied that I simply couldn’t walk them all at the same time and began my way to the car with Joey, feeling suddenly sad that that idea had even occurred to someone.
Now, here is where I get on my exceptionally large soapbox. When you decide to take responsibility for a dog, you have made a agreement to care for that dog for the remainder of its life, even if that means finding it a new home if the worst should happen. You should never, under any circumstances abandon or abuse your animal. They trust you with everything that they are and care for you like the closest family member you will ever have. The idea that you could get a dog, keep it for a few years and then get tired of it, just makes me want to shake people. They have emotions, they can feel pain and they know loss. If you give them love, they will give you every ounce of themselves. People have so much in their lives, but our animals only have us and then people continually treat them like they are nothing, disposable. They deserve the very best that we can give and if you can’t follow through with that promise, don’t bring a dog into your life.
A few months back, my dogs got out of my backyard and both Joey and Coal were hit by a truck. Joey’s tail was a little mangled but he was otherwise alright. Coal got the worst of it and was lucky enough to be transported to the OSU Veterinary School, minutes after he was hit, by a passing vet student (before I even knew what happened). When I got to the hospital, he wasn’t doing well and had very low chances. The vet on-duty asked me several times if I was sure I wanted them to continue trying to help him. I just couldn’t give up on him without knowing the full extent of his injuries. It turns out I was right to hold out hope, his internal injuries weren’t as bad as originally thought and once the shock had passed he started to get better. He had to be in the ICU to two weeks, most of that time in an oxygen chamber. I visited him as much as they would let me and I thought about him constantly. He is back home with me now, with no signs of his trauma other than a couple bald spots from scars. Everyday I am thankful for him and I have never regretted my decision to save his life because that is the promise I made to him the day I took him home from the shelter.