WTF Wednesday: That’s Just Shitty

4 Dec

It all comes back to poop, right?

 

Sad little turd

According to the company behind this lovely toy, “Abandoned at birth, Mr. Poops* could not understand why no one would want him. Alone, in the hot sun, he was left to dry out with no hope of survival. With each passing dog he hoped that he would not be so dried out that no one would recognize him as they sniffed looking to find their own family. Please adopt Mr. Poops and give him the family he deserves.

Enough with the orphan poop sob story. Can we track down the asshole who left Mr. Poops spattered on the sidewalk in the first place?  I am sure our vigilante poo crew  would love to swing into action.

Also, according to Amazon, Mr. Poops is 10 inches long.   Clearly Mr. Poops’ “creator” has been eating shitty dog food.  May we suggest a nice grain-free food instead?

So, who wants to welcome Mr. Poops into their home this holiday season?  Doesn’t everyone want to see a massive turd** on their family room floor or dangling from Fluffy’s mouth?

Tastes like…kibbles and shits?

*yes, they named him Mr. Poops.  We would like to think his first name is Seymour.

**pretty sure this is the same pattern used to create the classic toy “Shermy the Spermy”. Ok fine, we just made that up. That toy doesn’t exist…yet.

Throat Punch…Monday? A mini-rant by BusyBee

24 Nov

Something happens when you are in your 30s and single (other than begrudgingly joining online dating sites to appease your mother).  People start to say really stupid shit to you about your personal life.   While much of it is not dog-related (think, “What is someone like you still doing being single? or “You better hurry up!”), there are at least two frequent dog-related comments that I’ve had said to me that fuel my hate-fire.  To save you from looking like an assmarmot in the future, please don’t ever utter one of the following:

 

Say it. I dare you.

 

 

1. “Do you think you’re single because you are so obsessed with your dog?”

If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard something along these lines I could hire someone to throat punch all the idiots who say this shit.  Seriously, who says this and thinks it’s a good or helpful thing?  I’d rather be single and happy with my dog than stuck with someone who thinks that my love for my dog is abnormal.   If a would-be suitor thinks that posting multiple photos of my dog sleeping on my Facebook wall or having his photo as my iPhone background is a turn-off, then so be it.   Any guy I date will either have to hop on the crazy train with me or at least understand and appreciate my devotion to my dog.   Bonus points if he’s willing to join me in the silly songs I sometimes sing to Mr. T.

 

2. “You must not have kids”

Let’s be clear here.  Just because I don’t currently have a child does not make me less of a woman or less of a human.  Whether or not I choose to have children in the future is frankly none of your business and in no way related to my love for dogs.  Many of my friends have human kids AND dogs and both are much loved members of the family.  Do yourself a favor and don’t assume that dog-loving women who have not yet popped a baby out of their loins simply love our dogs so much because we don’t have a human baby to dote on.   I am not trying to fill some childless hole in my heart by showering my dog with love and affection.  Frankly, if anything, should I choose to have a child down the line, I’ll be a damn good mother  based on what I learned from my dog.

And that’s perfectly ok

 

Any other inane comments you’ve gotten that you like to share?  Want to call me a crazy dog lady?  Go right ahead!

 

Love the one you’re with, idiot.

27 Oct

“My next dog will be awesome!”

Low key and truthful.

Low key and truthful.

A reasonable sentiment for most dog people.


“My next dog will be super awesome at this thing I’m a novice at but I really like and I would love to continue this in the future!”

Get out your pen. We're being awesome.

Get out your pen. We’re being awesome.

Also reasonable.


“My next dog will be the best dog ever at this thing I’ve never really seen outside of youtube or the odd morning cable station but I’m pretty sure it’ll be a prodigy like Mozart or that kid I saw on Ellen! I read about it on the internet and therefore I know this to be true.”

It's like this all the time.

It’s like this all the time.

Considerably less reasonable, also apt to piss off about 50 people who know more than you and aren’t in the mood to tell you all the ways you are wrong because it’s exhausting and they don’t feel like being “the meanest person ever”/’Hater/”just jealous!” before 9am.


Occasionally Potnoodle gets a little song of her own invention stuck in her head while reading through facebook groups and forum posts. She has a horrible singing voice, so she won’t perform it for you. All you need to know is the title is “Train the one you’re with” and it goes to the tune of ‘Love The One You’re With’.

 

Answer us this, Dear Readers, what is it about young eager dog people that makes them constantly plan for the near-mythical next dog? The type of person that starts a sentence with “My next dog…” often has a perfectly good mixed breed/backyard bred lab-ish thing that is wasting his talent on occasional bouts of fetch and maybe a novice agility class while the owner sighs and dreams of Malinois and Border Collies yet to be.

 

No, we sit. That's what flyball is, sitting.

No, we sit. That’s what flyball is; Sitting.

 

We get it. You have a dog who isn’t the class prodigy. It is too old, not as drivey as you think you deserve, too not interested, or doesn’t have the same aptitude for what you are trying to accomplish as that other woman’s border collie who is her 6th OTCH/MACH/HC/ONYX and obviously that’s the dog you need to succeed with…. Umm. No.

 

No one says this to novices.

No one says this to novices.

 

Here’s the thing, most high drive dogs are a giant pain in the ass. You nod like you understand, but if you’ve never lived with it you have no clue. And you want to know the serious kick in the ass? Those super-high drive dogs are a bitch to train. You are bottling lightning with little regard for personal safety and a super interest in literally everything. The most successful performance dogs do not always have the highest drive… we know, shocker right? Also the more you bandy about the word drive, the more we hate you.

“I’m gonna need to take this because it’s mine and you are irrelevant to my purposes”

 

Did we also mention high drive dogs (Or even medium drive dogs) are assholes? Potnoodle and Fang can attest to teeth related injuries because one of the dumbasses decided they needed “THAT THING RIGHT NOW NOW NOW NOW!* and guess whose delicate and prone to bleeding teeny human fingers/wrists/legs got in the way? It’s not even the occasional asshole moment, it is a cavalcade of consistently assholic behavior packaged into a furry beast whose adorableness can and does wear very thin particularly when you’re prone on the ground writhing in agony because that bastard bit your pinkie again while taking you down at the knees over a tug toy and this time you swear you’ll file down his canines into divots! Did we also mention these are the fully trained adult dogs? Not even the assy adolescents? We joke about brain-damage to own some of these dogs but on some level, it’s really not a joke. These dogs are a lifestyle and while you’re just starting to walk, and really talking more about walking than making actual steps, it’s not a good idea to get an ultra-marathoner who already does everything better than you do.

 

Head wounds bleed profusely.

Head wounds bleed profusely.

 

So here’s a secret. Your dog will be screwed up. It’s probably not the dog’s fault. It’s your fault and that’s okay! You’re new! You’re allowed to fuck stuff up. We’ve all done it. That affable pet you have now is going to be incredibly more forgiving (BusyBee can attest to this) than that super drivey hell beast you have planned for your next dog. Trust us. The woman on her 6th absurdly talented dog had a fat little Sheltie or Beagle or Lab who started her on the journey too.

Just to make sure it's irreversible.

Just to make sure it’s irreversible.

 

Another secret, no decent breeder is going to sell you a drivey hell beast if you haven’t done SOMETHING with a dog before. Decent being the key word here. Those who fall over themselves to hand you a dog, probably don’t actually own the drivey hell-beasts and haven’t seen it turn into nightmare scenarios with previous purchasers just like you. Sure, you can run out and get a crappy backyard bred dog of your desired breed, and then you get to use the excuse of his poor breeding and you’re back in “My Next Dog…” land. The lovely land of internet forums also makes it so you can also talk a good enough game to appear knowledgeable and fleece a good breeder who isn’t as naturally skeptical of buzzwords as others. That makes you an asshole.

And our readers, obviously.

And our readers, obviously.

 

Basically kids, you need to learn what it is that you really want, rather than what you think you want. So you think you might want a Bordernoisterriattle Shepherd? Go visit people with them. Make nice. See if you can borrow or dog sit for a day or even just hang out. Talk to owners about trials and tribulations. Compare battle scars (Not that you have any yet). That woman with six dogs who have more titles than you thought existed? She’s paid her dues in literal blood, sweat and tears. Until you’re bleeding, sweaty and crying, you don’t need that dog and we promise you, you really don’t want that dog just yet. Keep your training wheels on for a while yet and dance with the dog you came with.

Who says success only comes in one package?

 

So you want to start a dog forum fight…

21 Oct

We’ve all seen it.  A seemingly innocent question is asked in a dog forum and then suddenly….MASS CHAOS.  From shaming, to name calling (pro tip:  Please come up with something better than poopyhead if you ever want to be taken seriously.  We suggest assmarmot or shitweasel), to complete psychotic breaks, we’ve seen it all.  If you want to avoid being “that person” who flamed the fire, we suggest avoiding the following topics.  And alternatively, if you are a shit-stirrer like we suspect many of you are, take your pick!

1.Asking what people think of Cesar Millan

Ah, CM, the trolliest topics of all.  Guaranteed for at least 100 comments, 3 personal insults, and at least one mention of Hitler. Proceed with caution.

Truer words were never spoken.

 

2. Posting a picture of your child riding your dog like a pony.

This never ends well. For bonus rage, mention neighbourhood pony dog races and ask where to buy a custom dog saddle that is lightweight and comfortable.

 

3. Ask if Kibbles-n-Shits is a good dog food.

People get crazy when it comes to what they feed their dogs.   We’ve literally seen people refer to kibble as ‘death nuggets’ before in forums.  DEATH NUGGETS. We’re pretty sure some of the funniest and most outlandish forum fights stem from what starts as a simple discussion of canine nutrition (or lack thereof).

 

4. Mention getting a dog anywhere but a reputable breeder or rescue 

Was your breeder reputable? Were they reputable… enough? It doesn’t matter if your breeder has 10 generations of CHIC numbers, All GrCh dogs and titles on the other end too…. someone will bring up SOMETHING. And they’ll judge you for it. To a lesser degree, this happens with rescues too but it’s much more evident in dogs from breeders.

Kid, you don’t know the half of it.

 

5. Bring up your training style.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter what your training style is.  Some people will love it.  Some will hate it.  Lines will be drawn and a war of words will begin.

I only use organic, free-range clickers

 

 

6.  Proclaim your love (or hate) for Doodles.

Do we even have to explain this one? It’ll mostly be Potnoodle yelling at you, but if that’s how you get your jollies, who are we to judge?

Just read our past blogs for evidence.

For another post on the shit-shows that are dog forums, check out our post on the types of people who use dog forums.

 

That’s a lot of -Insert Breed Here-: The National Breed Specialty, Fang and you.

14 Oct

So a crazy-ass boss (Not mine) and vehicular concerns (Very much mine) have shortened my trip to my breed’s National specialty somewhat suckily I figured I’d offer a recap on my findings and some hints that may make it moderately less crushingly awkward (Or more so because I am not an un-awkward individual) to attend your next or first breed-event. So just some quick things I feel were worthy of comment…

If you think I'm joking that works too.

If you think I’m joking that works too.

1) Spectating is usually more fun than participating.

I came, I saw, I golf-clapped.

I came, I saw, I golf-clapped.

Time crunches and throwing dogs at people is the normal way of things at overbooked dog shows. While I’m personally all for entering what you feel comfortable in, don’t stretch yourself too thin. Two or three things a day is more than enough and often too much. It’s a very very long week even for spectating, so take a breath on the whirlwind tour and give yourself a day to acknowledge how interesting the dogs, and probably more importantly the people are in your breed. Don’t be compelled to participate in everything, however tempting. Under-booking is a less stressful experience than overbooking.

2) Everyone’s dog is wonderful and don’t you forget it.

All the time.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but for many people, most of whom you will meet at specialties, their Snookums Sugar-Pie Price of My Heart hung the moon, invented the cell phone and is the lead litigator in the libel case against this blog for hurting their feelings. Even the vernacular is painful. Their dogs are flawless specimens of perfection and that’s all anyone will ever talk about (Other people’s dogs are fair game). If you’re looking to improve your knowledge, these are not the people who can assist you. It’s fairly easy to spot the bullshitters but people are more easily drawn in than one might expect. Honestly assessing your own knowledge level and comparing what you know to others in the breed *forever* is always a good policy and never will you get an opportunity like a National.

Also, don’t be that person. Everyone is proud of their dog. You don’t need to take out a banner ad and carry it with you from sunrise to sunset. Answer questions and celebrate your dog, but no one needs a minute by minute recap, or your assessment of the competition. Graciousness is a worthy goal. Bragging is annoying, and no one is as impressed by you as you are. There’s a fine line between excited and obnoxious. Tread carefully.

3) A picture isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on

That these aren’t real is a source of great distress.

Holy crap do some dogs look entirely different from page to reality. It’s shocking how big a variance there is between printed and shared vs. human contact.

 

4) There is such a thing as offensively competitive.

Exactly.

If you’re going to a national to win and you are not in the top five ranking dog in your breed you’re quite possibly deranged. There are many many many reasons to attend a national, “winning” is obscenely low on the list. Tacky behavior* to get that win is frankly inexcusable, and usually doesn’t pay off.

5) Get your alone time in

Sometimes I can barely stand at the end of the day.

Sometimes I can barely stand at the end of the day.

Unless you are so extroverted you can suck the life from the joy of others, make sure you get some time in by yourself. Go for a walk, bring the dogs and zone out for a bit. It’s an exhausting stretch of time. Fun, yes, but tiring.

6) Be a trend spotter

It is in fact that crazy.

Notice something weird happening in your breed? Make a note of it because it’s probably not going away. Weird heads? Bad Toplines? Bad rears? Bad temperaments? Yup, they’re back kids and they’re fairly inescapable if you’re not thinking about the future.

7) Applause is for everyone not just your friends

It really is that remedial

Nothing is more disheartening than crickets when you take your dog around the ring following thunderous applause. You don’t have to like the dog, respect the person or even care one way or the other to pull out your best golf clap and give each competitor their proper respect.

8) Be Useful

Woot!

You don’t have to solve the world’s problems but taking some initiative to help organizers or even fellow breed people isn’t rocket science.

9) Sleep as much as possible

It’s just not. Stop Trying.

You don’t get a special badge for doing it all on three hours a night even if you should.

9.5) Buy a damn catalog

Or you have to borrow and it’s annoying and you get yelled at when you make notes in it.

10) Don’t be a Tacky Bitch

It is.

This seriously bears repeating. If you have to think about whether or not it’s okay to do, it probably isn’t.

On the whole I’ll say the experience was entertaining with moments of eye-opening crazy. In conclusion, Tutus were worn, money was raised, dogs were (mostly) well behaved, I have enough ribbons to make a small ribbon nest, no one talked to me (Typical since I’m not social) and we didn’t shame ourselves. See ya next year, peeps.

Full on heel-click.

Full on heel-click.


*Also I haven’t forgotten about the shares t-shirt. Wit the Facebook change-over it’s not so easy to track shares but we’re figuring something out.

This is not Burger King, you cannot have it your way.

3 Oct
Supersize me!

Supersize me!

We aren’t here to judge if you supersize your meal, or order a Happy Meal because you’re  broke and you like apples and chicken nuggets make great training treats… wait. That was a tangent. Moving on. Our point was that we really need you to stop custom sizing your dogs. And by ‘you’ we mean shitty breeders. And by custom sizing, we’re thinking of your tea cup Saint Bernards and your Royal Standard Poodles.

Not this kind

 

They say size doesn’t matter (that’s what she said), but apparently to many people it does.  What’s more special than a Malamute?  A Giant Malamute.  More precocious than a Lab?  A Miniature Lab.  From Pocket Beagles to Miniature Rottweilers, they’re pretty much making it all nowadays.


Among her vices, BusyBee counts an obsession (mostly so I can snark…I swear) with celebrity gossip.  So naturally she was among the first to see that Paris Hilton recently bought herself a micro-teacup Pomeranian.   Not just any micro-teacup Pomeranian, mind you, but the WORLD’S SMALLEST micro-teacup Pomeranian.  In case you’re sitting here thinking “Oooh, I need one”, let me take a second to give you some solid life advice: If you find yourself doing the same thing as Paris Hilton, it’s time to rethink your life choices.  

First of all, keep him out of the light, he hates bright light, especially sunlight, it'll kill him. Second, don't give him any water, not even to drink. But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget, no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs, never feed him after midnight.

First of all, keep him out of the light, he hates bright light, especially sunlight, it’ll kill him. Second, don’t give him any water, not even to drink. But the most important rule, the rule you can never forget, no matter how much he cries, no matter how much he begs, never feed him after midnight.

I, Potnoodle, have standard poodles. I get the appeal of a dog breed that comes in multiple sizes but so often they’re bred by the shittiest of breeders. While visiting  Fang in another state that is not the state I live in, I always drive past the Miniature Dalmatians sign. Do you know any responsible breeders that thinks a billboard on a major highway is a good idea? Can you imagine how many families going on vacation are lured in by the idea of a pocket sized version of that one dog from those movies? Because I can, and it keeps me up at night.

Miniature? That’s pointless. I’ll need at least two hundred and one for a decent coat

 

The real question we have for you, gentle readers, is why humans are obsessed with the size extremes. You could get either a beautiful and responsibly bred thirteen inch beagle or you could go get a Queen Elizabeth Pocket beagle which will most certainly have shitty knees, probably has Dachshund in the lineage somewhere, and will likely get larger than 13 inches anyway. That’s the thing about the tiny breeds ( and some of the larger ones)… they have something mixed in there to make them tiny. Papillon, Pomeranian, Chihuahua, Demon Bat…. something.   Whatever it is, we beg you to step away slowly.

Don’t feed your dog a vegetarian diet, you damn hippie.

23 Sep

Said no dog ever.

Ok, let’s talk dog nutrition.  Dogs are carnivores.   Well, two out of three Dog Snobs say so because technically speaking, Giant Pandas are also carnivores if we’re being literal, even though their diet consists of 90% plant matter. Anyways, what we can definitely all agree on is that dogs are NOT meant to eat a vegetarian diet. We know your rescued Formosan Mountain Dog, Kale, loves her vegan kibble, but guess what, you dirty dirty hippie–dogs love cat shit. That doesn’t mean that your dog can exist entirely on Kibbles n’ shits,  though they might do a bit better than on your weird soy based nuggets.

Let’s play a game. We’re going to post the ingredient list an AAFCO approved Vegan Dog Food and the ingredient to a Guinea Pig Food and ask you to tell us which is which…

 

Food A: Dried Peas, Brown Rice, Pea Protein Concentrate, Oats, Sorghum, Lentils, Organic Canola Oil, Peanuts, Sunflower Hearts, Potato Protein, Brewers Dried Yeast, Alfalfa Meal, Flaxseeds, Natural Vegetable Flavor, Quinoa, Millet, Calcium Carbonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Vegetable Pomace (Carrot, Celery, Beet, Parsley, Lettuce, Watercress & Spinach), Taurine, Vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, Niacin, D-Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Supplement, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D2 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid), Choline Chloride, Minerals (Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Sodium Selenite & Calcium Iodate), DL-Methionine, L-Lysine, L-Carnitine, Parsley Flakes, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (Source of Vitamin C), Dried Cranberries, Dried Blueberries, Preserved With Citric Acid and Mixed Tocopherols (Form of Vitamin E)

 

Food B: Alfalfa Meal, Soybean Hulls, Wheat Middlings, Soybean Meal, Soybean Oil, Salt, Lignin Sulfonate, Cane Molasses, L-Ascorbyl-2-Monophosphate (Vitamin C), Limestone, Yeast Culture (dehydrated), Vitamin E Supplement, Choline Chloride, Zinc Proteinate, Zinc Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Niacin, Copper Sulfate, Selenium Yeast, Vitamin A Supplement, Folic Acid, d-Calcium Pantothenate, Copper Proteinate, Riboflavin Supplement, Manganese Proteinate, Biotin, Manganous Oxide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Magnesium Sulfate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Cobalt Carbonate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Calcium Iodate

 

Food B is, of course, the guinea pig food, but but we really feel there should be more difference between the two.

Here’s the thing–there is a difference between thriving and surviving.  While theoretically a dog could subsist on a vegetarian diet, it doesn’t mean it’s ideal. Plus, if you really claim to be humane (and isn’t that the reasoning behind most vegetarianism), isn’t part of that also about respecting different species’ inherent needs?  So, if you must own a vegan or vegetarian pet… get a damn rabbit.

Unless you’re Monty Python. In that case…Run away! Run away!

For a look back at a previous post on our personal vegetarianism and feeding our dogs, click here.

WTF Wednesday: The Dying Alone Version

17 Sep

Ready for Christmas? No? Us either, but we do have the perfect gift for the saddest people you know… and we mean really, really, really sad.

 

We’re pretty sure this is not what The Beatles meant when they crooned, “I want to hold your hand”.

We’re pretty sure this is not what The Beatles meant when they crooned, “I want to hold your hand”.

That will come in…handy.

We are also fairly certain that the type of person who uses this leash also sleeps with a boyfriend pillow.

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 12.42.20 PM

Don’t be that person.

Owner Profile: The Do I Need a Vet Dunce

9 Sep

Description:  The polar opposite of the “Hounding Hypochondriac”,  the “Do I Need a Vet Dunce” rarely, if ever, gets their dog vet care, at least without desperate poking and prodding from friends, family, and internet strangers.   The DINAVD is unlikely to recognize a true emergency even if it literally hits them in the face in the form of pus.

 

Common Locations:  NOT at the vet, sitting on the couch eating bonbons while their dog hacks up an internal organ,  on Yahoo answers and breed specific Facebook groups asking “How much blood is too much?”

Hey, post on Facebook and see if there is a holistic cure, ok?

 

Breeds Owned:  Labs, Boxers and other accident prone dogs.  Dogs with protruding eyes like Pugs and Bostons.

And over there...on the floor.

And over there…on the floor.

 

Skill Level:  Skill level definitely follows a bimodal distribution.  Many are completely inexperienced and don’t realize what a true emergency is, while others are experienced dog owners who think they can take on any malady themselves even when they shouldn’t.

if-it-cant-be-fixed-with-duct-tape

Duct tape: Not just for resetting broken legs and cropping ears.

 

Catch Phrases:   “It’s just a flesh wound”, “He’ll get over it”, “Do you have any aspirin?”

 

 

Anecdotal Evidence:

Potnoodle:  The person that first comes to mind with this Owner profile is not someone I know in my every day life, but rather someone I once saw in an American Bully group I joined, not because I am a fan of the breed but more because I have an anthropological interest in people that measure their dog’s toughness by how large his head is. Anyway, the DINAVD in this situation was a “breeder” and had a bitch that had recently given birth. The bitch had since prolapsed and the Dumbass was asking if he could “shove it back in and hold it with a stitch” himself and avoid a vet visit. I nearly died. Needless to say, I’m no longer in that group.

Better ask other people who don't know what they're doing either.

Better ask other people who don’t know what they’re doing either.

 

BusyBee:  Among my other vices (mmm…cheese), I admit to having spent an inordinate amount of time on the “Answers” section of a popular dog-centric website.   Despite knowing better, I often find myself stuck in a spiral of stupidity brought on by the slew of DINAVD who routinely post there.  Whether it was asking if a broken leg would heal itself, if it was a bad sign that mama dog had started labor 3 days ago and no puppies had been birthed, or how to best pop a Pug’s popped out eye back into it’s socket , the answer is pretty much always the same… GO TO THE DAMN VET.   And yet, you’ll see people try to justify NOT going to the vet as hoards of internet strangers are pleading for them to seek professional help.   While it’s a good thing to have a working knowledge of canine first aid, it’s even more important that you recognize what is beyond your skill level…and getting off the damn internet to get it taken care of.

Because...the internet.

Because…the internet.

Sarah McLachlan, this is all your fault: A rant by BusyBee

29 Aug

Volunteering at my local city shelter as an adoption assistant, I work in the kennels while they are open to the public and work with people to find the right dog.  A big part of this includes answering questions.  I’ve been asked weird things (“Will his penis get bigger?”), inappropriate things, (“Can I let my kid pull on his ears and see how he does?”), and downright infuriating things, (“How much do you think it would be to crop that dog’s ears?”).  But at least once per shift, I get asked,  “Was he abused?”   This question, although well-meaning, make me want to pull my hair out.   Why? Because the assumption that all dogs who end up in shelters are “damaged” goods is a harmful notion.

We’ve all met these people, right?  The people that say my dog is afraid of *fill in the blank*, so I think he was abused.”  Fill in the blank with: teenagers, men, women, loud noises, people with hats, people without hats, people in pink…. you get the idea.   I’ve also literally seen people “test” a dog at the shelter by lifting their arm as if to hit the dog to see if he reacts. When the dog inevitably flinches, the potential adopter usually responds by saying something like, “Oh sad, someone used to hit him.”  I haven’t tried it (probably bad form for a city volunteer), but I often want to throw a punch at their throat and see if they flinch.

There is no disputing that horrible cases of abuse are discovered every day. We’ve heard the stories and seen the pictures (thank you, Sarah McLachlan). And, yes,  many of these animals end up in shelters. So there is a possibility that your shy or reactive dog could have been abused before you adopted him or her.  That being said,  I can literally count on my hands the number of dogs we’ve had in the four years I’ve been at the shelter who have come from abusive situations**.   In case you suck at math, that’s less than 10.  I’ve often found that people interpret shy behavior, skittishness, or anxiety as signs of an abusive past.  More likely than not, it’s due to shelter stress or undersocialization.   The truth is, most dogs in shelters have never been abused, but were surrendered because their owner had no time for them, got married, had a baby, can no longer afford the dog due to the recession, had issues with their landlord, etc etc etc.  If your adopted dog is skittish around certain people or situations, chances are he was simply undersocialized rather than being abused. Lots of shelter/rescued dogs have simply not dealt with many of the experiences that we take for granted.

While it may seem somewhat harmless for people to assume that most shelter dogs have been abused, this can be harmful in two ways.  First, it may prevent people from adopting perfectly lovely animals because they don’t want to deal with the aftermath of this imagined abuse.  Secondly, many owners use their pets’ imagined past as an excuse for their present behavior. If a dog exhibits fearful behavior towards a man, it might be dismissed as being a result of his past abuse, which in turn makes it less likely that people will actually work on the issue at hand. Where does this come from?  Probably because the whole concept of adopting a dog has become a “save the world” crusade. We are bombarded with images (yes Sarah McLachlan, I’m looking at you again) of abused, pathetic looking dogs now living in shelters, waiting to be saved and loved. This has inadvertently created the image that dogs need time and a lot of comforting because of the background or history that they are coming from and that most shelter dogs are abused. It creates the impression that rules, training and  structure can be cast aside for later, perhaps “when the dog is ready for it”. The truth of the matter is, no matter what your dog’s background is, you have to focus on the present and not dwell on his past, real or imagined.

 

**And as an aside, the abused dogs I have met at the shelter?  A majority of them have been among the most loving and forgiving.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,065 other followers