Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Too Busy to Be A Good Dog Owner

I love people who were mediocre dog owners before they had kids who then become horrible dog owners after they have kids. "We can't walk Riley because we have to watch little Max" or some other lame excuse gets thrown around and accepted way too much. Unless you're Octomom that just doesn't make any sense. So you don't watch TV, you don't go out, you don't do anything except watch your children 24 hours a day seen days a week? I seriously doubt that.

I have a co-worker who has two overweight black labs. They are very high energy dogs but very sweet. She keeps them locked in the basement all day long and then lets them out in the backyard when she gets home. She says she doesn't walk the dogs because they don't walk well on the leash but they get so little attention I'm surprised they are even house trained. She goes to happy hour at least twice a week after work. She has two children but they are both in school all day. She is always at the water cooler discussing the latest episodes of Dancing with the Stars, the Biggest Loser, etc. Sounds like someone with a lot of free time to me. Not surprisingly her kids are very bad. Just like the dogs, they receive no discipline or structure and run wild. I find myself playing with her dogs and disciplining her children every time I go to her house.

To her credit, her husband does travel a lot and she is left with managing many of the household duties herself. But he earns well over $100,000 a year and she makes a good salary as well. They lead a pretty lavish lifestyle with frequent vacations, a big house, luxury cars, daily meals out and lots of toys for the kids and themselves. They definitely have the financial means to hire a dog sitter, take their dogs to a doggie day care or invest in some quality dog training.

She gained 60 lbs with her second child but managed to find time to walk on the treadmill for an hour every day while watching TV to take the weight off. It's too bad she doesn't care as much about her poor dogs as she does about the size of her ass. The problem is she had the dogs well before she had the kids and she claimed to never have time to train or exercise the dogs when it was just her and her husband. I think people get dogs because they think they are cute but they don't realize that having a dog is like having a child. It is a big responsibility and it takes a lot of time, money and patience on your part to do it right.

I have volunteered at no kill rescue organizations that were very strict with their adoption requirements. Dogs were not adopted out unless the perfect home was found for each dog. We did home visits, interviewed references and made sure that person's lifestyle matched up to what we felt the dog needed to be happy. Unfortunately this can't be applied to the Humane Society, ASPCA and other public rescue organizations that have limited funding and space. Is it better for two dogs to go to a home where they'll get minimal exercise and attention than for those dogs to be put down? Of course it is.

The rescue groups are not being frequented by this type of bad dog owner. My co-worker and many other people like her get their dogs from pet stores and breeders on a whim. They don't want damaged rescue dogs. They haven't sat down with their family to determine if they have the emotional and financial means to properly care for a dog or what type of dog suits their lifestyle. Many of these dogs end up in shelters once the owners realize that being a dog owner is a lot of work. These are the dogs that I adopt. The dogs that have been abandoned or abused by the only family they have ever known, or worse yet, the dogs that have never known a family.

While I think private rescue organizations are great, those dogs are generally not at risk for being euthanized to make space for additional dogs. There is never a shortage of pure bred dogs at the shelters. Even if you have your heart set on a specific breed you should always check with your local rescue groups to see what dogs they have. Unfortunately my favorite breed of dog, the German Shepherd, is always well represented at shelters and I don't anticipate ever having a problem finding one at my local ASPCA. But if there were no German Shepherd dogs or mixes available within a couple hours of my house I would adopt another breed of dog. I cannot imagine any situation where I would turn to a breeder or pet store to get my dogs.

I don't have time to read or write as much as I'd like. Sometimes I make excuses for not working out or pick up dinner because I don't have time to prepare a meal. I don't have the time or the patience to have children or to keep in touch with all my friends and relatives regularly. But I always make time for my pets. Like brushing my teeth, going to the bathroom and eating, they are just part of my regular routine. I chose to adopt pets. After that I am obligated to everything related to their care.


  1. I feel sorry for the dogs that are permanently imprisoned in their back yards (or basement?). Dogs need to be walked. They need to be socialized. They should be taken to the park. They should be allowed to run around. Anyone who buys a dog just to imprison in a small backyard or chain to a tire should be sent to I-suck rehab.

  2. Seriously, I am always tempted to leave a note in someone's mailbox telling them what a horrible dog owner they are but I know it probably won't change anything.