Are we teaching our children that life is replaceable

I receive emails and read posts daily for pets needing new homes, and there are a lot of them. As training and behavior professionals the calls we get can be overwhelming. For myself, it's the calls where people start describing all of the negative or dangerous behaviors their dog is displaying, followed by comments of "I have tried everything and nothing works". "I love him but he needs a new home". "I don't want to take him to the shelter.". These are calls of owners who have gievn up or had no idea what was in store. Some have not done any research prior to getting a dog; others did everything right and still ended up with a mismatch.

The ones I find the hardest to stomach though are the owners who say they have done everything and then list the 3 or 4 things they knew how to do from a facebook post, pet store, or friend. But not once did they hire a professional. They got the dog its minimal health care spay/neuter, chip, vaccines to be compliant with regulations. However, they never hired a training or behavior professional to help guide and support them. No, I do not mean your corporate big box store of trainers who receive a 3 to 6-week training on how to be a dog trainer. I mean a credentialed, experienced professional.

Maybe it wasn't in the budget, or perhaps they didn't know. But here are dogs on their 2nd + home or leaving the only family they have ever known through no fault of their own. But then I run across someone who says "They never wanted the dog...are dropping him off at a shelter where he can never find his way back...they have kids and are getting rid of him before they lose it because no one wants that." The worst part is being serious about the words you chose.

Being in charge of a pet or a child can be stressful but just like how you are in charge of teaching your children about life, how to behave, what to do and what not to do. Just as how you are required to provide health care for your child and a good parent does just that, you have to do the same for your pets.

Now hear me out. Once upon a time my other half, bless his heart, adopted a dog I vehemently refused to allow into the family. I knew this dog, so I knew the amount of work it was going to take to fix his behavior issues, manage him, and get him to where he needed to be. So naturally, he completely ignored me, and this behavior deficit dog named Chopper joined the family.

We were Choppers 3rd home. He had a lovely upbringing and then his 2nd home mostly beat him, starved him, and isolated him. But since he was a part of the family, it was my responsibility to do what needed to be done and teach my children about responsibility at the same time.

When you choose to give a dog away, the dog doesn't understand they were terrible, pr what they did wrong, or where you went. Dogs know you are absent, and they are in an unfamiliar environment. The worst part is the message that is sent to the children of those families. That lives are disposable. That pets are fun until they require work and that it is okay to put your problem onto someone else. Teaching children that they don't need to be responsible for their choices, their lives, or the lives they are charged with.

Just as parenting requires a physical, emotional, and financial investment; so does being a responsible pet parent. It means working through problems. Researching to choose the right credentialed professional for help when you need it, and realizing when it isn't a good fit and how to properly going about finding the best placement for the dog. It means not ignoring the behaviors when they start and allowing them to get worse. It means doing what is right for the dog and your family and providing the time to do what needs to be done.

Animals are not disposable creatures that lack cognition or emotion. They are complex, intelligent creatures deserving of respect and our responsibility when we choose to bring them into our homes. Our children also deserve us teaching them to be the best people they possibly can for future generations.

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