Dogs live in the present – they just are! Dogs make the best of each moment uncluttered by the sorts of complex fears and feelings that we humans have. They don’t judge, they simply take the world around them at face value. Yet they have been part of man’s world for an unimaginable time, at least 30,000 years. That makes the domesticated dog the longest animal companion to man, by far!
As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer. Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming, thence the long journey to modern man. But in the last, say 100 years, that farming spirit has become corrupted to the point where we see the planet’s plant and mineral resources as infinite. Mankind is close to the edge of extinction, literally and spiritually.
Dogs know better, much better! Time again for man to learn from dogs!
I am far from certain but I have this notion in my head that ‘Common Land’ is an English thing. Here’s a Wikipedia extract:
Common land is land owned collectively by a number of persons, or by one person, but over which other people have certain traditional rights, such as to allow their livestock to graze upon it, to collect firewood, or to cut turf for fuel.
A person who has a right in, or over, common land jointly with another or others is called a commoner.
This article deals mainly with common land in England, Wales and Scotland. Although the extent is much reduced due to enclosure of common land from the millions of acres that existed until the 17th century, a considerable amount of common land still exists, particularly in upland areas, and there are over 7,000 registered commons in England alone.
Despite the idea of common land having an English ‘ring’ to it common land is also found in the USA. Back to that Wikipedia reference:
Common land, an English development, was used in many former British colonies, for example in Ireland and the United States. The North American colonies adopted the English laws in establishing their own commons. A famous example is the New Haven Green in New Haven, Connecticut.
When I was living in Devon it was not unusual to take a walk with Pharaoh on some very famous open access land: Dartmoor.
So where the devil am I going with today’s post?
Last Thursday week, the 12th, I published my review of George Monbiot’s valuable book Out Of The Wreckage.
This book struck me as the most important book I have ever read in my lifetime. Why? Because it gets to the heart of what is happening today. But it offers even more than that. For instead of a shrug of the shoulders or eyes turned skywards from a friend when one mutters about the fact that we are living in ‘interesting times’, George Monbiot offers hope and guidance.
The day after I published my review George Monbiot published an article in The Guardian newspaper that threw more light on the commons philosophy and why, as in his book, he “offers hope and guidance”.
It is republished here with Mr. Monbiot’s generous permission. Yes, the focus is on British politics but GM’s core message applies equally to the USA and other countries.
13th October 2017
We should use the political space being opened by the Labour resurgence to develop a new, participatory economy
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 11th October 2017
We are still living in the long 20th Century. We are stuck with its redundant technologies: the internal combustion engine; thermal power plants; factory farms. We are stuck with its redundant politics: unfair electoral systems; their capture by funders and lobbyists; the failure to temper representation with real participation.
And we are stuck with its redundant economics: neoliberalism, and the Keynesianism still proposed by its opponents. While the latter system worked very well for 30 years or more, it is hard to see how it can take us through this century, not least because the growth it seeks to sustain smacks headlong into the environmental crisis.
Sustained economic growth on a planet that is not growing means crashing through environmental limits: this is what we are witnessing, worldwide, today. A recent paper in Nature puts our current chances of keeping global heating to less than 1.5°C of at just 1%, and less than 2° at only 5%. Why? Because while the carbon intensity of economic activity is expected to decline by 1.9% a year, global per capita GDP is expected to grow by 1.8%. Almost all investment in renewables and efficiency is cancelled out. GDP, the index that was supposed to measure our prosperity, instead measures our progress towards ruin.
But the great rupture that began in 2008 offers a chance to change all this. The challenge now is to ensure that the new political movements threatening established power in Britain and elsewhere create the space not for old ideas (such as 20th Century Keynesianism) but for a new politics, built on new economic and social foundations.
There may be a case for one last hurrah for the old model: a technological shift that resembles the Second World War’s military Keynesianism. In 1941, the US turned the entire civilian economy around on a dime: within months, car manufacturers were producing planes, tanks and ammunition. A determined government could do something similar in response to climate breakdown: a sudden transformation, replacing our fossil economy. But having effected such a conversion, it should, I believe, then begin the switch to a different economic model.
The new approach could start with the idea of private sufficiency and public luxury. There is not enough physical or environmental space for everyone to enjoy private luxury: if everyone in London acquired a tennis court, a swimming pool, a garden and a private art collection, the city would cover England. Private luxury shuts down space, creating deprivation. But magnificent public amenities – wonderful parks and playgrounds, public sports centres and swimming pools, galleries, allotments and public transport networks – create more space for everyone, at a fraction of the cost.
Wherever possible, I believe such assets should be owned and managed by neither state nor market, but by communities, in the form of commons. A commons in its true form is a non-capitalist system, in which a resource is controlled in perpetuity by a community, for the shared and equal benefit of its members. A possible model is the commons transition plan commissioned by the Flemish city of Ghent.
Land value taxation also has transformative potential. It can keep the income currently siphoned out of our pockets in the form of rent – then out of the country and into tax havens – within our hands. It can reduce land values, bringing down house prices. While local and national government should use some of the money to fund public services, the residue can be returned to communities.
Couple this with a community right to buy, enabling communities to use this money to acquire their own land, with local commons trusts that possess powers to assemble building sites, and with a new right for prospective buyers and tenants to plan their own estates, and exciting things begin to happen. This could be a formula for meeting housing need, delivering public luxury and greatly enhancing the sense of community, self-reliance and taking back control. It helps to create what I call the Politics of Belonging.
But it doesn’t stop there. The rents accruing to commons trusts could be used to create a local version of the citizens’ wealth funds (modelled on the sovereign wealth funds in Alaska and Norway) proposed by Angela Cummine and Stewart Lansley. The gain from such funds could be distributed in the form of a local basic income.
And the money the government still invests? To the greatest extent possible, I believe it should be controlled by participatory budgeting. In the Brazilian city of Porto Allegre, the infrastructure budget is allocated by the people: around 50,000 citizens typically participate. The results – better water, sanitation, health, schools and nurseries – have been so spectacular that large numbers of people now lobby the city council to raise their taxes. When you control the budget, you can see the point of public investment.
In countries like the UK, we could not only adopt this model, but extend it beyond the local infrastructure budget to other forms of local and even national spending. The principle of subsidiarity – devolving powers to the smallest political unit that can reasonably discharge them – makes such wider democratic control more feasible.
All this would be framed within a system such as Kate Raworth’s doughnut economics which, instead of seeking to maximise growth, sets a lower bound of wellbeing below which no one should fall, and an upper bound of environmental limits, that economic life should not transgress. A participatory economics could be accompanied by participatory politics, involving radical devolution and a fine-grained democratic control over the decisions affecting our lives – but I will leave that for another column.
Who could lead this global shift? It could be the UK Labour Party. It is actively seeking new ideas. It knows that the bigger the change it offers, the greater the commitment of the volunteers on which its insurgency relies: the Big Organising model that transformed Labour’s fortunes at the last election requires a big political offer. (This is why Ed Miliband’s attempts to create a grassroots uprising failed).
Could Labour be the party that brings the long 20th Century to an end? I believe, despite its Keynesian heritage, it could. Now, more than at any other time in the past few decades, it has a chance to change the world.
But sometime during that panicked retreat from the house on Wikiup Bridge Way, the family dog, Izzy, bolted away.
Trying to find her amid the chaos of fire proved too dangerous.
And so this family, like countless others in California’s wine country, left more than just their home behind. When they drove through sheer walls of flame and across an uncertain wooden bridge to get to safety — they left their hearts back on Wikiup Bridge Way.
It turned out, it was the one thing they couldn’t leave behind.
A day and a half later, while the area was still smoldering and roads were still closed, Jack Weaver and Patrick Widen made the nearly-three-mile trek back to the house.
“It was incredibly important,” Weaver, who grew up in that house, tells MNN. “My mother was a wreck for having gone through that. Nobody wanted us to go back because they were worried we would get injured.”
‘I can see …’
In a video of their return, posted on Facebook and shared below, you can hear the men laboring to catch their breath amid blackened trees and still-crackling ruins.
“Izzy!” Weaver is heard calling into the smoky veil. Over and over again.
They push farther and farther ahead. “Izzy!”
“Almost to the house,” Weaver says in the video. “I can see … the gate. The gate’s still standing.”
A moment later, he adds, “I don’t see the house at all. F$#k.”
It had burned to the ground.
But someone was still standing.
“Izzy’s here!” Weaver calls, his voice choked with emotion. “Izzy!”
“Oh my God! Come here, baby!”
The giant dog bounces into view, her tail whirring like a helicopter.
“When she same running around — you can probably hear it in my voice — we were shocked and ecstatic,” Weaver says later. “I wish I could have filmed longer, the happy reunion, but I was so happy I dropped my phone.”
Since the family posted the video, it’s been shared more than 4,000 times. Maybe it’s a testament to the need for all of us to find a happy ending amid heartache.
In any case, Izzy is where she belongs now — in the arms of her family — a testament to faith under fire.
“She didn’t have a burn on her,” Weaver says. “It definitely lifted my family’s spirits.”
YouTube also carried a video:
Well done, Izzy, and Jean and I send you fondest hugs!
Towards the end of September in came an email addressed to learningfromdogs.
Pete here from The Goody Pet.
Firstly – A big thank you for writing all those amazing articles on dogs. Been sharing these articles with my friends and they really enjoyed reading them. Was wondering if I could contribute a guest post for your website? I have been a dog owner for the past 15 years and would love to share some of my tips to your readers.
If you are interested, please let me know? I will be more than happy to prepare a few topics to send across to you.
Goes without saying that I was delighted to receive Pete’s email and his offer of an article. Here it is!
DOGS: A LESSON IN LOYALTY
by Pete Decker, October 8th, 2017
Dog is a man’s best friend, this is something we have said and heard enough number of times. They can be better friends that any human can ever be, this is a fact that almost all dog owners can surely vouch for.
A dog’s loyalty has been seen and heard of in many famous incidents as well as stories like Hawkeye, the dog who grieved the death of his Navy SEAL owner by lying down near his casket day in and out. Or the story of Hachiko, the dog who greeted his owner at the train station every day and continued to look for his owner at the same place daily even after the sudden death of the owner.
What makes dogs so loyal?
There have been some people who say that they depend on humans for food and shelter and so have to be loyal without a choice. But when you see the dog of a street dweller loving him unconditionally or when you see the reaction of a dog after meeting his master who has been away for a long time, you know it’s not just about food and shelter.
They are colonial creatures who like to live together, whether it is a colony of humans, dogs or even other animals. They just want to love and be loved back.
Dogs are not like human beings, they are much better. They do not cheat or betray. They only need one master and that is enough for them to live happily. Unknowingly, dogs teach us many important lessons that help us be better and more loyal people. Let us consider some of them:
They teach you never to betray
Your closest human friend or companion may betray you when the time comes, but a dog never ever will. If needed he will lay his life for you, but betraying is out of question. A human being is capable of telling lies, manipulating, or twisting facts, a dog is not capable of any of that.
A dog can never lie
No matter how close you are to a person, they still may not tell you everything or all the truth. As humans, we think withholding information is not considered lying and do that all the time. But a dog can never lie, he doesn’t even know how to. There is no pretense or withholding information with a dog. For a dog the world is only about you. And it only has ways to show you how much it loves you, nothing more.
They teach you never to judge
Your dog does not care whether you are rich or poor, whether you are ugly or beautiful. It does not even care if you are thin, fat, or what nationality you belong to. A dog will not judge if you have failed at anything, or hold prejudices against you. With a dog you can never be scared of being ridiculed or humiliated. As long you it is with you, you mean the world to him, and he will never leave you no matter what.
Forgiving is another lesson they teach us
A dog is not capable of holding grudges, or being revengeful. These qualities are for us humans. Even if you hurt your dog knowing or unknowingly they will still forgive you at all times. They will not hold your mistakes against you. They will forget your flaws and love you as it always did.
Love is beyond everything
This is one thing that differentiates a human from a dog. Your best friend of one time may not be the same anymore, but a dog will be your best friend as long as you live. They will be by your side at all times, through thick or thin.
These are some important lessons of loyalty that a dog teaches us. If only we humans imbibe even a part of their qualities, the world will be a much happier place to live in.
That closing photograph, that was also supplied by Pete, says it all.
Naturally, I asked Pete to offer a little background information on his goodself and this is what he wrote me:
The author of this post is Pete Decker, the Lead Editor at The Goody Pet. Pete loves to share his passion for pets through snippets of interesting and helpful information. You can find more of Pete at his website, Twitter or Facebook.
Well during the last week I was referred by my local doctor to see a urologist in connection with a query regarding my ‘back end’. Dr. N, the urologist pointed out that the human body, especially the brain, places such demands on ensuring that water is readily available (non-scientific description!) that it will ‘steal’ water from the bowel. Ergo, when I do my bike rides in the morning I was told to drink the water that I carry with me but previously have not been consuming. For even my hour’s ride three times a week will cause sufficient perspiration that other parts of my body will remove water from my bowel.
Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on June 14, 2015. Enjoy!
Water makes up around 80 percent of a dog’s body. It’s essential for optimum health — for both humans and pets — but how much is enough for our pets? And is there such thing as too much water?
Looking after an animal is a major responsibility, since they depend on humans for their needs. We tend to assume that as long as we provide our dogs with a water bowl, they will drink the necessary amount, but unfortunately this is not always true.
Some dogs are under-hydrated, while others may drink too much. Here’s what every pet owner should know about hydration.
Water’s Vital Role in the Body
Water is the basis of life, as it hydrates, nourishes and cleanses the body. While your dog can survive for a long time without food, insufficient water consumption can seriously damage the body. In a relatively short period of time, just a 10 percent drop in hydration can be fatal.
From mental alertness and ease of breathing, to optimum digestion and bowel movements, every metabolic process in a dog’s body will be affected by its level of hydration.
Blood flow pumps oxygen through the body and removes toxins, but poor hydration can lead to a buildup of toxins in the muscles and organs, causing a huge array of health issues. Dogs regulate their heat by panting, and this heavy breath causes a lot of moisture to leave the body — especially on hot days or while exercising.
Lack of water can result in dehydration, organ failure and kidney stones or other urinary tract problems, but apart from these direct health issues, insufficient water intake can be an indicator of existing problems.
Water Consumption Can Be a Health Indicator
Dogs who are not drinking enough water or who have an insatiable thirst could be displaying signs of more serious health problems — and that’s why it’s essential to keep a close eye on their drinking habits.
Dogs with illnesses such as parvovirus, pancreatitis and leptospirois — as well as many others — do not tend to drink much water, so if you notice that your dog is barely drinking anything, it may be worth taking them for a check-up. On the flip side, dogs with bladder infections, diabetes and Cushing’s disease — among others — are often extremely thirsty and can be observed drinking excessive amounts of water.
While it’s important to monitor how much your dog is drinking, remember to keep things in perspective with their other behaviors, temperature conditions and so on, so that you don’t become overly concerned every time your dog has a big drink of water!
So How Much Water Does Your Dog Need?
A dog’s water needs vary from breed to breed, and they also depend on size, age, diet, activity level and environmental conditions.
Your dog’s diet will play a big role in the amount of water that it needs to consume. For instance, dogs who solely eat dry biscuits or kibble will get significantly less hydration from their food than those on moisture-rich diets.
During the hot weather, if your dog is very thirsty after a long walk or play session, it’s a good idea to let him or her rehydrate over an extended period of time, rather than letting the dog guzzle down too much water at once.
If your dog finishes all the water in its bowl, wait for half an hour before refilling it, so that your pup has time to rest and digest. You can also help keep dogs hydrated during exercise by giving them access to water — little and often is best.
To test whether your dog may be dehydrated, you can lift the skin on the back of the neck and watch to see how quickly it returns to its normal position. If it forms a sort of tent, and doesn’t fall back into place immediately, then your dog may be dehydrated.
Nobody knows your dog better than you, and by keeping a close eye on your dog’s behavior you can tell if he or she is happy and healthy — or showing signs of dehydration or illness. Regularly monitoring water intake should become a habit, as it can tell you a lot about your dog’s health and wellness.
(Please note that I am letting this post run until Sunday, 15th Oct.)
For many years I have both read George Monbiot’s writings, especially those published by The Guardian newspaper, and deeply respected his insight, intelligence and analysis of the world in which we now live.
So when I heard of his latest book, published by Verso Books both sides of the ‘pond’, it was ordered immediately. It was a book I badly wanted to read. I was not disappointed.
So what is Mr. Monbiot’s message?
To answer that question let me lean on a forthcoming talk being given by him in Edinburgh in eight days time. For he is speaking at a Scottish Green Party event on October 20th.
Here’s the thrust of what is to be covered at that meeting:
What does the good life—and the good society—look like in the twenty-first century?
A toxic ideology rules the world – of extreme competition and individualism. It misrepresents human nature, destroying hope and common purpose. Only a positive vision can replace it, a new story that re-engages people in politics and lights a path to a better world.
Join us for an evening of discussion with George Monbiot as he talks about his new book: ‘Out of the wreckage: a new politics in an age of crisis‘. New findings in psychology, neuroscience and evolutionary biology cast human nature in a radically different light: as the supreme altruists and cooperators. George argues that we can build on these findings to create a new politics: a ‘politics of belonging’.
So what does this mean for social and environmental justice campaigning in Edinburgh? How do we create a politics of belongings here in Scotland? There will be plenty of opportunity for George Monbiot and the audience to share their insights.
Doors open: 6pm
George Monbiot will speak from 7-7.30pm and there will then be a Q&A, plus a chance buy books, mingle and browse stalls.
This event is jointly hosted by Global Justice Now and the Scottish Green party.
To my mind, this book not only addresses, full on, the madness (my word) of these present times but also offers strong, positive recommendations as to how we, as in the societies of all the major nations, can turn it around and offer a decent future for future generations. That’s why I am so strongly recommending it.
For George Monbiot, neoliberalism should best be understood as a “story”, one that was conveniently on offer at precisely the moment when the previous “story” – namely Keynesianism – fell to pieces in the mid-1970s. The power of stories is overwhelming, as they are “the means by which we navigate the world. They allow us to interpret its complex and contradictory signals”. The particular story of neoliberalism “defines us as competitors, guided above all other impulses by the urge to get ahead of our fellows”.
It should be said at once that we are desperately in need of new ideas for a society and a democracy where trust in all established institutions is at a record low and even a Tory prime minister admits the country doesn’t work for everyone. Monbiot’s ideas are clear, well-reasoned and sometimes compelling. Many will mock his attempt at a “story of hope and restoration”; even some of his Guardian colleagues call him “George Moonshine”. Human beings, his critics will say, are inherently selfish and self-maximising. Give them the opportunity to freeload off others’ efforts and they will take it.
Such objections are easily dismissed. Yes, there’s a self-interested streak in all of us but, as Monbiot observes, we also have instincts for co-operation and sensitivity to others’ needs. Think of the hundreds who volunteer to run food banks and of the thousands more who donate to them. Think of those Europeans who, at great risk to themselves, sheltered Jews from the Nazis during the Second World War. The altruistic instinct can be kindled in almost anybody. It is suppressed, however, in a society that rewards the selfish but penalises – and brands as “mugs” – those who are more mindful of our needs, and the planet’s. That society has led to loneliness, high levels of mental illness and increasingly discordant political discourse. Shouldn’t we at least try developing a society that does more to nurture the better angels of our nature?
Better still, settle down with a cup of tea, put your feet up for fifteen minutes and listen to this:
This book struck me as the most important book I have ever read in my lifetime. Why? Because it gets to the heart of what is happening today. But it offers even more than that. For instead of a shrug of the shoulders or eyes turned skywards from a friend when one mutters about the fact that we are living in ‘interesting times’, George Monbiot offers hope and guidance.
Take the very last two paragraphs from the final chapter of his book.
Coming Home to Ourselves
Through restoring community, renewing civic life and claiming our place in the world, we build a society in which our extraordinary nature – our altruism, empathy and deep connection – is released.
When we emerge from the age of loneliness and alienation, from an obsession with competition and extreme individualism, from the worship of image and celebrity and power and wealth, we will find a person waiting for us. It is a person better than we might have imagined, whose real character has been suppressed. It is one who lives inside us, who has been there all along.
“- our altruism, empathy and deep connection -”
I see these persons every day of my life. Via the pages of this blog.
Yes, I am referring to all of you who wander in and out of this place, who demonstrate your compassion, your love and your dedication to the dogs and all the other animals of this world.
Not that long ago I received an email out-of-the-blue from Linley Achtenhagen. Linley wanted to tell me, and all of you, what having a dog had meant to her.
How It All Started
by Linley Achtenhagen
Before I start talking about all of the things I have learned from having a dog, I should probably tell the story of how this crazy journey started.
My sophomore year of college was probably one of the most difficult years I’ve had. I was struggling with anxiety issues and I had just quit basketball, which was the hardest decision I’ve ever made. Why? Well, I had been playing basketball from the time I could walk and the day that I decided I was done was a very difficult, yet relieving day.
Me playing basketball had become unhealthy for me and caused me so much stress and anxiety that it was hurting me more than it was helping me, but that’s a different story.
Anyways, once I was done playing college basketball I felt relieved, but also empty. All I had really ever known was basketball, so now I felt like I wasn’t doing anything with my life other than going to school and studying things that I didn’t care about. I knew that something was missing!
I have always been an animal lover. Growing up we had everything from cats, to dogs, to horses and even a pet bird. Dogs were my favorite though (sorry cat lovers) and I thought, “why not see if there’s a dog that needs a home”.
So I went online and of course, I found, literally, thousands of dogs that needed homes. After months of searching and convincing my parents that I could do this, I adopted Luna.
Luna came from a high-kill shelter in Missouri, meaning that if she wasn’t adopted in a certain time frame she was going to be put to sleep. Lucky for me, Tiny Paws Small Dog Rescue in Milwaukee, Wi transported her and about 10 other dogs from the shelter up to Wisconsin.
Luna was about 15 pounds underweight and for a 40-pound dog that’s dangerously skinny. When I would pet her I could feel every single bone on her body. She was skinny, shy, and had patches of fur missing, yet the trust this animal gave me right from the start was amazing. This animal had gone through only God knows what, and trusted me immediately. It was an eye-opening thing to watch.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say that it was all butterflies and rainbows when I adopted Luna. The first few days I was panicked and thought, “what on earth did I get myself into”. But I knew that I had made a commitment to this dog and I couldn’t give her away. I have always hated change, in fact, it is one of the things that gives me pretty bad anxiety, and I knew that giving Luna back would be the easy way out. Sure enough, in about a week, this dog became my best friend and it’s like we had a mutual understanding that we were in this together.
Since getting Luna I went from not knowing what I wanted to do with my life to declaring my major as entrepreneurship and knowing that one day I want to open my own pet supply store.
I want to share all of the knowledge that I have gained about dogs from having Luna with other pet and dog lovers. I have found that big, franchise pet stores just don’t have the same knowledge that small, local pet stores do. I am also not saying that I know everything there is to know about dogs because I still learn new things every single day. But I want to share everything I have learned with dog owners and help them give their pet the best life possible. I also hope to learn new things from all the people that (hopefully) come in and out of my store every day.
In the posts to come, I will share everything I have learned about life, love, animals, and everything in between from my life with Luna.
If only all decisions in life were as easy as me wanting to publish Linley’s account of her meeting Luna!
All we now need is a photograph of the happy couple!
A plea to choose a shelter dog before other sources!
Of the six dogs that we have here at home only one, Cleo, came to us from a breeder. That was because we specifically wanted a GSD puppy to be a playmate for Pharaoh as he was getting into his final years.
The other five are all dogs that we took from rescue shelters or, in the case of Brandy, from a couple that couldn’t handle such a big dog despite him being the most placid and loving dog one could ever come across.
The Care2 blogsite recently published an article that hammered home the reasons why everyone should (nay, must!) consider a shelter dog first.
Please read and share this. For the sake of those thousands of dogs that never have the joy of loving owners in their lives.
6 Common Myths About Shelter Animals (and the Truth About Them)
Adopting a dog doesn’t mean you’re inheriting someone else’s problem. Learn the truth and some common myths about shelter animals.
It’s a sad fact that each year approximately 670,000 dogs are euthanized in animal shelters across the United States. It happens because too many dogs enter the shelter and too few people consider adoption when it comes to getting a new pet. Many buy into one of the most common myths that when you adopt a dog from a shelter you are inheriting someone else’s problem.
The truth is that shelters and rescues are brimming with happy, healthy pets just waiting for someone to take them home. Most shelter pets are surrendered because of a human problem like a move or a divorce, not because the animals did anything wrong. Many are already housetrained and used to living with families.
“When you adopt a shelter dog you are most likely bringing home a dog who has good manners, is leash trained and knows some commands,” said Ellen Ribitzki, kennel manager for the Bloomingdale Regional Animal Shelter Society (B.A.S.S.) in New Jersey. “In addition, shelter dogs are temperament tested so adopters will have an idea of a pet’s personality―whether he/she gets along with other dogs or with cats and young children.”
In late August the Herrera family visited B.A.S.S. to find a companion for their rescue dog, Charlie. The family had just lost their beloved Roxy, a 12-year-old boxer, and all of them―including Charlie―were mourning the loss.
“We started visiting our local shelters because we know what love rescue dogs can give,” Robin Herrera said. “We knew that we didn’t want a puppy but we were looking for a dog young enough to be playful. We also knew that Charlie had to approve of the new dog.”
At B.A.S.S. they fell in love with Sophia, an 18-month-old German shorthair pointer mix, an energetic fun-loving and playful dog. Luckily Charlie approved and Sophia is now a much-loved addition to the family.
“Sophia and Charlie are constantly hunting for chipmunks in our yard,” Herrera said. “They love long walks together and enjoy snuggling with us at night.”
Ribitzki said that dogs are rarely returned to B.A.S.S., and when it does happens it’s because of health or life changes―for example, allergies or a job change―and not behavioral issues.
“The majority of dogs and cats are surrendered to B.A.S.S. by heartbroken owners in tears because they can no longer care for their beloved pet,” Ribitzki said. “Unfortunately, with the recent catastrophic hurricanes, there will be a lot more animals impacted and more demands on rescues and shelters.”
October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and a perfect time to help dogs in shelters across the country find loving forever homes. If you’re thinking of adding a dog to the family, please consider adopting your next animal companion.
6 Common Myths about Shelter Animals
Myth #1: Dogs only end up in shelters because they have behavior problems or are sick.
Truth: Some dogs do end up in shelters and rescue groups because their owners can’t handle their perceived behavior problems (which may be as easy to fix as an older puppy reluctant to housebreaking), but most of them end up in shelters because of a combination of these reasons:
They were strays―either they never had a home or they ran away and their owners didn’t reclaim them.
The owner moved and couldn’t take his/her pet along.
Owners were too busy to take care of their pets, or couldn’t afford to due to job loss or medical emergencies.
Owners didn’t know how to train their pet to behave appropriately.
Owners got rid of their pet when their baby was born.
Owner or family members developed allergies to the pet.
The pet required a medical procedure that the owner couldn’t afford.
Owners and their family simply lost interest in the pet, this is especially true for older puppies.
Myth #2: You never know what you’re getting with a shelter or rescue pet.
Truth: When you deal with a reputable shelter or rescue group that gets all vetting done―spay/neuter, vaccinations, deworming and heartworm preventative―and temperament tests all of their adoptable pets, you do know what you’re getting!
Myth #3: You have to start the bonding process when your pet is a baby.
Truth: Rescued pets are often noted as being “grateful” for their new lease on life. Forming a bond with an animal whose life you saved comes naturally for most people. Dogs become attached to the people who take care of their basic needs, no matter when those people came into their lives.
Myth #4: Shelter animals are not as clean as pet store animals.
Truth: Not only is this untrue, but the conditions of many breeding facilities or puppy mills (which supply pet stores that sell dogs) are nothing short of horrific. Puppies born in puppy mills are usually removed from their mothers at just 6 weeks old and are housed in overcrowded and unsanitary wire-floored cages, without adequate veterinary care, food or water.
Myth #5: Adopting big or very strong dogs is a bad idea if you have little children.
Truth: There’s no evidence that big dogs are more likely than small dogs to harm children. A dog’s behavior is a function of many factors including breeding, socialization, training, environment and treatment by owners.
Myth #6: Getting animals from breeders is safer because the breeders know the animal’s bloodline and family history.
Truth: As a result of their breeding, purebred dogs very often have genetic disorders and medical issue predispositions, certainly no less often than shelter dogs. Also, while bloodlines and histories are useful tools to assess an animal’s value, they are limited in terms of predicting behavior. On the other hand, shelters are motivated to save lives and make strong matches. Some use science and sophisticated tools to appropriately pair up animals and owners and are happy to share everything they know about each animal.
Did you notice that link on the very last line of this article, the one regarding The Humane Society offering the reasons why everyone should adopt? If that link was followed then one would read the most important reason to adopt a pet (my emphasis):
Because you’ll save a life.
Each year, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized in the United States, simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet.
The number of euthanized animals could be reduced dramatically if more people adopted pets instead of buying them. When you adopt, you save a loving animal by making them part of your family and open up shelter space for another animal who might desperately need it.