There’s a whole lot of age discrimination going on.
If you’re looking for a job and are of a certain age, you know how tough it can be. Some think just because your looks have faded that your brain cells have as well.
Adult dogs and cats waiting for new homes in shelters have the same rejection problem. That’s sad, because for a lot of pet-seekers, a grownup pet would be the smartest choice, especially for busy, working families or singles. All my dogs but one came to me as adults; all were a breeze to house train and integrate into family life.
Several weeks ago, Matt, a young, single coworker, told me he was ready to get a dog—his first. As we talked, I suggested he adopt a young, adult dog from a shelter, one already house trained. Since Matt lives alone, worksd erratic hours and never had a dog, I really felt a puppy would be too much for him because of the extra time, work and attention puppies need.
Matt hesitated, and then said he wasn’t crazy about the idea of adopting from a shelter. He thought something must be “wrong” with the pets, or why else would they be there?
THAT sentiment got my blood boiling, because it’s a common, though totally false notion. Having worked with shelters for years, I can tell you the real problem lies not with the pets, but with those who get pets before thinking it through or for all the wrong reasons.
For example, a couch potato will get a border collie, and then complain because the dog has a lot of energy. Or a parent will buy a puppy or kitten simply because their kids want one. They don’t bother to train the pet—or the kids, who treat the animal like a toy. Understandably, the puppy nips, the cat scratches, but instead of looking in a mirror, they blame the pet, haul it off to a shelter, or worse yet, drop it off on a country road.
Imagine if kid was never taught how to use a toilet, eat with utensils or behave in public? We’ve all had the “pleasure” of meeting the latter in restaurants or stores, but we don’t blame the kids—we rightly blame the parents.
Others rid themselves of pets simply because they move. No one should get a pet unless they’re willing to move it.
So I gave Matt THE SPEECH about cat, dogs, shelters, puppies and kittens. But he had his heart set on a puppy. I warned him, “Don’t come to me in six months and ask me to find it a new home!”
Matt first responded to an ad for a free puppy, which forced me to give him my OTHER SPEECH about backyard breeders for bucks vs. professional breeders, as well as the problems created by those who don’t spay and neuter.
Matt got his puppy despite my motherly interference, and I’m happy to report he adopted her from a shelter, Precious Friends. Charlie, a female Pyrenees mix, is adorable, but like all puppies, has accidents, cries and chews.
Matt is doing what everyone who brings home a pet should do: He thought about it, planned for it and did it for the right reasons. He owns his own home, has a fenced yard and made Charlie a house dog. Matt also read a book on raising a puppy, is crate training and plans on obedience classes. He also asks me questions sometimes, as I’m much older, much wiser and not shy about sharing my opinions—especially when it comes to pets.
I think Matt and Charlie will have a long and happy life together, because Matt knows to be afraid of me—very afraid—if he doesn’t live up to his responsibility where pretty little Charlie is concerned.
posted by Sandy at 3/28/2007 08:18:00 AM