Tails: Rescue is bringing them home, not just saving them

I am in awe of the response to my last blog about making the priority getting dogs back home and not adopted to new families.  I have heard that I “turned on a lot of lightbulbs.”  I am happy that I could be inspiring, but it saddens me at the same time.

When I was 8 years old, I found my first stray dog.  He was a shaggy, tan mutt and he wandered into our garage.  It was a rainy day and all I could think about was where did he come from and that he must live somewhere nearby.  I grabbed a leash and spent the next 3 hours walking the streets until I found his home.  I can still remember the lady smiling when I knocked on her door and the way his tail wagged when she called his name.  I was hooked.  Rescuing dogs was in my blood.

I feel like, perhaps, we have forgotten along the often painful road what rescue really is.  I feel like we have become hardened souls, so cynical of the human race and how they treat man’s best friend.  We see things so few people see.  So much abuse and neglect.

We fight so hard to protect animals from human beings that I think we have overlooked one really important thing: most people who own dogs love them.  No, maybe they don’t love them like WE do, but they love them nonetheless.

We are a select group of people.  The love we feel for dogs and animals is something few people understand.  I am sure we have all tried to express our passion to friends and family, but they look at us confused and unable to share such devotion.  This doesn’t make them bad people nor does it make us crazy.

I do believe that between the horror we see each day and the unbridled passion we have for animal welfare our expectations for animal care has become a bit out of control.  We want picture perfect homes for each dog we place and sometimes picture perfect is…well, ridiculous.

I think that is why we have been so quick to “save” dogs from shelters and adopt them into new homes, homes we have “assumed” will be much better than the homes they left.  As I mentioned in the earlier blog, I think we make too many poor assumptions about the care the lost dog was receiving, that we fail to acknowledge the vital relationship between the lost dog and his family who, more than likely, loves him and is devastated.

When I was 8 years old, I didn’t know all the tragic things I know today.  I didn’t know about puppy-mills or dog fighting.  I had never seen a dog beaten or abandoned.  It was easy at 8 years old to only assume that the dog had a GOOD home and just wandered off on his own.  At 8 years old, I thought nothing bad of the home he had.  I only knew that I loved my dog and that that dog must have someone who loves him, too.  At 8 years old, the only solution was to find that dog’s home.

I think we all need to be 8 again.  I think we all need to re-train our hearts and minds to believe in the good of people again.  We need to trust that people do love their animals.  We need to believe that dogs don’t fall from the sky and that rescue means bringing them home not just saving them.

 

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