This is the kind of letter I receive every so often, maybe about once every two weeks, with someone asking how they can they give up their dog to our senior dog sanctuary.
I’d like you to read this snippet of it then I will tell you why it upsets me so, so much.
I've obviously had to chop it and blank out a few chunks of it so that you don’t recognize who sent it to me, although I’d dearly love to reveal the identity of this woman.
What’s the thing that pisses me off? That this woman is a wife and a mother.
She’s also a church goer and someone who plasters her Facebook page with ‘nurturing’ slogans and mentions mission trips she’s going on to raise funds for this or that..... while at home, her poor senior dog gets overlooked because he doesn't fit into her meticulously clean, pristine lifestyle.
The precious soul that she committed to love for ever when she adopted him into her life and family as a tiny pup, now is just an annoyance who violates her far more precious clean floor.
Oh dear God.....Not your precious floors??? What would Jesus think if your floors weren’t clean because your sweet old dog was kindly allowed to live out his years in your home? I’m sure that would really bother Him. Ya know, with Jesus being so anal about such things and always putting looks over content...NOT!
When I read this email I wanted to punch this woman in the face.
I still do, actually. As we travel along this path of me bearing my soul to you every week you’ll come to see that I pretty much want to punch 50% of the people I come across in the face.
My first question to her was ‘Do you have children?’ To which the answer was yes. I had my answer good and ready.
One of our fellow board members then, just before I could send my next email, and because she knew what I would say, intercepted the email string and diplomatically steered her towards other rescues that accept owner surrenders.
Frankie and Andy’s Place Senior Rescue does not.
The reason? Because if I had to deal with people who surrender their dogs for trifling little reasons like a stained floor, I would literally be in jail within a week.
As I sit here and write this on friday, I have six senior dogs sitting at my feet. We have had the mother of all storms since 5 am this morning, consequently none of them wanted to go out in the torrential downpour and pee.
Three of them held it until the rain slacked off an hour ago at 10 am.
The other three of them took a shit in my dining room on my cream carpet.
I am always rolling my eyes and bitching about having to drag that heavy ass carpet cleaner up from the basement, but the only bit of that which pisses me off is the realization that I’m no longer as young and nubile as I once was, when I could sling that thing over my shoulder like one of the seven dwarfs, singing ‘Hi-ho, Hi-ho, it’s off to work I go..’
Our supplements and ‘special foods’ bill for our six seniors runs to hundreds upon hundreds every month but it is, in fact, our honor to spend it on them.
Regular acupuncture and aquapuncture sessions at Gwinnett Animal Hospital to successfully stave off the onset of spondylosis in my darling 13 year old Federico’s back end is $70 a time. I am just thankful he is still alive for me to witness such care being lavished on him.
I choose every home that we have ever owned based on the fact that we have dogs, and that they will grow old and have special needs, as they indeed have.
I know they can’t go and run rings around each other at the park any more, so our outings are more tailored to their energy level, bringing new and wonderful opportunities for us to sit and breathe together, enjoy picnics together and see them just enjoy going anywhere in the car, joyful expectation written all over their faces.
It’s still there, you see, that joyful expectation, it never goes away.....
‘A ride in the car? Yippee, I f*cking love the car!’
‘Is that the big yellow M sign, Mum? Great! I love cheeseburgers, can we have one, can we? Can we?’
‘See that squirrel? Imma kill that little bastard, just let me at him!!’
‘Oooohhhh Yeah, I see that cute little poodle girl, Mmm hmmm, I still got what it takes to put a smile on her face! If I could just hobble down these damn steps quick enough....’
Peter and I are more committed to our dogs in many ways even than to our children.
Our kids are grown adults who can fend for themselves now, pay their own bills and make their own decisions with the freedom of choice that almost anyone lucky enough to live in the western world today enjoys.
Our dogs don’t have the same freedoms, they rely on us to help them navigate the world, take care of their needs and commit to a continuation of that care until they die.
That’s what we did; we COMMITTED to them.
For as long as they all shall live.
We have been through many, many tough times when it would have been way easier to not have dogs, when it would have been easier to have even just one less mouth to feed.
I remember when our darling Levi had gastric torsion and we took him to the emergency veterinarian who presented us with an estimate of $3500.
We were skint, and had exactly $3000 available on the credit cards, not a penny more to our name, and decided to sell my meager jewelry and the car if it came to the full amount. Thankfully, Levi came through it okay and, through the grace of God, our bill was $2900.
I’ve never been so thankful as we had no bloody clue how we were going to manage with just one car! But it never crossed our mind to make a different decision.
Levi is our child, our beloved boy...as much our child as our human son, because we committed to him. We committed to him for life. His fur, longer nose, floppy ears and lack of need for brand new trainers or a college fund doesn’t make him less of a commitment to us......
I could not have a friend who doesn’t feel the same sense of commitment to their dogs.
I cant understand this woman’s thought process- putting her stupid bloody carpets or precious hardwoods above the responsibility of lifetime care for her four legged adopted child- any more than I would understand the mother of a human child leaving her kid dangling on the edge of a cliff because she doesn’t want to break her nails.
Commitment is commitment.
Responsibility is responsibility.
My whole life revolves around commitments that I make to my family, to other people, to dogs or to several organizations.
This is a woman who pays more attention to the commitment of her car payment than to the care of her once beloved ‘child.’
Much easier to pass the old, needy German Shepherd dog that’s passed his prime, on to someone else.....lest he mess up her carpets, piss on her perfectly manicured shrubs or ruin her furniture.
So here’s what I wanted to say to her, and what I WILL be saying to anyone else who writes me a letter like this, so please be warned.
‘Dear So and So,
I’m so glad for you that you have children.
I hope you proudly boast to all of your friends that you bring them up by example, showing them how to be fine upstanding Christians by having them follow in your footsteps.
I hope those children of yours follow the example you have set for them TO THE LETTER when it comes time for you to need some gentle care and understanding.
I hope that, as your bladder loses its strength and those ‘mud runs’ you pontificate about on your Facebook page, actually become the OTHER kind of ‘mud run’......you know, the kind that is rolling uncontrollably out of your trousers......Oh I just pray then that your children start trying to get rid of you........asking complete strangers to take you because you are an embarrassment. Oh, I truly hope so.
I hope they scold you for shitting on their floors and not being able to ‘hold it’ overnight, for my dear, that day shall surely come.
It does to all of us.
I hope they take away every last vestige of your dignity by telling all and sundry about this and I hope that they refuse to modify their living arrangements in your dotage, deny you a ramp to help you with those pesky stairs and maybe even put you outside to live in a shed, if they can’t find someone outside of the family to take you in. Sound awful to you?
This, my dear, is what you are teaching your children. When you go to church and they preach about ‘do unto others’, this is what they are talking about.
I know my blog today is coming across as a rant, however, I feel VERY strongly about commitment on any level, with anything or anyone at all.
I believe if we practice it, we will be role models for our children and make the world a nicer place over generations to come.
I believe if we honor our seniors, both human and dogs, we will learn from them and reap more than we can ever imagine. I know I do.
I believe if we aren’t careful of the lessons we teach those who aim to emulate us, it may come back to bite us in the ass, in ways we would never expect.
So, my final advice to this God awful woman is....Bitch, go to the store, buy some Odoban, pick up the mop or use your carpet cleaner and once you’re done cleaning, sit down and look into the eyes of your dear, sweet 11 year old German Shepherd and ask yourself ‘How does HE feel about losing bladder strength? How does he feel about pooping on himself? A dignified breed like that, what can I do to help him feel okay about the changes that are going on with his body? Should I really be cruelly casting him aside when he needs me, and the comfort and familiarity of the only home he's ever known, now more than ever?’
Then, instead of thinking about what his condition means to your life, try and find an ounce of empathy and a little kindness in your soul.
Charity begins at home.
Here endeth the lesson.