Join Date: May 2008
Location: St. Albert, AB, Canada
I've always been a big proponent of keeping pets for life, and I have to admit that in general (with a few notable exceptions) that I haven't agreed with the majority of people I know who have rehomed pets. In some cases I've been outright furious.
These past two weeks have been tough for me, and I've been forced to rethink my position a bit.
A friend of mine, who began as a dog walking/training client, has had a string of really awful luck the past two years. I was working with her and her dog, who I will call E, on and off for training. E is leash aggressive to other dogs, and occasionally people as well.
Two years ago I was working part time at two jobs, and doing a tiny bit of training on the side. I got a call from my friend, she had been in a car accident and while she was mostly ok she'd hurt her foot pretty badly.
E is a big german shepherd female, a rescue. With a broken foot there was no way my friend could even WALK...let alone walk a big dog with leash issues. So, I said I'd walk E for her, I'd come as often as I could and she'd pay me per walk. I ended up spending a LOT of time with E, since she really is a wonderful dog, and working with her on her leash issues a TON.
She improved a lot walking with me, and I spent time hanging out with my friend, helping her out with a few small things around her home and talking about how awesome this dog is.
Just as she was getting back on her feet after the accident (about a year later), she got laid off from her job with the government AND, because she was contracted not a permanent employee, they also cut her pension.
She decided to take her retirement early, and work on the side as a consultant (health related things).
Fast forward to now...she was forced to sell her home. She can't afford to stay there, and she's been searching for MONTHS to find a smaller home she can afford that will also allow a big shepherd. In our area there are none. Absolutely none.
I've spent the past weeks trying frantically to find someone who will take the, admittedly much improved -training wise - shepherd I love...with no luck. We even went so far as to try an agency that trains dogs to be emotional support animals from troops home from Afghanistan that have PTSD. As an example of how far she's come she aced the test...right up until they brought a little dog out.
If we hadn't pulled out all the stops we wouldn't have found E a home and my friend was looking at the very real possibility of having to surrender a dog-aggressive dog to the local HS (which claims to be no kill but in truth euths any dog that doesn't pass their extremely strict test...E would not have passed. And we both knew it.). I stomped on MY feelings and told my friend that if it came to that I'd help her take E in.
Luckily, my friend did find a family and E will be going to a wonderful couple and their 12 year old daughter. They will work with her, love her, and have her as a wonderful running buddy, the best situation possible.
...and I have to reassess my feelings about rehoming.
My friend literally turned over every rock. She replied to every housing ad that would allow dogs she could. Turns out they were fine with her smaller dog, a french bulldog, but E was too big. Everywhere.
Now, flipping through the listings on kijiji I have to force myself to think that all those people who claim allergies MIGHT have the kind that you just can't deal with. That everyone one who 'has to move and can't take their dog' has a legitimate problem. Sometimes you just can't do enough planning.
My friend SHOULD have been able to keep her dog. She had done her due diligence and thought she would be able to have her home as long as she wanted. And then her pension got cut, she had to spend a bunch of money because of her accident, and she couldn't find anywhere to go that would take her dog too.
I'm mostly just posting here to get this all off my chest. I'm so heart-sick for my friend, who still has to give up the dog she loves with all her heart even though she did everything right.
Today is a hard day.