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Some people shouldn't own dogs

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
As some of you may have read on the crossing the bridge thread, my family dog of 13 years just passed away on Thursday. My parents received Taffy, a german shepard/lab mix, as a free puppy back in 1991. I know she lived with us in the house for awhile when we first got her, but it wasn't long before my brother-in-law built her a dog house (complete with siding and shingles) and my parents tethered her outside to it.

My hometown is in Western NY where the summers are hot and humid and the winters can be quite frigid. Poor sweet Taffy lived her entire 13 years tied up outside. My mom or I would feed her every night after supper and I'd let her off her chain to play most days after school but there was little joy in her life. During the summer months she would shed her thick winter coat in patches but she never received a proper brushing out. I highly doubt she even had fresh water on most days although I was at that self involved age that leads me to remember little from those years. During the winters she would shiver alone in her little house while the snowbanks drifted around her. Occassionally we'd heat her some gravy or even some water to warm her food but she still remained outside. There were nights when I knew it was well below freezing outside, and I'd beg and plead with my parents to let her come inside for the night and sleep on the porch which is quite easily shut off from the rest of the house by a sliding glass door. I only remember them allowing her in less than a handful of times because they always complained that she smelled or that she wasn't housebroken, or that she would make a mess.

Growing up in such an environment skewed my idea of dog ownership. While I felt bad for Taffy living outside all alone it wasn't uncommon in my area and I was young and didn't know just how neglectful we were being. We never walked her because she was strong and hard to control on a leash, the only command I was able to teach her was sit because I honestly didn't know any other obedience techniques myself, and she never had any toys to play with. As far as I am concerned it was a horrid exsistance and when I got old enough to know better her quality of life made me incredibly sad. As a result I was actually somewhat relieved at her passing because I knew how badly she had been treated.

I'm not saying that my parents are bad people they were just raised in a time and place when animals were treated like possessions rather than family members. Nate grew up with a chocolate lab that lived indoors and he helped me to learn the right way to live with a dog. Our two labbies are indoor dogs, they each have their own crate to sleep in, toys galore, treats, and all the love and attention they can possibly want. My parents actually tease us about the manner in which we spoil our animals. They assume we do so because we don't have any children and that we are treating the pets as such until we have some. I truly don't agree. I love animals and think they deserve to be pampered and spoiled simply because they are so loving and such a big part of our family.

That being said, my dad has already been pushing to get a new dog. Taffy has yet to be gone for a week, but he was already visiting local shelters this past weekend to look for a replacement. The only dogs he was considering are German Shepards because they remind him of Taffy. Mind you, he rarely fed Taffy, he never played with Taffy, and yet he's the one intent on getting a new dog. My mom and sister on the other hand are still sad over Taffy's death and not quite ready to bring a new dog into their lives.

I was actually quite happy when my dad was told he couldn't adopt a dog from the shelter because he intended on keeping it outside at all times. I started searching petfinder.org for some medium sized dogs that could live indoors with them and that weren't German Shepards because I don't feel it's right to so blatantly replace a dog with another one. I also started educating them on invisible fencing which would make it possible for a dog to run and play in their big yard without escaping or getting out into the road. I had found them the most beautiful dog ever and I really thought I was making some progress in changing their view on pet ownership.

However, I just received these emails from my mom and I can't even tell you how livid I am!!
"Your sister just called me a few minutes ago to tell me that Dad has a new dog and guess what its a German Shepard. I know nothing more about it except it only cost him $35 and he got it somewhere near here. I'm sure Julie will fill you in on all the details." and later "I really thought that Jamie Leigh (the beautiful dog I had found for them) was the dog for us she was a middle sized dog who didn't look like Taffy which would be a blessing to me. I don't think it bothers him as much as it does me that Taffy is gone. But then he never really fed or did anything for her even though it was his watch dog. He needs a dog to watch over his garage. Now tell me how the dog on a chain is going to scare anyone away from his cars in the garage."

I'm speechless. There is no way in heck that my dad should be owning another dog. I've already told a friend of mine that if he even thinks he's going to treat this new dog the same way he did Taffy, that I will, myself, call their local animal control and have it removed. I am angry enough with myself for letting Taffy be so neglected, I cannot in good conscience allow it to happen again. I know my family isn't meaning to be malicious, they don't seem to view their actions as being hurtful, but that does not give them any right to do this to another innocent dog.

post #2 of 6
Heidi, I feel your frustration!!!
I could have written that story myself, down to the last detail, except that when Odyssey passed we (my mother and I) had no intention of getting another dog. We had to put her down, and knowing that it was due to OUR neglect (the chaining outside, and her jumping against the end of the chain, caused a disk lesion in her neck which paralyzed her) we would not put ourselves thru it again.
We had always had dogs when I was younger, and always kept them the same way - outside, with shelter, on a chain, but I don't recall ever spending a great amount of time with them. We did provide additional insulation for them during the bitter cold winters (extra hay and even fiberglass insulation in one doghouse roof) but they were outside critters, and didn't get much attention. When I was a toddler, my father treated them as hunting dogs, and they were treated well, but as I got older this lessened. Thankfully my father realizes that even though he now has room for a dog, he hasn't the energy or the patience to treat one right.
I'd be willing to wager your father is one of the camp of "it's just a pet" and that he values the kitties as little as he values the dog. He obviously considers the dog a tool, and like most men insists on having a tool he really doesn't need, but he still thinks he has to have it. It is too bad that your mother couldn't have put her foot down before he acquired this dog. I just hope that you and your mother and sister can do all you can to make this dog's life a happy one.
post #3 of 6
Heidi, it sounds like your parents need to be better educated about pet ownership, and your dad isn't interested in having a dog for companionship at all, he's only interested in protection. If you bought them a couple of books like "Dogs for Dummies" and a book on how to train dogs would they read them?
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
My dad is under the impression that he is the king of the household and that the rest of us are his subjects. My mom doesn't feel like she is ready for a new dog but as usual, my father didn't even consult her before purchasing one. Honestly with as pitifully as he treats dogs, he has been even worse to my mom and us children before in the past, but that's another story.

My mom knows better than to get in his way when he's intent on something. I too know his nature and that's why I was attempting to lead him towards a medium sized dog that could be a housepet. Unfortunately the dog I was trying to interest them in wouldn't be available until June 12 which was apparently not quick enough for Dad.

While I want him to just take this new dog back, I don't know all of the details yet. I'm guessing from both the $35 charge and the fact that he got the dog so quickly, that he simply bought it from someone in the area. I'm hoping it's not a puppy because he doesn't have the patience to housetrain a little dog and it will quickly find itself outside as well.

Once I'm filled in on the situation regarding this dog I'm going to try to find the most diplomatic angle from which to approach this. My mom is growing to understand more about proper pet care and she did try very hard the last couple of years to make Taffy's life more pleasant. I'm hoping I'll be able to get through to them before this new dog has to suffer as well.

I'm sorry Rica Lynn that you've had to go through a similiar situation. It's incredibly hard to know that you've caused an innocent and trusting animal pain. I'm glad that your family has grown to understand that a dog is not a good choice for their lifestyle.

Lori, I wish it was that simple. They don't seem to see the problem so they don't really think there's anything to learn about. By some miracle Taffy survived 13 years and I think they equate that with competent ownership. Honestly she was just a tough tough dog that probably should have died years ago.

My mom was almost shocked that I would spend $200 taking Charity the stray and her litter to the vet. She knows I do not have the money and doesn't seem to believe I should be spending what little I do have on animals that aren't mine. I was probably just as floored when she recommended that I not take Lola and her kittens to the vet if any problems arose after their birth. She suggested that I just "let nature take it's course" and that if any of the kittens got sick and died it was because they were supposed to, that's what nature had intended for them. It's a way of thinking that I've been exposed to for the past 23 years but that has never felt quite right to me. I hope I can get them to change their POV ASAP.

post #5 of 6
Gosh, that is so frustrating. My father is in the same camp, and without going into gory-ness, one dog ran away and two others died (different times, when I was a kid). Thankfully he stopped getting any dogs, as he didn't feel they were worth his time.

On a similar note, but not so extreme, just this weekend I had a heated conversation with a neighbor couple doors down. He lets his dog run everywhere unleashed, and poop everywhere. His favorite spot lately seemed to be right across the street from me in the park-like area (the dirt section). So that morning as we were leaving we caught the dog doing his business right there. As we were driving off, we saw the neighbor in his driveway, so we stopped to ask him to pick up his dog's poop.

His reply was "I don't pick up dog sh$#, my dog's not the only dog doing that, and it's not your property, so I don't see your problem". He insisted that he'd trained the dog to go in the canyon area, despite us telling him we JUST saw him doing it right in the dirt section. If he is training the dog, then he is deliberating having him do it right there, because he was apparently angry at a sign I posted there asking people to please pick up their dog poop. His words? "That was your sign, right? I pissed on it." Yup, classy.

Because of a conversation I'd had earlier with another neighbor, I didn't even bother asking him to keep the dog leashed. My concern was that the dog is a little dumb, and runs into the street AT oncoming cars. Several visiting friends had mentioned they'd almost run it over, and I have almost too. Turns out this guy already had another dog who liked to do the same thing, and it had gotten run over and killed.

The guy's attitude really spoke volumes to me. He seemed to have many issues, least of which was control and women "telling him what to do" (hubby told me this later). I feel sorry for his wife. He also really didn't see the dog as anything other than a "thing". I was most surprised by the controlling attitude because he's young, couldn't have been more than mid 30s.

My mom is also shocked that I treat my cats like kids, and has actually told me once she was "angry" at me having so many cats, in the house, no less (gasp!), with all their awful diseases and wild ways. After a few choice words from me, she's banned from ever mentioning my cats again.
post #6 of 6
People like that need restraining orders. Seriously.

I'm glad you're willing to stand up for this dog. I've had a similar past--treating dogs as property, and even when starting to learn better, only breaking free of old ways of thinking very slowly. That's worse in a way, because then I didn't have the excuse that I didn't know better--I should have known better. Yes, if all else fails, do call the authorities. When it comes to cats and dogs, the law is usually at least quite a bit against irresponsibility (to a degree) in the U.S.

For example, there are leash laws...

Some people only understand "might makes right." The good thing in those cases is that the cops have more might than they do :P
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