Thursday, July 14, 2011

"We can't keep the dog anymore, now that we have kids"

While I wrote a blog regarding tips for choosing your new pet, I feel compelled to write specifically about children and the potential new dog.  This is because so, so many of our owner surrenders came from people who had children, or who didn't properly consider having children, before they adopted a dog.  It's heartbreaking how many owners told us "I don't have time for him anymore", "he needs more than I can give", "my baby is allergic to dogs", "I can't afford him anymore".  The list goes on and on.  I think if we can encourage people to really, really think about this topic they will do a more thorough inventory of themselves to be totally certain they can take on a dog.

Most people have the best intentions at times.  After all, isn't the "American Dream" owning your own home, your minivan, and having 2 kids and your golden retriever?  I think additionally, the idea of bringing a pet into your home sounds ideal, since we see the value in raising children with animals.  It teaches them responsibility, and sadly, how to deal with death.  I think most people feel if they raise a great dog, or adopt one who is well-behaved, they'll never imagine a cause to surrender it.  The reality is that our surrenders are great dogs, whose only crime was not fitting into the challenges that having children can bring. Let me be clear, that many people have no problem at all managing children and dogs, but far too many don't consider how difficult it may be, even with a fantastic pet.

A potential adopter needs to shut their eyes and imagine their life with all things considered.  A finicky baby, running errands for your kids, buying your kids the things they need, making dinner... all while your dog is begging for the attention he deserves.  Will you have time for him?  Once a woman returned her Pyr to us because she said he was chewing on her baby's toys.  Another, the dog was large and tended to knock her kids over during play.  And, of course, children grow up and the parent realizes they are allergic to dogs.  We cannot blame a parent for putting their children first and eliminating anything which may hinder their health.  The real test becomes, are you ready to address these things and still keep the promise you made to your dog?  That you will keep and love him forever?

With Pyrs in specific, I always ask adults with no children, who plan to have them, if they've considered their potential night barking.  They may not do it now, but who knows.. perhaps they will feel more inclined to guard at night, now that they have a baby to protect!  I can't imagine trying to get my newborn to bed while my dog was barking.  And I can imagine even the slightest bark waking the baby will indeed cause me to feel frustrated.. which will just lead to more barking.  Do I have a plan to address this?  For allergies, there are many articles and resources available which speak to various ways we can reduce allergens and keep our dog in our home.  That, will probably be a different blog!

The bottom line is really, really, really think about it.  Know your personal limits and don't fold to the pressure of a spouse or begging children to get that dog until every single person in your house is ready!  Make sure your dog is well-trained and you have action plans in place should any challenges arise.


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