I thought it might be interesting to see why rescuers often ended up hating humans, so I thought I’d share a few stories that explained why. I also thought it would be a nice holiday gift for those of you who enjoy feeling a little righteous anger and adolescent-level scorn now and then. You could even get a few good sneers in, if you are so inclined.
- Our foster dog, Jackie, was an extremely shy Treeing Walker Coonhound. We advised prospective adopters that she needed an experienced family. Well, we had an applicant who begged us to let them adopt her. They argued that the father was a social worker who required patience and sensitivity for his job, and that the mother’s family had dogs for a long time and she was sure she could help this timid dog break out of her shell. The girls were loving and enthusiastic. After a lot of back and forth, we gave in. Well, surprise, surprise, after nine months they returned her because she wasn’t warming up to them. (They had, however, purchased a Shih-Tzu who was doing just fine.) They dropped her off at her new foster’s home (we couldn’t take her back because we had another foster) and didn’t react or say goodbye when Jackie whined and cried as they left. Her new foster said that it was one of the most heartbreaking things she had ever seen. They didn’t provide any of her vet records at drop-off, though, so I had to call them to get the name of their vet. They never called us back. We tried a few times but it finally dawned on me: they had never taken her to the vet — not once.
- In October of 2011, rescues in the area received an email from a couple asking for a group to take their 13-year-old Sheltie. 9/11 had required them to do a lot of soul-searching, and they had decided that they wanted to get a beach house. Their senior dog would scratch up the floors.
- We received a call from animal control asking us to take two purebred dogs — a Yorkie and a white standard poodle — whose human had died suddenly and without family. People in the local poodle community found out that the woman had died and contacted us, seemingly very concerned for the poodle’s welfare. One woman who claimed to have been a very good friend of the dog’s owner (there was no evidence of this) became threatening, saying that she knew the dog very well (she got the dog’s name slightly wrong and the gender entirely wrong) and that she knew that the two dogs would be miserable being separated from each other (in fact, we had quickly determined that the sensitive and reserved Yorkie loathed the high-strung standard poodle). This woman eventually tried to get the breeder to weigh in on her behalf. When the breeder heard the news that the poodle had been diagnosed with Addison’s disease (a health problem common to Standard Poodles), we never heard from her or the other woman again (breeders are obligated to keep health records and share news like that with adopters, so the fact that she didn’t ask for more information is highly unethical).
- There was the woman who was evicted from her apartment and whose possessions were left out on her lawn. That evening, she drove up in a friend’s truck and retrieved her television, leaving her two dogs, who were crated in the snow, behind. (We understand that evictions are life-rending events and that people often have limited resources, but even taking the dogs to the pound would have been preferable to leaving them to die, which they would have done if they had been left overnight.)
- There was the woman who kept her four Shih-Tzu mixes in a utility closet, leaving one of them so matted he had to have most of his hair cut off. One of the mats had pushed his ear forward so it was bent in the wrong direction. (Once the mat was cut out, his ear eventually returned to its natural position.) Another of the dogs didn’t have a name. When she heard later that one of the dogs might be pregnant, she asked her rescuer if she could have a puppy.
See what I mean? Pile on enough stories like this and you see why rescuers can be bitter pessimists. (For example, if the owner of the two Shih-Tzu mixes had decided she didn’t want them mentioned in this story, I would just move on to one of the other closet dogs our rescue helped. Yeah. Not an isolated phenom.)
I suppose you are wondering what happened to all of these dogs. Well, aside from the Sheltie, who went into a well-respected Sheltie rescue, we found homes for all of these dogs.
- Jackie stayed with her second foster home, two of the most doting, wonderful animal people I have ever had the privilege of meeting. I saw her at a volunteer picnic and she was afraid of me, probably because she thought I would take her away from her wonderful home and put her in an unsuitable one. (I don’t really blame her. Sorry, Jackie.)
- The poodle stayed with her foster home, a veritable paradise for dogs.
- The Yorkie was adopted by an active senior citizen where she lived a decorous life.
- The lawn dogs were adopted — one by his foster, the other by a civilian who ended up becoming a valued volunteer (and a good friend) . They saw each other once at a volunteer picnic, where they were only mildly interested in each other.
- Two of the Shih-Tzu mixes were placed with civilians. The other two were adopted by the volunteer who alerted us to them in the first place and engineered their rescue. I see them every day. (Hi Annabelle! Hi Doobie!)
So if you meet animal rescuers and they appear to be a bit misanthropic, this is why: they see humans at their worst, and animals at their best, far too often. Fortunately in these cases, we got to see humans at their best, too, when it counted most. This article also reminded of how lucky I am to know these people, so that’s a nice holiday gift for me, too.