Thursday, December 1, 2011

My way of thinking/ Maynard: pet adoption

The picture is of Maynard.  He lived 18 wonderful years in a good home, once he was rescued by my friend,
Theresa.  I never met Maynard but I heard a lot about him.  From all accounts he was a good boy and a blessing to everyone who knew him.  That's my kind of dog.  That's my kind of human too! 

I was deeply moved when Maynard passed away last week.  I have two beautiful rescue dogs myself and I work with shelter dogs on a weekly basis.  It always gets to me when a beloved "pet" (I dislike that word), member of the family leaves behind that empty space for the family who loved him/her.  You see, rescue dogs are special.  People bring them into their lives usually because they are truly wanted, whereas pet shop puppies are often impulse buys, purchased by people who are seduced by the cuteness of a little puppy.  They have no real idea what they're getting into.

My friends who work with me at the local shelter always tell me I am the worst salesman ever!  I guess I am.  I tell people the reality of having a new member of the family.  Dogs will have accidents on your newly cleaned floor.  Whether housebroken or not, their potty schedule doesn't always work with yours.  Dogs throw up unexpectedly.  They will try to let you know, but that isn't always feasible.  They will wake you up in the middle of the night.  They may eat a few of your favorite shoes before they learn that is unacceptable.  They have personalities that are individual just like human beings.  They will have to learn and grow by mimicking their owners characteristics.  Just like a child, it takes time, patience, and love.  Most of all love.  I tell people, if they don't have tons of love to give, I recommend a goldfish.  Even then, I might worry about the goldfish!

Let's say you meet all my criteria.  Yay!  You can have a new member of the family.  BUT, there is one more thing to be aware of.  That new love of your life will grow old.  You will probably outlive them so, are you prepared for the inevitability of their senior years? The vet bills?  The added stress you will go through when you face their decline?  These are things I ask people to think about seriously.  I am not interested in finding temporary homes.  I am only interested in permanent ones.

Okay. Okay.  I KNOW I can get on a soapbox about this subject.  Believe me, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to pet (that word again) adoption.  I believe with all my heart that every living creature is connected to every other living thing.  It is our duty to protect each other according to our natures and our abilities.  I just saw a video of a bird feeding it's dog friend noodles from a pot on the stove that the dog couldn't reach.  Tell me we're not ALL connected.  Love is NOT exclusive to the human race.

Well, maybe this was a bit of a ramble but I hope it makes my point.  We are all responsible for the choices we make, whether it is adopting an animal, or watching out for the people around us, even the people we might not want to see.

                                              Peace and Love,




  1. Bill, Another lovely post! You know I'm an animal lover and have a menagerie of rescued animals (dogs, cats, turtle). We bought hamsters from the pet store when the kids were little but they were well cared for (terribly short life spans, though, but each had their own personality!). It is so sad when we lose a pet. Please tell your friend Theresa that I am so sorry for her loss of Maynard. Thank you for all the work you do for the animals. I agree with you that we are all connected! Sending hugs for a beautiful, from the heart post.

  2. Bill -- you are such a blessing to shelter animals! and to your readers :)

    You know we completely agree with you that animals (not "pets') are part of the family unit. wouldn't be the same dynamic without them! Wilbur is a rescue and when we adopted him he "only had one day left". How could potential pup parents pass up on this little wonder?? I'm just so happy the we were there to meet & adopt him.

    I can't think about Atti & Wilbur aging... it will happen and when it does, I'll deal with it. They are a part of me...

    Warm thoughts to Theresa. I feel her loss.

    Heidi & Atticus
    "commentary to give you paws..."

    ps: got a good giggle at the goldfish line! lol

  3. I know that Theresa appreciates your warm comments. So do I. I am preaching to the choir here Trish and Heidi! Your love of animals is legendary. I don't think I have any friends who don't love animals in one way or another. My readership has grown in ways I never anticipated and I am trying to reach out to the hundreds who remain invisible to me. The fight for all things right is in our realm of responsibility once we begin tapping on our keyboards and sending a message to the world. I am proud of us for giving the world something to think about!



  4. This post is beautiful. It made me go back in time to all my 4 legged family I have lost over the years, and how special they were and brought such joy.

  5. Bill, I love this story. I'm a cat person myself but I love dogs too. We always rescue cats when we're adding a member to our family. Our latest addition is a kitten that was abandoned to be a "barn" cat. We brought her home as soon as she was old enough to leave her mom. I admit that she's driving us a little crazy. She loves to sit up high and absolutely refuses to follow any rules. I think having free run of the barn where she could hang from the rafters if she wanted is a memory she just can't let go. :) We love her though. Our oldest cat has yet to become a fan.

  6. I disagree ... with your friends at the animal shelter! Honesty is not a bad trait in a salesperson, I wish I could find a car salesperson like that :D Having someone give you a reality check before adoption makes sure that you don't hit buyers remorse.

    We have our own semi menagerie I think at one time we were an official branch of the phoenix zoo. Now we are down to (or is it up to) 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 snakes and now 2 horses and even the ones I'm not crazy about (cats, and only 'cos I'm allergic) show such unconditional love.. Yes, even snakes wrap themselves around you and give you a hug, unintentional maybe but it can frequently be more than I get from my teens!

    Of course there were things I could have done without: hairballs, feeding mealworms to bearded dragons especially when they escaped ~ Can you say Eew!, finding our 6 year old Havanese dead in her crate and the prospect of our 14 year old Havanese passing but when you put everything in perspective our fluffy family adds so much more to the mix. I love my daughters but there are definitely days when the fluffies are easier to love and they are always grateful to be with me.

    Beautiful and touching post Bill Austin. Thanks

    Laine D.
    "Aspire to Inspire"

  7. I'm not sure I could work in a shelter or volunteer with abused or abandoned animals. It just breaks my heart too much. (I can barely watch the ASPCA commercials.)

    I think you do an incredible service by telling people the realities of having a new pet, especially if that pet is likely to have some extra challenges. How often do we get fantasies about something we are going to do, fantasies that help us deny the reality of the work ahead. Yes, the fantasies are lovely, and perhaps they help promote action at first, but at some point we bump up against the real world. In this case that can be animal poop!

    Really wonderful to think of the love you give to people and pets in your life.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing