The SPCA Revolving Door

For years now I have lived with multiple dogs. “So what!” you say. “Many people live with more than one dog, I myself have two!”

“Two?” I say. “And you consider that living with multiple dogs?” then I laugh. I laugh because what these people do not understand is that I live with WAY more than two dogs, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Sure my house is noisy and looks like a daycare centre most of the time, but the lessons I have learned, far outweigh the work involved. When people ask me, “How can you live with so many dogs?” I smile and ask them, “How can YOU live without one?”

Most people are very negative when they hear how many dogs live in my home. Some have even accused me of being an animal hoarder. I have weathered SPCA inspections, and dealt with flak from the city bylaw office all because no one can believe one person is capable of caring for all these animals. But someone has to!

My pack is the detritus of human society. Each and every one of them was thrown away like garbage, one quite literally as she was found in a trash can at the age of six weeks. All of them were unwanted, some abused, some neglected, some just afraid of the world around them because of improper human handling. None of them are bad dogs, although if you asked them, I am sure their former abusive owners would say they were the worst dogs in the world. All of them want love, a warm home to shelter in and a family to be a part of. When they come to me I give them all that, and then I find them the right home.

Rehoming an unwanted animal is no easy task, although anyone who works for an SPCA shelter would say it isn’t rocket science. SPCA shelters while they serve a necessary purpose do nothing towards rectifying our companion animal overpopulation problem. Indeed it is my opinion that the methods of “animal rescue” used by SPCA shelters in Canada only perpetuate the problem.

In order to explain my opinion let us look at the SPCA process from start to finish.

1.) An animal is abandoned or lost in the city.

2.) Local animal control or an SPCA team find the animal, and take it to the shelter.

3.) The animal is held for three days in anticipation of an owner claiming it.

4.) Once the three day hold is up the animal is moved into the adoption room and put on display.

5.) The animal is then adopted out to a citizen who takes it home.

Alright there we have it! Sounds good right? Except for one thing, nothing is known about this animal. It’s quirks of character did not manifest themselves during its stay at the shelter, because shelter environments are not conducive to calm behavior in dogs. Shelter environments bring out the worst in an animal. The problem with this method is simply this, no rehabilitation of the animal is done by the SPCA. It leaves their shelter with the same issues it arrived with. Usually those issues are the reason the animal ended up in the shelter in the first place. Can you see where I’m going with this?

For those of you who can’t, let me explain it in more simple terms.

1.) Animal is strayed because present owner has had enough of puppy peeing on the floor.

2.) Animal is picked up by, or surrendered to the SPCA and put up for adoption. No training is done, the animal is placed in a kennel until someone seeking a furry companion comes along and requests to adopt it.

3.) Animal gets taken home where it proceeds to pee on the floor (remember, no one has taught it not to do this)

4.) Animal is strayed again, or returned to the shelter and the whole process starts all over again.

5.) After several times through the system (still with no attempts at retraining) the animal is deemed unadoptable and euthanized. (Hmmm, sound like they should install revolving doors?)

I just explained why I live with so many dogs. Now let me explain how I rescue an animal, and we will see if my theories make sense to you.

1.) I receive a call about, or find an animal that has been strayed, abused, abandoned, or is simply not wanted by their owner for whatever reason they can drum up.

2.) I take the animal home and introduce it to my pack.

3.) For the next week the animal is literally attached at the hip. Everywhere I go it goes. This serves to ensure that any quirks of behavior or issues that need to be addressed are identified quickly and a plan of action for this particular animal can be drawn up.

4.) Retraining starts based on the issues manifested during the week long assessment period described above. There is no set limit in time for training, every animal is different, learns at their own pace, and must be dealt with individually. Some learn what they need to in a week or two and are ready to be offered to the RIGHT home for adoption, others need months worth of rehab training.

5.) Once an animal is made “bomb proof” (meaning it can live in the average home without a problem) it is then ready for adoption.

6.) When ready to be adopted, the animals bio is posted to Facebook with pictures, and a brief description of their likes, needs and dislikes. (Can they live with cats, children, other animals?) A brief medical history is also added. (Please note all unfixed animals have spay or neuter surgery before being adopted out if medically advisable. To date only one of our rescues has been denied this surgery due to respiratory issues.)

7.) Someone applies to adopt the animal. (That’s when the hoop jumping begins.)

8.) Background checks are made on the prospective adoptive family. References are called, and they MUST have a relationship with a veterinarian and be willing to sign a permission to release information, so we can check their vet reference.. (We do not adopt rescues out to first time pet owners)

9.) If they get past the reference and background check, a home visit is scheduled. (We want to see where our rescues will be living.)

10.) If all checks out and the adoption is approved, the animal is then released to the adoptive applicant and all the necessary paperwork is signed. However, they still do not own the dog outright. A three month assessment period follows. After about six weeks a second home visit is made to determine if the animal is doing well in the new placement. If it is then the final paperwork is signed. If the animal does not fit in, it is returned to us and continues training until the RIGHT candidate comes along. If the right candidate is not found the animal will stay with us for life.

You be the judge compare both methods of animal rescue. Now YOU tell me which makes more sense?

EVERYTHING Worth Knowing…

EVERYTHING Worth Knowing…
So I guess it is about time I explained this blog title! “Everything worth knowing I learned from my dog!” After all it is a strong statement to make. No I don’t have genius dogs who know everything, but everything important in life was taught to me by my dogs. Let me explain.

I used to be just like the average person. My life revolved around me, money was the most important thing in the world, and if you didn’t have it, I made a judgement call. (Sad I know, but it was once true.) Money and social position were everything to me. As a result I ended up with a battery of friends who were shallow and uncaring. Then I started working with dogs.

Dogs are funny, they look at you and no matter what kind of a front you put up to convince the world you are someone else, they see right through it to who you really are. What’s more? They make you see it too. Suddenly I was seeing my world through the eyes of my dogs, and it wasn’t what I wanted to see. I wasn’t who I wanted to be, hell, I wasn’t even someone I liked!

I watched the dogs, and in time came to realize that they looked at life from a completely different angle than us humans. Firstly, dogs had no idea what money was so as a result did not worry about it, they just trusted everything would work out in the end, and it usually did. They did not look at a new rescue and ostracize him/her because of lack of income, job, or possessions. They accepted every new rescue that came into my home without question or pre-judgement. They did not look at a loss of limb or eyesight and say “I don’t want to know THAT dog, he’s a cripple.” They just accepted that this dog was different, and would even work towards making his/her life easier.

Wow! I thought, dogs really take people (and other dogs) at face value! They accept everything the way it is, and deal! I started to examine my own reactions to things, and was not happy with the results. From that point on I began looking at everyone through the eyes of my dogs. Did you know, you meet the most interesting people when you stop worrying about appearances? I soon learned that lesson as I found myself befriending people that in the past I would have ignored for one reason or another. Perhaps they were jobless or missing a limb, or blind, but I was beginning to learn that none of those things mattered. I was learning tolerance, and compassion, I was learning what life was really about, and my teachers were dogs!

Now most people will tell you that dogs are incapable of logical thought, or feeling. They will tell you a dog can’t reason, they will tell you they are just dumb animals. But I was learning something that would make me question everything humans thought they knew about dogs. It was then that I began my studies of dog behavior. It was then that I began to see the world in a whole new light.

I had always been one to panic in times of trouble, but the dogs were teaching me to deal with life as it happens. Take it head on, so to speak. Don’t worry about what happened yesterday, yesterday is gone. Do not dwell on the past your future lies ahead not behind. What might happen three weeks from now will not be important until three weeks from now. Live in the moment!

I suddenly found myself INVOLVED in life instead of constantly worried about where it was going to take me. I began to experience more of everything instead of letting things pass me by while I worried about tomorrow. In other words I had finally learned that “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.” I was starting to LIVE not just exist!

Dogs run on instinct, they trust their own judgement. If they don’t like someone it is not because that person drives a beat up old car, or hasn’t worked in a year. If a dog doesn’t like you it is because they instinctively know you are not a good person, they see it in you. You can’t hide anything from a dog. I began to trust my dog’s opinions of people, and they were seldom wrong. To this day, I take one of my dogs with me when meeting someone for the first time. If they react badly, then I know I must proceed with caution.

So in conclusion I give you this:

Everydogsmom’s Dogs Rules for Living

1.) Don’t prejudge people according to looks or social status.
2.) Accept everyone for who they are.
3.) Live in the moment, life is better that way.
4.) Always help the next guy out, because one day you will be the one who needs help.
5.) Don’t dwell in the past, it will hold you back from experiencing life to its fullest.
6.) Dance like no ones watching, sing like no one’s listening, and love like today was your last day.

So you see, everything WORTH knowing…I learned from my dogs!

Peace Out!