A few days ago a friend posted something on Facebook that broke my heart. It was a photo of a cute little dog, blind in one eye, who needed to be adopted.
He is 15 years old.
That’s sad enough, but here’s what really broke my heart: the dog had been surrendered by his owner’s because he was (wait for it) “too old.”
Here are the actual responses from the intake surrender form:
Why are you surrendering this dog? “Old too old, got a newer dog to replace.”
How long have you had this dog? “15 years”
When was this dog last vaccinated? “Never”
Health issues? “Just old”
How many hours was this dog outside? “24”
How many hours was this dog left alone? “24”
Where was this dog housed? “Housed under the porch.”
We all know people who don’t value their pets–they dispose of them like yesterday’s trash. There are people who surrender their pets to shelters when they go on vacation because they don’t want to deal with the pet. Then, they get a new one when they get back. It’s easy, right? It’s “just a pet.”
Have you ever considered what we teach our kids by how we treat our pets?
If you are annoyed each time you have to get up to let your pet out, feed them or take them for a walk, then you’re teaching your kid to be annoyed at responsibilities. Responsibilities are part of everyone’s life. Teach your kids to do things with joy because they’re watching you. Trust me.
You’re busy. I’m busy. We’re all busy. We get it. However, when you can’t take time to love on and play with your pets then your kids notice … and they translate this to you not having time for your family.
If you have a habit of yelling at your pet or speaking to them disrespectfully in front of your kids, you’re teaching them how to communicate when annoyed or tired. Remember, those little eyes and ears take in everything and they don’t distinguish any difference between how you talk to pets and people.
If you’re in the habit of swatting your pet on the nose or the rump when they do something wrong, then your kids will take your lead. You may start seeing them being physical with the pets, their brothers and sisters and their friends.
If you are in the habit of getting rid of your pets when you go on vacation or when they get old or sick, then don’t be surprised when your kids grow up to have a skewed value of life. And, don’t be heartbroken when they aren’t interested in taking care of you when you get old and sick. Ouch.