Friday, March 6, 2009

Puppy Season

Puppy season is here. They are wriggling, fuzzy, bundles of puppy breath and pure joy. Everyone knows that. But, in true animal rescue advocate fashion, I'm here to give you a list of reasons why you should not get a puppy.

1. Puppies don't interview reliably. Seriously, unless you are an expert temperament tester or have a magic spell that translates genetic information into future personality tendencies, you really just have no idea what kind of dog you're going to get. How compatible will he be with your family and lifestyle? Sure, you're "raising him right" but do you really have any idea what that means? Adult dogs will tell you who they are -- shy, outgoing, energetic, loving, anxious, intelligent, whatever -- the grown-ups put those things out on the table. And physically, there are a lot of variables, too. Adult dogs will say, "Here I am. I shed a lot." That's good to know! Puppies even change color sometimes. Brown dog for 2 months then beige dog for 10 years. How many adult dogs have you seen and said, "Gosh, who would want such an unattractive dog?" Of course, they didn't know! All puppies are cute and sweet and wonderful. But it only lasts about a year. If you're going to live with a dog for the next decade or two, go pick out a dog you like. Or better yet, go pick out a senior dog. They have the same potty training issues as puppies but they don't chew stuff up.

2. There is a surplus. There are simply too many dogs. And unfortunately, most people making puppies these days are doing it for money. Well, maybe not most. I'm not sure. But the people making the most puppies are doing it for money, definitely. If we stop giving them money, maybe they stop making puppies. Maybe we don't have to kill so many "extra" dogs. It's a lot of extra dogs. Visit and they'll tell you all about it. It's a lot of unnecessary death. And the lives preceeding the death are not so fabulous either. It's a waste and a shame and a tragedy. Don't support people who make puppies for money because, well... it can't be good karma. I'm just saying. And imagine if we started running out of dogs? Then people could breed them because people want them. Imagine what kind of world that would be... y'know, the kind where dogs are precious instead of products. What's up with buying and selling family members, anyway? And since modern dogs really don' t have any kind of job -- they don't guard the house or the flocks or chase bunny rabbits to earn their keep nowadays -- what else can they be other than family members? Think about it.

3. So much work! There's a reason puppies are so cute. It's so we forgive them for being such a hassle! Housebreaking, teething, training, oh my... They have small bladders and short attention spans. They yodel... all night long. They make big messes. Everywhere. Constantly. They have no manners. They sleep when you want to play and play when you want to sleep. Having a puppy is a full-time job. And it lasts for a year. Sometimes longer. Eventually you come to realize that they're past the point where you can use the puppy excuse to downplay their bad behavior and they're sure not as cute as they were back when... and then you realize that "raising him right" didn't actually happen as you planned. You worked hard enough at it, but where did this wild child come from? Why doesn't he like to play fetch? You bought so many toys and he destroys them all. What's going on here? If you had adopted an adult dog you could blame all of that bad behavior on someone else, on some other circumstance. You could take credit only for the good progress. You could pick out the dog who likes to play fetch or who sleeps a lot or who never jumps on people or who is perfectly housebroken or who is so beautiful you can't imagine life without him.

That dog may be at the shelter or the pound right now. It's worth a look.

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