Friday, December 11, 2009

"Society" Could Learn Some Things from Dogs

This is a small item from the AP in yesterday's paper:
"California has more Chihuahuas than it can handle, and it has Hollywood to blame. There are so many Chihuahuas at shelters in Oakland, they have started shipping the dogs out of state. They have sent about 100 to Washington, Oregon and Arizona. Chihuahuas make up 30 percent or more of the dog populations at many California shelters. Experts say pop culture is to blame, with fans imitating Chihuahua-toting celebrities like Paris Hilton and Miley Cyrus, then abandoning the dogs. The problem appears to be specific to California."

Heavy sigh. First, why would anyone want to emulate Paris Hilton, who abandoned her own Chihuahua when it got too big? (Not to mention the zillions of other reasons to aim a bit higher.) Second, shipping small dogs to other shelters mean that the small dogs get adopted, leaving more of the big dogs facing a very uncertain future. As someone who is a confirmed fan of larger shelter dogs, that really rubs me the wrong way. There's nothing wrong with small dogs -- there's one in the house with me, though she's a bit bigger than a Chihuahua -- but we don't need to be importing them to Washington state or anywhere else, when we have more shelter dogs than we can handle already.
So just what is it that makes society so screwed up regarding such matters as this? Myself and all my dog trainer/behavior friends preach constantly to be sure you understand what adopting a dog entails. If you just want something pretty to look at, get a stuffed toy. If you want a being who will offer you unfailing loyalty (though not always on your terms) and are willing to hold up your end of the bargain, then check out what sort of dog will suit you best. Don't run out and get a Chihuahua (or anything else - I'm not trying to pick on Chihuahuas, more the people who tote them around as fashion accessories) because Miley has one.
But of course the people who listen probably didn't need to hear it from us anyway because they had more sense, and the people who need the advice the most don't listen. It gets very frustrating, and has led several of my best-known trainer friends to get out of the business. It's hard banging your head against a wall, trying to get the same message across year after year. I often feel like I'm writing to the wind, that my words (sometimes repeated now for 20 years) fall on deaf ears or no ears at all.
"Society" could use some growing up. I was stupid when I got my first dog. I was lucky that she happened to be a Keeshond who could teach me what I didn't know, and I dedicated myself to knowing a heck of a lot more before I got my second dog. But it seems that some people repeat the same mindless behavior, including acquiring and then disposing of dogs, over and over. For them, I wish coal in their stockings and some event that will awaken their slumbering brain cells. I'm getting tired of having to try and do the awakening.

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