Monday, September 28, 2009

"How could you" Story of an abandoned dog

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. ...

Whenever I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?" -- but then you'd relent and roll me over for a belly rub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect.
We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs" you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love.

She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" -- still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.
Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a prisoner of love."

As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch -- because your touch was now so infrequent -- and I would've defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with "papers."

You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed, "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life.

You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked "How could you?"
They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago.

At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind -- that this was all a bad dream... or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.

When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room.

She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days.
As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.

She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago.

She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?"

Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry." She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself --a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place.

And with my last bit of energy, I
tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

A Note from the Author:

If "How Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly "owned" pets who die each year in American and Canadian animal shelters. Anyone is welcome to distribute the essay for a noncommercial purpose, as long as it is properly attributed with the copyright notice. Please use it to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all sp
ay and neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals. Jim Willis
I know here in Tenerife the rescue centres don't put dogs down, but the way its going with the rescue centres filling up so quickly maybe they will have to change their policy.

I know the recession has meant that a lot of people unfortunately have had to leave Tenerife because they just can;t find work and have no choice but to give their pooch up. But as Jim Willis said and I agree, why can't humans put aside a contingency plan for the furry members of the family they are dependents as well ..!

As Live Arico says "Dogs are for life not just for Tenerife" To damn right they are ...


  1. When people move to Tenerife, the should think carefully about getting an animal and how long they are going to stay there. Too many English get an animal and then decide to go back to the UK after a while and realise how expensive it is to take an animal back, so try to find an alternative home of a lot of the poor animals end up in a refuge. It is very expensive to take an animal back to the UK and sometimes it can go into the thousands.
    You wouldn't leave your children behind and an animal is just like a child and part of your family. Please think very carefully!!!

  2. This brought a tear to my eye as i know of so many dogs that have been abandoned over the years of living in Tenerife and it makes me want to just grab the people who do it and shake them as its not the poor dogs fault... i will be sending a prayer out tonight for all you lonely dogs ... dont give up hope as someone will come along for you one day x

  3. I am not a weepy person but that has crucified me..................

  4. my dog is my friend.probably the most loyal one i will ever in san miguel i walk her everyday around town, and always see stray dogs,too terrified to accept a friendly hand or food & water.its heartbreaking.where will it end?

  5. Ohhh !!! should never of read this , this early in the morning , sitting here in tears as i comment . Why Do People do these things ?! my dog is my life !! Shes been part of it for 13 yrs and along with my other 2 who have passed to Doggy land in the sky . they all traveled here with me 7 yrs ago . ,, I want to do more than shake the people who have pets as a passing interest ! then dont give any though to what happence next , I often wonder if some kind of Pet Register ownership( Like registering a birth)would help ! I say this often Karma will always demand payment !! but in the mean time Thank You to all the people who DO CARE AND DO EVERYTHING they can to help make a difference to these poor animals .

  6. Thank you all for taking the time to leave a comment...The idea of a compulsory Pet Register ownership is an interesting suggestion..

    And as everyone has said how could some people give their dogs up so easily, your pooch is your friend surely and a member of your family..

    If its absolutely necessary and there is no other way out but to give your dog away at least give plenty of time too finding another loving home for him or her, that's the least they deserve for there loving devotion.

  7. So so sad....I have shed a tear as I do regularly at the thoughtless actions of so on Amarilla Golf we listen daily to the barks and cries of the many many dogs at the refuge. I am feeding the strays who "live" on the land here..3 puppies just produced from them but fortunately found and rescued..again by Live Arico. My 2 oldies...13 and half..born and bred in Tenerife..have travelled to the UK and back here again over their years as a much loved part of our family and that was in the days of quarantine...the costs were astronomical but could I have abandoned them back then...of course not they are the babies of the family ..still even tho they´re old and grey and now sporting many health matter the financial cost they are just as high on the list as the humans in our family for whatever needs to be done. I despair of those who cannot feel the same but believe that those like us can only do what we can for those dogs and other animals who are not as lucky ....what a world we live in XXX

  8. Thank you for the "How could you" story.
    I work closely with abandoned dogs here in Tenerife, and that story is oh so true.
    We see the hurt,the uncertainty, the bewilderment in the animal's eyes every time they are handed in or when we collect the unwanted pooch. It is time that people realise that animals have feelings. You cannot just discard them when the novelty has worn off. THEY ARE NOT TOYS.... So to all of you out there thinking about having a dog ..... Be sure you are willing to be part of that animals life for the duration of their life.