Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: When’s the Kickoff

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dog Adoption and Children

As many of you may know we are on a list with a Sheltie Rescue to add another Sheltie to our family. As we've been going through this process several family and friends have also been working with different rescues to look for a new companion for their families. All shelters and rescues have their own rules and restrictions. Some go across the whole rescue, others are dog specific. One that has struck me recently is the raising of the age restrictions for children when adopting. We don't have children, so this doesn't effect us, however, it does effect others we know who want to adopt. It is also concerning because it has the potential to turn away people who would otherwise considering adopting from a shelter/rescue rather than looking at a breeder.

I am going to use the terms shelter/rescue interchangeably for this post. For this post the mission statement of rescuing dogs and placing them in forever homes is the same. The methods used for the points I'm trying to make are not as important as they might be in other discussions.

Now, I will say I can see why rescues have some issues with children and rescues. Bailey is a prime example of what can happen in families who don't understand the challenges of children and puppies. My understanding of Bailey's back story is he was purchased from a breeder as a puppy at the time the couple had a baby at home. I suspect the couple thought having the dog and baby grow up together would be a great idea. Having the equivalent of two babies at home proved to be too hard and Bailey was turned in to New England Sheltie Rescue. That being said I've also known several couples with young dogs and babies who still have the dog well past the baby years. I doubt it was easy, but they also had experience with dogs and knew the challenges that would come with a dog who had needs similar to a young child and a human baby totally dependent on parents for its needs.

One of the things that has disturbed me recently, as I've looked at listings for myself and family members is seeing the child age restrictions on dogs available for adoption. Some are clearly a result of screenings and those while sad are hopefully accurate and done to make sure that the dogs will be in a healthy and stable environment. You don't want a dog who will react or bite children and then face the consequences of an action that could have been predicted and prevented. However, recently I saw a shelter with a statement across the board that they will not adopt to homes with children under 12!!! It doesn't mention any dog specifically, just any home. Another I looked at stated no adoptions to homes with children under 10. I find it hard to believe that every dog brought into an all breed rescue, which these two were, is dangerous to all children. Others seem to be more reasonable and deal with a case by case basis, one had a restriction of age six for children.

My issue honestly is that I am constantly reading articles stating we need to push people to adopt, not buy from breeders. One of the largest pools of people who want dogs are families with kids. If we exclude them, those who can afford it will turn to breeders.

I do understand that for the rescues their first obligation is to the dogs. They need to find homes that are safe, stable, and secure for their dogs. Homes with children can be risky. While children can provoke a dog, harm a dog, and create problems for a dog, the dog ultimately ends up being responsible for any negative interactions.

However, there are families who can and do take in dogs and do very well with them. Not all children are monsters as these restrictions imply. Some dogs love kids and shouldn't be prevented from having the opportunity to be a family dog because there is a risk involved. There have to be some better options for screening potential adopters.

While many rescues are requiring obedience classes, perhaps prior to adopting families need to do some dog safety classes with their children. Parents could learn some of the dangers their little ones pose for the dogs and some techniques for preventing these negative interactions. One of the best ways to prevent negative interactions between dogs and kids is to anticipate them and decide how to prevent them from happening. Even if you have owned a dog before, owning a dog with children can be a very different concept. As an adult you interact very differently with a dog than kids do and seeing how to change those interactions to a safer atmosphere could save an adoption from failing. Those who have adopted since having kids could perhaps just do a screening.

Another thing I think would help are more community activities that promote healthy interactions between dogs and kids. Even if a child never owns a dog, knowing how to interact with one appropriately could cut down on injuries to dogs and kids both. At the various fund raising adoption events we attend every year in the kids area, having activities that teach, encourage, and remind kids how to behave with and around dogs could be very helpful not just for potential adopters but for kids who live around dogs. I can't tell you how many times I've had to instruct parents and children how not to grab my dog's face or tail. Thankfully, Bailey and Katy are very sweet dogs, but I am hyper vigilant when children are near because lots of kids don't know how to treat a dog. I can see why this would make rescues nervous, but education is the solution, not exclusion. Kids who grow up with rescue dogs are at least inclined to think about the idea when they are old enough to afford one.

I also know that rescues have a great deal on their plates. Adding more is not easy. However, excluding a large population of adopters does not make the process any easier. Children and dogs can make a placement more challenging, but it can also change lives. Dogs can be an important part of childhood. They can also make a rescue dogs life.

I guess my point with this long winded post is education not exclusion. Rescues are always going to have some dogs that have specific exclusions, not being with other dogs, cats, children, etc. It is important for a successful placement that these exclusions be made. However, I find it hard to believe that the majority of rescue dogs can't handle children. There have to be ways to better prepare families for the challenges of managing dogs and kids under the same roof so that all survive and thrive.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Bailey Keeps On Suprising Us All

Mom got a shock the other day while snuggling with Bailey. She found a lump on his tummy. She's been waiting to find tumors. After all everyone told her they'd come. Bailey had made it through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, even New Years, and then there were lumps. His annual appointment, which nobody thought he'd ever need was just a few days away, so Mom worked to calm her fears knowing the Vet would have answers then.

Poor Bailey had to endure 5 needles Saturday. Not only did he have a lump on his tummy, but the vet found two others. The vet aspirated all three lumps and Bailey went on to endure the shot for rabies and the blood draw for heart worm. To add insult to injury he also had the meds up the nose for kennel cough. It was not an easy day. The vet being the amazing vet she is, did the tests right then and we got results right away rather than having to wait until Tuesday when regular office hours resumed. The growths were similar but different to growths Bailey had before. They are not tumors but fatty deposits. She measured them and noted them in his chart to keep track of any future growth of them. However, Bailey still shows no signs of Lymphoma. He has even gained another 1/2 pound since his last weigh in. He's almost to his goal weight and we are cutting back on the steroids again.

Bailey may turn 13 in March. Mom's Baby Boy may actually be a teenager. That was something we hadn't even considered when this all hit in the fall. We ask for your continued prayers.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year

We are finally getting things back to normal after Mom and Dad got us off schedule at Christmas. We did get our big Christmas celebration in on Boxing Day. Santa did come and we have pics we will share later this week when Mom finds them. Mom and Dad also had one of our favorite sheep visit for a New Year's celebration.

Mostly we've been busy taking care of Mom and Dad. They are feeling better, but it's been so busy that it we have to make sure they rest. You have no idea what kind of trouble they can get into.

We hope you all are having a wonderful start to the New Year.