I created this page in order to help people understand that the decision to bring a pet into your life is not to be taken lightly. It is a lifetime commitment. Animals are living, breathing creatures and when you bring one into your life you are responsible for that animal’s care through out its lifetime. They need water and food, proper training and socialization, proper housing and medical care, and most of all they need love, care and companionship. They need you in order to live a long and healthy life. Animals are not disposable. Too many are winding up in shelters and rescues due to people carelessly getting a pet then deciding later it’s too much care or they don’t have the time or it’s not what they expected or wanted. Before you make the decision to bring a pet into your life, please think long and hard about if you have the means to give the animal a good and loving forever home. Pets will love you unconditionally and they deserve the same in return.
Do I Go Home Today?
My family brought me home,
Cradled in their arms.
They cuddled me and smiled at me,
And said I was full of charms.
They played and laughed with me.
They showered me with toys.
I sure do love my family,
Especially the girls and boys.
The children loved to feed me.
They gave me special treats.
They even let me sleep with them,
All snuggled in the sheets.
I used to go for walks,
Often several times a day.
They even fought to hold the leash,
I'm very proud to say.
They used to laugh and praise me,
When I played with that old shoe.
But I didn't know the difference,
Between the old one and the new.
The kids and I would grab a rag,
For hours we would tug.
So I thought I did the right thing,
When I chewed the bathroom rug.
They said I was out of control,
And would have to live outside.
This I did not understand,
Although I tried and tried.
The walks stopped one by one.
They said they hadn't time.
I wish that I could change things.
I wish I knew my crime.
My life became so lonely.
In the backyard on a chain.
I barked and barked all day long.
To keep from going insane.
So they brought me to the shelter.
But were embarrassed to say why.
They said I caused an allergy,
And then kissed me goodbye.
If I'd only had some classes,
When I was a little pup.
I wouldn't have been hard to handle,
When I was all grown up.
"You only have one day left,"
I heard the worker say.
Does this mean a second chance?
Do I go home today?
HOW COULD YOU? by Jim Willis, 2001
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 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 then 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 to spend 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 disappoinments, 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 so infrequent -- and I would have 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 responsibilty, 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 that it was you and that you had changed your mind -- that this was all a bad dream... or I hoped that 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 seperate 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 a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days.
As in 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 in my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid cursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?".
Perhaps because she understood my dog speak, 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. 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 love and 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 a composite story of the millions of formerly "owned" pets who die each year in American and Canadian animal shelters. Please use this 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 responsibilty 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 spay and neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.
Please pass this on to everyone, not to hurt them or make them sad, but it could save maybe, even one, unwanted pet.
Remember...They love you UNCONDITIONALLY.