Welcome to Touchy Topic Tuesday!!! Feel free to join in this discussion! I want your opinions AND experiences! (Rememeber to play NICE!)
For Lilly's second birthday, back in 2007, we decided to get a dog. Mahone was only 8 months old, and we were planning a 2 year break from pregnancies. It seemed like the perfect time. Brandon had been re stationed at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, and we had a back yard with a 5 foot chain linked fence.
Sprocket, our new little cockapoo puppy, was house broken within a few days of constant, watchfulness by me, he loved our children, and things seemed to be going well.
Until a few months later when we were faced with Brandon's soon-to-come re-enlistment. We wanted out of the military so that Brandon could start school, which was the reason he had enlisted in the first place. Unsure of what the future would hold, and knowing that the insurance would never be better than the military's (3 children, all costing ZERO dollars in doctors and hospital bills) we decided to forgo our plans to wait two years for another child, and have one more while the military would pay for it. Scarlet was planned. But it was an unexpected plan.
Soon, Scarlet was on her way, and I got very sick. I had two children to look after, Alabama was sweltering hot, and our lovable dog began to be extremely naughty.
When let outside to do his business, he would immediately hop the 5 foot fence and take off running, which meant that I had to chase him. Doing this with a 2 year old and 9 month old baby in my house was out of the question. I could not take off running across the vast neighborhood of military housing leaving my toddler and infant behind. Not to mention, it made me vomit to run, since my morning sickness was pretty severe. I'd have to load my children up in the car and go looking for him each time. It was very time consuming. We couldn't leave him outside when we went places- which wasn't a lot of places, since I've been a SAHM since my children were born, but we did go to church, and we had to get groceries. Within a few weeks of being locked in the laundry room on occasion (because he couldn't stay outside for jumping the fence) he had dug through the drywall, and there was a big hole in the wall. He chewed on everything, and destroyed several pairs of shoes, some furniture, and many toys- despite his abundance of bones, balls and chew toys. More than that, he was like some kind of new breed of pig. If there was mud, he was IN it. Daily baths were a pain I had to endure.
I realize that this could have been partly my own fault. At first, I felt wonderful, and i had the time and energy to play with my dog while I played with my children. But having decided to expand our family, I was so sick, my children were the only ones I spent any effort on. My dog was fed, watered, and let out when he needed, but my children were not old enough to be responsible for his playtime. And Sprocket, himself, was only a few months old. He was a puppy, and he was just doing what puppies do. But I couldn't handle it. He irritated me beyond belief and that irritation often overflowed to my children. It was magnified by my sickness.
With much discussion, and many tears, we decided that we needed to get rid of our dog. There was a Humane Society a block away, but we preferred to find him a good home. It didn't take long, and we gave him to a woman with 8 foot brick fences, 3 teenage children, and another cockapoo dog for $200.00. (We bought him from the pet store for 900.00, and since he was only 5 months old when we gave him away, and already had his shots, she felt that 200.00 was a fair deal.) She sent me a few pictures of him in his new home with his new family, and all was well.
Until I hopped onto a forum I had joined because there was a group of women who were due at the same time my new baby was. I vented about this, because I felt awful, and like I let my children down, hoping that someone would offer condolences, and maybe tell me I'd made the right decision for my family.
Instead, I was greeted with literally scores of backlashes, insults and reprimands. I was shocked to find out that my personal plight, where I felt I had done the right thing, was such a hot debate. I was new to the message board world, i hadn't yet started blogging, and I did not know that people were so blatantly stone cold.
One woman accused me of child abuse (I have NO idea how THAT subject came up) and reiterated something that i had mentioned in a previous post: That I wanted at least 7 children. She asked me if I was going to sell my children when I 'tired' of them too. I was baffled. I didn't think that my dog would ever rank so near my children. A family member yes, the same as my child, no.
There were near 6 pages of "Shame on you!"'s and "You shouldn't be allowed to be a mother!"'s
Only one person on the entire board, in the entire 6 pages of insults, stood up for me. And she was raised on a cattle ranch in Texas, where she was regularly involved in the processes that come with it.
I quickly found a new message board after that, and though I found that there was still consistent controversy, I was not the center of it. Through the rest of my pregnancy and until Scarlet was 5 months old, I participated in conversations with other women, which helped me through all the insecurities of pregnancy. But when Scarlet was 8 months old, I saw a series of posts that shocked me once again.
A long story made short (because I've already taken a long time here) there was a woman who had a dog (and Bingo was his name oh! Oh...wait...) and she also had a son who was not quite 3 years old at the time. She also had a daughter that was within days of Scarlet.
Shortly after adopting their dog, her son became deathly ill. He was admitted to the hospital with rashes, breathing problems, lethargy, and many other maladies. If I remember correctly, he was in the hospital for near two weeks before he was 'better' and they sent him home, only to have him return days later with worse symptoms.
Throughout all of this, they eventually figured out that her son was allergic to their dog.
Now, to ME, the obvious answer was to get the dog OUT. OF. THE. HOUSE.
Instead, this woman kept her near 3 year old boy in his room while she tried to find a new home for the dog. She refused to take her to a Humane Society because she LOVED her, and couldn't bear to think of her in a place like that (while her very young child remained shut in his room and the dog roamed the house freely.) I did not participate in any of these conversations because i knew that since I didn't agree with everyone, who seemed to be supporting her decisions 100%, it would only cause problems.
Now, I do understand this feeling. It was painful for me to give my dog away too. But what got ME into trouble was, when two weeks later, she hadn't found a home for her dog, and she announced on the forum that she would never be speaking to her mother again, that she was cutting herself off from them and that they would never see her children again.
The reason? her parents would not take her dog. How could they DO this to her, when she was so worried about her poor dog going somewhere awful? (Nevermind her son...)
I was banned from the site because I mentioned that she should probably not be too hard on her parents. If they had wanted a dog, they would have gotten one already. It seemed to me, maybe her son needed HER more than she needed the DOG.
Once again, i was shocked when near 50 women defended her, and turned on me. Apparently, I was wrong. And I was banned from the forum for it. And I swear on my own grave that I am not exaggerating. There was no conversation from me beyond that comment, no argument, no mean words from my side. I was banned before i could defend my point of view or comment back on any of the lashing and flaming that ensued. And there was a lot.
My question is, exactly HOW human should a dog be treated?
I do not believe that people should flippantly adopt a pet and then drop them off without remorse at a pound or abandon them to wander the streets uncared for. Obviously a pet is a lot of work and that puppy (or cat, or bird, or frog or whatever) should be treated with care and love. Perhaps i was wrong to give our dog up so quickly. Maybe I could have tried to cable him into the yard. Maybe I could have just sucked it up and dealt with what is obviously what a dog DOES. But I found him a good home with people who loved him. And he wasn't making my children sick.
I believe FIRMLY that pets are very much a part of the family. I hope my dog Hunter lives forever, because I will be heartbroken when he is no longer around. But if something happened, and he was sick, or hurt very badly, I am not sure our family could afford extensive surgeries, or ct scans or anything. For a CHILD, it goes without saying that we would go into massive debt if it were to save her life. As a matter of fact, we've been-there-done-that.
But for an animal? I know it would be a torturous decision, but euthanizing the poor soul might be our only option. I would not put our family into serious debt for an animal. What if it were YOUR child and YOUR dog that weren't compatible? What if your child were allergic to your dog? What if your dog was violent, or prone to biting? Would you keep your dog? Would you find it a new home? What would you do?
At what point does YOUR family become more important than your pet?