communication, condescending twatbags, dogs, Germany

Pre-emptive and defensive bitchiness is not the best advertising strategy…

This morning, as I was waking up to a brand new day, I scanned Facebook and noticed a post by someone in the local pet group. She has a ten year old Jack Russell terrier that she wishes to rehome. She wrote that the dog is good with kids and other animals, but has allergies that require medication. Fair enough. But then I saw the last sentence of her ad, and it kinda gave me pause…

We are looking to re-home our 10 year old Jack Russell terrier. She is great with kids and other animals (we have two cats and two children). She is house trained and super sweet. She does have allergies and requires medication. Gets motion sickness in cars. And please don’t pass judgement if you don’t know the reason why she is being rehomed. I don’t have to explain my reasons and get approval from anyone.

Um… first of all, people are going to pass judgment, and they are going to infer things. You can’t avoid it, even if you say “please”. And secondly, when you pre-emptively leave a defensive comment like “I don’t have to explain my reasons and get approval from anyone,” you kind of put off a difficult, bitchy vibe. I would hesitate to contact the person who wrote this post, because based only on that post, she doesn’t seem like a pleasant person. She’s asking people to consider taking in a dog who is already ten years old and has a couple of issues. She’s the one who is asking— other people aren’t necessarily clamoring to take the dog. In the long run, she may actually be doing someone a huge favor by offering them her dog, but at this point, she’s the one who needs help. She should probably consider that fact and behave accordingly.

I’m sure she has good reasons for rehoming the dog. I truly do try not to judge people who need to find new homes for their pets, unless they are egregious assholes about it. Every single one of our dogs in the past twenty years is with us because they were rehomed. And every single one of them has been wonderful, unique, and loving. Each one has enriched our lives immeasurably and taught us new things. We’re better off for having shared life with them.

I don’t consider someone inherently bad or guilty simply because they can’t take care of a pet. Shit happens. Sometimes, rehoming an animal is the kindest and most responsible thing a person can do. But when a person ends their request to rehome a pet with a pre-emptively defensive statement, it’s a bit of a turnoff. I don’t think it helps her case.

On the other hand, I can understand why someone would make a pre-emptively defensive statement like that one. People– especially in our overseas military community– can be immature and judgmental. Drama erupts for the stupidest of reasons, and that can have terrible effects on one’s mental health and self-worth. Believe me, I know about this firsthand. But if you’re asking someone to take your ten year old dog with allergies off your hands, and you leave a hostile statement demanding that people don’t “judge” you before you explain yourself, you kind of ask people to judge. And believe me, they will… whether you like it or not. But maybe some will skip leaving rude comments, even if they’re thinking them, or blogging about them. 😉

I’m not in the market for a new dog at this point. We still have Arran and Noyzi, although Arran will likely be crossing the Rainbow Bridge before too long. I don’t know when, or even if, we’ll be looking for a new dog. Given that we don’t know when we’ll be leaving Germany, and the high costs and hassles of moving pets, we may decide that one dog is enough for now. But if I were looking to take in a new dog, I would probably see red flags in the above ad. Because I think if you’re asking someone to take in another living creature, you really need to be upfront and honest about why you need to rehome them. And your attitude should be one of hopefulness, rather than defensiveness.

We had an experience about nineteen years ago with a woman who had found a cute little hunting beagle on the side of a country road. She named him Flea (after Fleagle, the dog in Banana Splits), and offered him for adoption through a beagle rescue in Northern Virginia. This woman lived near Richmond, Virginia, so the dog she was offering for adoption wasn’t really known by the people at the rescue, who were mostly in the DC area and Maryland.

Flea had been found in Chester County, very flea and tick infested and sick with heartworms and Lyme Disease. The rescue had given the woman money to treat Flea for his infestations. She had gotten the Lyme Disease treated, and had the first part of the heartworm treatment done– a labor intensive affair that required an overnight stay at a vet hospital and a month of crate rest. However, she neglected to bring him back for the second part of the treatment. She never told us that she didn’t get the second part of the treatment done. That was totally shitty on her part, since the second part of heartworm treatment is a lot less painful and invasive than the second part is. It just consists of the dog taking a big dose of ivermectin, or a similar drug, to kill off any baby worms that survived the first part of the treatment. My guess is that she was either too busy, or needed the money for her own purposes. Sad for Flea, and for us.

We adopted Flea, and at the time, we were pretty broke ourselves. We did have him tested for heartworms, and the test was positive, but the vet said that sometimes dogs might still have positive results right after they get treated. She wasn’t concerned, so we didn’t worry about it.

We still have that couch, complete with stains made by Flea when he had cancer.

After we’d had him for a few months, we decided that Flea badly needed a dental. And he REALLY did– his teeth and his BREATH were atrocious– when he finally got a cleaning, four teeth fell out completely on their own. Fortunately, the vet tech at the hospital where we were going to have the dental done noticed that there was no record of his ever completing heartworm treatment. She called the animal hospital where the first part of the treatment was done, and they verified that the treatment was never completed. Sure enough, he was still very infested with heartworms. Going under anesthesia to have his teeth cleaned could have killed him.

Flea and MacGregor loved Germany, too.

We tried to contact the woman who had rescued Flea. She ghosted us. We contacted the rescue. Bill, who is usually very mild mannered, was very upset. We had just lost our first rescue dog, who came from the same rescue, to a mysterious and rare mycobacterial infection. We’d only had him for sixteen months when he died. Now here was Flea, heartworm positive, and us with no money to get him treated. We had been led to believe that Flea was cured, and now we felt “lied to” by this rescue. I think our vet quoted us about $850 for treatment, which at the time was prohibitively expensive for us. Bill was extremely pissed, and understandably so.

Fortunately, the rescue was willing to pay for Flea to be treated at their usual vet hospital, located some distance from where we lived. They were wonderful about coordinating the treatment, and we got him all fixed up.

Flea and MacGregor in Germany, circa 2008 or so. Flea is the one not looking at the camera.

We had Flea for six years, and he was an awesome character who was even more temperamental and crotchety than our sweet Arran is. Flea was certainly difficult at times, but I adored him, and I never once regretted taking him into our home. We brought Flea to Germany the first time we lived here, and he helped us break the ice with our neighbors, because he loved their toddler aged son. He was exceptionally good with children; especially little boys. One day, he saw their child and moaned as he strained to go meet the child. That was when they started talking to us! Flea was a true canine ambassador. Their little boy even named his stuffed dog “Flea”.

Flea and MacGregor with Bill in our first German house, back in 2008 or so.

I think Flea would have lived longer if he hadn’t had untreated heartworms for so long. Ultimately he got prostate cancer, which was diagnosed by our old vets in Herrenberg (Germany), and like Arran, he proved to be quite a fighter, lasting four months with just palliative care. We brought him back to the US with us, and he died two months later in Georgia. A month after that, we adopted Zane, whom some of you know. But imagine what Flea could have achieved if his heart hadn’t been damaged, or the woman who rescued him had leveled with us and, at least, told us that he’d only been partially treated for heartworms. We could have had him treated sooner, and he might have been with us for longer than six years.

God, I miss these two… they were such characters! MacGregor, in particular, was a star!

I’m not saying that the person offering up her dog is definitely or deliberately being dishonest. She probably has perfectly valid and reasonable reasons for rehoming her dog. But making a comment like, “I don’t have to explain, and I don’t need approval” makes me think she might not be as honest as she should be, and has an attitude that might make asking about the dog difficult. That could mean unpleasant surprises, like the one we discovered in Flea. Or worse, maybe she’s the type to smile as she hands you the leash, then ghosts you when problems arise. While pre-emptively making a statement to forestall negative comments and judgment is understandable, especially in the military community, it also raises some red flags that would warn me to steer clear. Just sayin’.

Aside from that, there are already enough unpleasant interactions to be found on social media. I don’t need to have one in person, too. I think those who know us, know that we try to take really good care of our dogs. But I wouldn’t contact someone whose very first communication to me is one that is bitchy and defensive, even if it’s a post for everyone to read. I would hope this lady would consider that protecting her ego is less important than finding a really excellent home for her dog to spend her last years, hopefully never to need rehoming again. It’s the least she can do.

dogs, silliness

Sugary grits and old dogs…

First thing’s first. I don’t like sugar on my grits. To me, they are a savory food, not a cereal. I cook them in salty water and serve them with salt, butter, and maybe a dash of cream. Do NOT put sugar on my grits, and don’t tell me they’re cereal. Fuck that noise. Some people like sugar on their grits. I like sugar in my coffee and on grapefruit, but not in grits. And some people like cheese in their grits, but I’m a purist. Spare me the cheese and sugar, please.

And do not give me instant grits.
No self-respecting Southerner uses instant grits!

For the record, we order grits from a farm in South Carolina. They are delicious, and they take about 20 minutes to make properly. We always cook them in salty water so they won’t be too bland. And we never put sugar on them because they aren’t Cream of Wheat or oatmeal!

Alright… now that I’ve gotten that out of my system…

This morning, someone shared a picture of a 13 year old male Labrador retriever who needs a new home. I don’t know why the dog needs a new home. I would hope it’s not simply because his family got tired of him after 13 years. I like to think these dogs wind up in shelters because of situations beyond the family’s control.

When ads are shared for old dogs who need new homes, invariably there are indignant responses from total strangers who have a knee jerk reaction to another stranger’s decision to rehome their pet. I guess I don’t blame them. It would be very, very hard for me to come up with a reason to willingly part with one of my pets. But then, all of the five rescue dogs I’ve had have eventually turned out to be wonderful friends and family members. It’s always tough at first, integrating a new family member. I remember that Flea, MacGregor, and Zane were all especially challenging when we first got them. But I don’t regret taking in a single one of the five dogs we’ve had so far. They’ve all been blessings, even though it was hard in the beginning.

Flea was fully matured, but he’d been a hunting dog and no one had properly housetrained him. He was also very alpha and was neutered late, so it took awhile before he got into the routine of being a pet with basic manners. But he did eventually get the hang of being part of the family and blossomed when we got MacGregor for him to boss around. We had Flea for six years before we lost him to prostate cancer.

MacGregor was still pretty much a baby when we got him. He was mostly physically mature, but he was kind of akin to being a teenager. It took a few months before he stopped destroying things when we were out of the house. Fortunately, he was the smartest of all of our dogs, and he caught on quickly. Although he was scared of anyone he didn’t know, he was a wonderful pet and we enjoyed him for 8.5 years before a spinal tumor took his life.

Most recently, we lost Zane. I remember seeing Zane’s picture and thinking he reminded me of Flea. But he wasn’t that much like Flea at all. Zane was a very intelligent, sweet, smart, and smart-assed beagle who kept things running. He did later take on some “Flea-like” characteristics, but he was definitely his own dog. Like MacGregor, he was in his destructive chewing phase when we brought him home. That “teen” phase was also the only time in his life that he was ever aggressive. He and MacGregor would sometimes fight over food during the first months with us. But they eventually became great friends and bonded. When we brought Arran home, Zane and Arran got along great until Arran picked one too many fights.

The other two rescue dogs we’ve had– CuCullain and Arran– were both fully grown when we got them. CuCullain (CC), our blue eyed beagle-husky mix, was probably the best behaved of all of them, but unfortunately, he got a rare mycobacterial infection and died after just sixteen months with us. We still have Arran, who was also once destined to be a hunting dog. He’s loving being the only dog, but he’s had his issues, particularly with being jealous of Zane and not being as faithful about housetraining as our others have been.

Every single one of these dogs once belonged to someone who couldn’t keep him anymore. They all wound up in rescues. And Bill and I were very blessed to have them in our lives. If it hadn’t been for a previous owner deciding to give them up for a chance at a more appropriate home, we would not have had the pleasure of knowing any of these dogs. I remember Arran was adopted by someone who brought him back to the rescue after nine months. I’d like to think the lady who initially took him tried hard to make the situation work. She’d kept him for nine months, after all. But, for some reason, it just wasn’t feasible for her to keep him. She did the responsible thing and brought him back to the rescue, where I found him while grieving MacGregor’s death. Now he’s with us, and couldn’t be happier.

Just like a woman who has late term abortion almost always does so because of extreme situations, I like to think people give up their old dogs because they have to. I know there are many exceptions, and I’ve heard of people throwing out their old dogs so they can get a puppy. But I like to think that’s not usually why people do this. Unless there is evidence to the contrary, I try to assume the person has fallen on hard financial times, is sick, or otherwise has been forced into a living situation that makes keeping the pet impossible. And if it turns out the person is the sort who would callously toss out an old friend like that, I like to hope that the dog will have a better chance with someone else… even if I do know that old dogs are usually the last ones chosen as new pets.

Maybe it’s not realistic to think this way, but it spares me from getting depressed about how shitty some people can be. I don’t think it’s helpful to shame people who rehome their animals. Truly callous people won’t care what other people think, while the ones who are doing it out of necessity will only feel worse about what must be a difficult decision. And really, I think it’s best for pets to be with people who actually want them and don’t resent having to take care of them. So… when I can, I try to be compassionate about those situations. I figure it does no good to get angry. The focus should be on finding that animal a good home.

As for Bill and me… I’m not sure when a new dog will come into our lives. I want a new one, but I don’t yet feel ready. Maybe after the holidays, we’ll consider it. A lot also depends on whether or not we stay here another year. I think we will, but it’s hard to tell how contracts will go. Also… I worry about how Arran will take it. He’s a very sweet dog, but he does get jealous and possessive. And frankly, after having landlords who clearly disliked my dogs, I think I’d kind of like to wait until we have our own house and don’t have to answer to anyone else about our lifestyle. Fortunately, our current landlords aren’t as intrusive or judgmental, and they actually like dogs.

If you’re looking for good grits, Palmetto Farms has them. I am an Amazon Associate, so I get a small commission when people make purchases through my site. I’ve been eating Palmetto Farms grits for years now, and they never disappoint.