We got a phone call the other day. A woman wanted to know if we would take her parent's dog who is around 4 years old. Both of her parents had recently passed and she said she simply couldn't keep caring for "it."
The dog is a Blue Heeler - not neutered, no shots - who lives outside in a kennel. He has lived in the kennel since he was a puppy. "He is very wild and barks all the time," she said.
She went on to tell me that her parents kept him outside because he was just too much of a puppy when they first got him and he just never calmed down. They did not take him outside the kennel. "They were elderly and he was too much for them to handle to go on walks."
I asked if she was interacting with him. "Oh yes, I pet him every day. I feed him."
Blue Heelers are working dogs; they typically need a job and exercise, and, as do all dogs, plenty of interaction with humans. So now we have a 4-year-old dog who is unsocialized, has no manners, is conditioned to living in a kennel and has no clue how to walk on a leash. His adoption chances are not the best.
This is an example of why the Animal Protection League and other shelters and rescues work so hard to try and fit the pet with the people adopting and their lifestyles.
Blue Heelers are adorable puppies and this is one of the reasons so many are drawn to them. But if you do not understand the breed, these folks quickly realize that their adorable puppy is all grown up and not quite so cute as he is jumping and tearing around the house like a nut. More often than not these pets end up relegated to the back yard or in shelters.
These particular folks missed out on the companionship that a pet can offer simply because they did not adopt a pet who was more suited to them. The poor dog has led, up to this point, a less than happy life because his owners were overwhelmed by him. Hopefully we will be able to find this guy a home or rescue who understands his needs and he can thrive in his new home and live a happy life.
Please do not choose a pet on how it looks - it is more important that the personality and size compliments your lifestyle. It is essential to understand the personality traits of particular breeds so you can make an informed decision. Once this happens it is also essential to commit to this animal for his entire life.
Yes, we understand even after taking the time to make a responsible decision, it sometimes doesn't work out. But the odds are higher if you are clear on what you are willing to tolerate, what you can handle and the needs of that particular pet. This way chances of everyone being happy — pet and human — are much higher.