An Old Pet is NOT a Used Smart Phone

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Surveys of people who have surrendered their pets to animal shelters reveal many reasons for their decision.

Some chose to surrender only after an agonizing assessment of their situation. Often, a clear and present danger to others is the catalyst.

My wife and I were heartbroken when our then three year old Boston terrier-Boxer mix, Louie, began fear-biting six years ago. When none of our behavioral interventions worked, my wife knew there was but one solution. We brought him back to the agency where we’d adopted him knowing full well that a rancher was ready to take him in and give him the space he needed. We miss him, but we know he is much happier now than he could have ever been with us.

Too many other people, however, surrender for reasons that reveals their total lack of forethought:

  • “My career is taking off and I just don’t have the time.”
  • “We’re pregnant and can’t take the chance that the dog will be jealous.”
  • “We’d planned for mom and dad to live with us and we’re worried that Charlie will get underfoot and trip them.”

Others surrender for reasons that reveal their complete lack of commitment: pees on the Persian carpet, tears up the furniture, a pain in the ass to train. Blah, blah.

The topper for me is when someone decides that their dog or cat is, well, just too old. They can’t stand the idea of their home becoming a hospice ward smattered with pee pads and vomit stains on the hardwood.

Read: they can’t tolerate being reminded of their own mortality. They shun the previews into their decrepit selves 20 or 30 years from now in favor of reclaiming a false sense of youth. Shockingly, some people who turn in elder animals turn around and adopt, buy or keep a much younger pet!

Tracy has been loyal to her humans for more than a decade. Now, she struggles to pad her way across the living room. She needs to be lifted into her human’s lap and may accidentally leave an annoying stain behind. Tracy’s people are calling the vet every week to report this problem and that. She’s confused; her synapses are not firing like they used to.

Rather than watch as Tracy loses her grip on reality - and her innards - her humans dismiss her from their lives much the same way they would turn in an old smart phone for the latest model.

Turning Tracy in for a new pet does not give her humans more “bandwidth.” Rather, her humans display a most vile form of conspicuous consumption. To these “humans,” Tracy enjoys no more status than an outdated smart phone. Not enough memory. No more fun. Out she goes.

In life, we all want some kind of “upgrade.”

Perhaps it is a smart phone with a wrap-around screen and higher resolution.

That’s fine.

Just remember: a pet is not a smart phone. You can’t in good conscience “upgrade” to one with more “gigs” or a less-sensitive “touch screen.”

By holding on to the “model” you have, by loving her into the twilight of her life, you will tap into more than your search engines could never reach.