Random Musings on Dogs, Photography, and the Vagaries of Life

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Three Strikes and You're...Home?

Staff at the Humane Society of Kent County (MD) sure hope that's so for Momma. This sweet girl does indeed have three strikes against her: 1) she's black, 2) she's a pit bull terrier, and 3) she's 9 years old. Life for a homeless dog doesn't get much worse, statistically, than that.

First, there's the color thing: Folks in rescue will tell you that black dogs (like black cats) are less likely to be adopted from shelters than their lighter or flashier-colored counterparts. And if they're BIG black dogs, their chances are even smaller. Reasons for this situation, often referred to as "Black Dog Syndrome," range from a link in myth and legend between black dogs and evil and death to their "scary" image in horror movies to the fact that they just aren't as noticeable--especially in poorly-lit shelters--as other dogs.

Age can also be a big factor in an animal's adoptability. People often want the experience of raising a puppy (little realizing the headaches that can involve) and may worry about not having as long a time together with an older pet. But the truth is that older dogs offer many advantages: they almost never require housetraining, are more mellow and less demanding than their younger counterparts, require less vigorous exercise, and are more likely to be content just "chilln'" in your company. And the satisfaction that comes from giving a senior canine a happy home in which to live his or her "golden" years can be incredibly rewarding.

When it comes to breed--pit bull terriers, to be specific--well...don't get me started. Basically, pit bull terriers and pit mixes face extraordinary discrimination...probably more than any other breed of dog. And, yes, there are "bad" pit bulls--the result of intentional breeding for aggressive traits and inhumane, cruel treatment at the hands of people (although I haven't seen any laws "banning" them!).

But it's just as true that not all aggressive dogs are pit bulls. For example, the French face transplant victim was mauled by her Labrador retriever. An elderly Georgia woman was killed by her mixed-breed dogs. A family's briard killed their 8-year-old daughter. And golden retrievers--golden retrievers!-- attacked a 2-year-old in Kansas. The list goes on and on, although such attacks often don't make the headlines.

And just as some pit bull terriers are aggressive, others are gentle, loving, docile dogs. Take Momma for example. This sweet senior is described by shelter staff as "friendly, calm, easy going, and good on a leash." Oh, yes, she also loves hanging out with friends and being scratched behind the ears.

Nevertheless, this good girl has been at the shelter since last November. And although the staff are happy to care for her--and shower her with attention, treats, and "walkies"--for as long as she's in their care, Momma's future is tenuous at best. By law, the Humane Society of Kent County must take in every stray they find or owner-give-up that's turned in to them...limiting the number of animals the shelter can house at any one time.

And that means Momma's luck could run out at any time.

So, please, if you live in Maryland or a nearby state, and have a place in your heart and home for this special dog, call the Humane Society of Kent County at (410) 778-3648 or toll free at (866) 661-7387, or email them at kenthumane@yahoo.com. Shelter staff will even arrange transportation!

Momma thanks you!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Three Dogs, One Home

I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of days recently with my friend Sandy and her canine kids. As with human children (and adults as well, for that matter), dogs have distinct personalities...complete with a unique collection of likes, dislikes, abilities, phobias, obsessions, and accompanying behaviors. In short, they are individuals.

If I had to describe Sandy's furred family members in once sentence, I might say the following:

* Jocey is a gentle, affectionate, water-loving Queen Bee.

* Petey is a slightly neurotic, unpredictable boy who is never voluntarily without his round-shaped "pacifier."

* Oscar is a lover, not a fighter, who likes nothing more than a good cuddle.

I doubt you'll have any trouble matching the descriptions to the dogs' images above.