Dogs are children who never grow up.
They will never help out around the house or do chores. They will never cook you dinner or take out the trash. They will never move out and get their own place.
On the plus side, you're not ever going to have to pay for college or a big fancy wedding.
Probably. We know some of you are freaks.
The point is that dogs are always going to be dependents, and just like your human children, you need to make sure they are safe. We know that there are different parenting techniques and that social norms change over time. Fifty years ago people were happy to let their children run unsupervised from dawn to dusk as long as they were home for dinner. Today, that isn't acceptable for humans or canines.
Times change and what it means to be a responsible (pet) parent changes too.
Let me tell you two stories. They are very different, but the common theme between them is honoring our obligations to our dogs--and the fact that both of these stories could have ended in tragedy. (Spoiler: the dog lives.)
Once upon a time there was a single woman, tall and strong. She adopted a dog and they lived happily ever after...for several years. One day the woman fell down the stairs (or had a stroke or was stung by a murder hornet or fell getting out of the bathtub...you get the point) and she was unable to care for her dog. The woman lay cold on the floor and her dog laid down next to her, getting up occasionally to piss and shit all over her house.
How long would it take for someone to notice that you weren't around? In today's world, how often do you see anyone in person? How long would it take for your facebook friends to notice you weren't posting--and when they did, what could they do about it? The important question is who has a key to your house and how long would it take that person to notice if something happened to you?
What would happen to your dogs? If a facebook friend in another state asked the police to do a well check on you, what would happen? If your friend with a key found you unconscious, what would they do with your dogs?
You need a plan. Both a temporary one and a permanent one. Here's your cheerful thought of the day: What would happen to your dogs if you die? (Hint: make sure your emergency contact has the number of the group your dog came from.)
The happy ending to this story is that our single mom always has a virtual coffee date with a friend every morning. When she didn't show up her friend reached out to her dogsitter. (Because your emergency contact and your dogsitter should always know each other!) The dogsitter had a key and stopped by the house. She found the mom on the floor, put her dog in their crate and called an ambulance. Mom was whisked away to be made better and the dogsitter took charge of their 4-legged child. Everyone was completely and totally okay. The dog sitter even cleaned up the mess!
Our second story is about a dog-crazy couple with a happy, well-adjusted pack. They lived in a far away land with a big, gorgeous yard with a tall, safe fence. As their dogs got older they needed to go out more often so they put in a doggie door. This seemed like a great idea that made life easier for dogs and humans. Until one day it didn't. One day their older dog was running the yard and tripped and broke his leg (or caught his shoulder on a low hanging tree branch or ran into the corner of the deck...or got into a fight with one of his packmates.) The injured dog laid down in the snow, turning it red with his blood.
How long would it take you to notice that he didn't come back in from his potty break? If you're working at the computer, deep in thought, did you even notice when he went out? That's kind of the point of a doggie door, isn't it? Is the convenience of not having to let your dog out worth the risk of not knowing when your dog is out?
The happy ending to this story depends on one of his parents hearing him cry out. In this version they weren't listing to music or in the middle of a zoom call and they ran out to check on him right away. They carried him into the house and cared for his wounds (just a small scratch--that damn thin Greyhound skin!!) and he was completely fine.
But our lives aren't all fairy tales. Sometimes we don't get the happy ending. Sometimes dogs end up in high kill shelters when their humans get sick and sometimes dogs end up dying alone in their own yards when their humans aren't there.
Yes, I am paranoid and no, I'm not working on it. I've decided to embrace my paranoia and spread it to as many people as I possibly can.
Tag! You're it.
Have a backup plan. Have a backup plan to your backup plan. If you wouldn't put a toddler in the situation, then don't leave your dog there either. Because your dog is not just your furry baby, they are your responsibility.
Dogs are our children who will never grow up...
…And cats are roommates who never pay rent, but that's a story for another day.