Unless you have been living in a cave this week, you know the Obama family has their dog. While I agree with those who say this is not a newsworthy event, it was a nice respite from the from the unremitting grimness of the news. In my veterinary practice days, it was always fun when folks came in with their new pups ( 0r kitties). So congratulations and best wishes to the Obamas and Bo. Long and happy lives together.
But for a happy event there certainly was no small amount of crankyness and criticism, as noted in this article , and this one for example. Here’swhat PETA had to say. The complaints run the gamut from accusing Mr.Obama of breaking a campaign promise and thus proving his unworthiness for the presidency to disappointed animal rescue people.
I wish that all those people from shelters, and humane societies, and rescue groups, and purebred breeders and PETA could have set aside their narrow political agendas and used this event for the greater good of dogs. But even the “dog world” has it’s politics.
Yes, it would have been nice if the Obama’s had gotten a dog from a shelter. But realistically those sorts of good intentions don’t always work out. But honestly you need to choose the dog that will fit in best with your particular situation.
You can get a wonderful dog from either a shelter or a breeder and you can make a mistake at a shelter or with a breeder. (And by the way, when I say breeder I mean a responsible breeder not a puppy mill or what is sometimes termed a backyard breeder. )
We seem to have forgotten this week that successful dog/human relationships depend on thoughtful consideration about an individual dog- what the dog needs for a happy life and a particular person or family- what they have to offer. Too often we choose a pet for all the wrong reasons. We choose a dog for societal approval- “I rescued him from a shelter” -look at what a wonderful, caring person I am OR “It’s a fill in the blank rare breed, there’s only 500 of them in the US” -look at how unique and special my dog makes me. Now I know I’m being too harsh with that last sentence. But it happens, we turn our pets into objects that make us feel better or special.
Instead of turning this into animal shelter vs breeder and mutt vs purebred, what if we had used this opportunity to talk about the importance of people taking pet adoption seriously? This past week was a true “teachable moment” to talk about responsible pet ownership. Having a pet is a significant investment in emotion, time, and money. There are significant emotional and physical health benefits to pet ownership. What a great chance to talk about the human companion animal bond. There were lots of important and positive things we could have been discussing this week.
Why weren’t we celebrating the wonderful relationship between humans and animals?
Did you see the smiles on the faces of the Obama girls this week?
Enjoy your dog girls.
For those of you interested in the topic of tolerance, check my older post on “Tolerating Intolerance” . There is some new conversation about tolerance from another blogger.