Babies First

"I writing to you for some help with a jealous greyhound. First of all let me say that it is all my and my husbands fault. We are now at our wits end and need some suggestions. We adopted Sweetheart about 3 years ago. She has been the love of our lives and until we had our first child (18 months ago), she was our baby. But of course, with the birth of a child, everything gets shuffled and the amount of time spent with Sweetheart has diminished. She is a very good girl, very good natured with our son and has always been well behaved. Besides having a child, my husband's work scheduled has changed leaving even less time to spend with the dog. I think my husband was Sweetheart's first love. I think that between work, children and household chores, Sweetheart has become more of a burden than a love. She's constantly underfoot,Êbegs for food, rips any kind of plastic bag (when we're not home) and if we forget to put up the gate, she will poop in our son's room. I could understand having an accident if she were sick, or even if she had accidents often, but she will only poop in his room if we forget the gate and if we're not home. I can't even remember the last time she came upstairs, never mind messing in the house. Please don't take this as a letter to return her because that is the absolute last thing I want to do, I just need some suggestions as to how to handle these situations. We now have baby number 2 on the way and I'm afraid it will only get worse. I understand that when we adopted her we adopted her for good and bad. I also understand how difficult and traumatic it can be to return a dog. I DO NOT want to do this, but I need some suggestions as to what I can do. Please help. Thank you."

This is an actual email I received recently.  It is the kind of email I dread.  Unfortunately it is a perfect example of one of the major reasons dogs are returned to the kennel.  Regardless of how many times we talk to potential adopters about the problems with adopting a dog prior to having children, most people insist that they can handle it.  But when the babies do come along, we inevitably get that call or email from the family in distress.  There are several things of interest in this email.  First, is that the dog was adopted prior to the babies.  Second, the husband's work schedule has increased.  Third, the email came after a year and a half of problems.  GAS had received no prior request for help from the family.  By the time they contacted us, the story is summarized in the line, "Sweetheart has become more of a burden than a love."   What a sad state of affairs for the dog to have gone from the love of their lives to a burden.

 DOGS NEED TIME AND ATTENTION FROM THEIR HUMANS.  I can not emphasize this enough.  New babies take up time leaving very little over for family pets.  Some pets need less attention than dogs.  But greyhounds or any canines who have been the center of a couple's lives, will have difficulties adjusting when they are no longer given the attention they need.  Granted, babies are not the only reason that people have less time for their dogs.  Changes in work situations which also occurred in this family contribute as well.  Even if the family makes it through the infant stage, in  toddlerhood we come into another big area of problems.  Imagine this scenario:  the toddler picks up one of the dog's squeaky toys.  The dog grabs it out of the child's hands nipping little fingers in the process.  What do the parents do?  Return the dog because it bit the child.  Whether the dog was responsible for the bite or not, the result is the same.  People do not want to chance another, perhaps worse, bite.  When we get the dog back, it is branded as a biter which we must divulge to any potential adopter.  It probably wasn't a bite out of viciousness.  Lack of parental supervision, however momentary, was the likely cause.  It was the proverbial accident waiting to happen, yet it is the dog who gets the blame and suffers in the long run.

  At Greyhound Adoption Service, we have to deal with the returned dogs.  We try to soothe them when they are confused and depressed by being separated from their family and home.  We coax them to eat when they have no appetite.  I can tell you, it is heart wrenching.  To all couples planning families who are looking to adopt a greyhound, there are some considerations on behalf of the greyhounds that you need to keep in mind.  Dogs are not practice babies.  Sometimes, the dog is placed in the roll of surrogate baby.  Young couples who want something to nurture before they are ready to start a family, often seek out dogs.  The decision to adopt a dog does not seem to include what will happen to the dog when the human babies come along.  For the sake of the dog, you must be clear and honest with yourselves about why you are considering adopting.

Some people are able to work out babies and dogs.  But far too many are not.  The people who wrote the above email are trying to work it out, and I thank them for allowing me to share their email.  It will be no easy task for them to rectify the problem.  You can read how emotionally difficult it is for them to contemplate returning the dog.  As much as we don't like to see greyhounds returned, sometimes it is in the best interest of the dog to be placed in another family.  Perhaps the saddest part of this situation is that it is preventable.  There are right and wrong times in life to take on the responsibility of a dog.  Before you consider adopting a greyhound or any other canine, please think it through.  You need to see how the life span of the dog meshes with your life's plan.  If there are potential conflicts, please err on the side of compassion, and do not adopt until the conditions are right.  It will save both the dog and you a greyt deal of heartache.

  by Deborah Schildkraut