I enjoyed lunch over the past few days with dear friends from the Dallas area, who are enjoying a little time at their condo at Lake of the Ozarks. These folks are among the most grounded people that I know, with an uncanny way of seeing reality in a world where the narrative is seldom reflective of the truth. These folks, like us, are huge dog people, currently sharing space with a real world rescue Pomeranian, literally saved from certain roadside tragedy after being abandoned miles from anywhere. From time to time, Sharon and I consider adopting a rescue pup, from a shelter, and are careful to avoid looking many of these unfortunate guys in the eyes when we bring in big bags of dog food, old crates and toys that our Lab, Tazm, has outgrown. Their existence is a tragedy evolving from human indifference, and should one of us win the lottery, there will be the damndest dog sanctuary that you have ever seen, built in vain, as the problem of unwanted, casually discarded pups has no end. In spite of this, build it we will.
Our friends asked us if we had considered adopting one of these pups. Of course, we have, as we have seen many beautiful relationships formed with pups that would have otherwise languished in a shelter. This being said, if given a choice, we prefer to carefully consider pups with great bloodlines, raised by breeders we have placed a high degree of confidence in. Each of our Labradors trace their existence to one of these breeders, where we have observed both the stud and dam, and who have provided great dogs to us in the past. Our preference is compounded by a strong love for Labrador Retrievers, a breed uniquely suited to cohabitation with it’s human partners. I suppose we are dog snobs, not so much because of breed preference, but more so because we have never been disappointed by a Lab. To be sure, there are any number of breeds available, one to suit the preferences of virtually everyone in the country, from bird hunters to police K-9s, suited to apartment dwelling or requiring vast expanses to run and burn off energy. It is the Chevrolet/Ford conundrum, except it has four feet, fur and personality. I was an active bird hunter, once upon a time, and strongly preferred the German Shorthaired Pointer, for reasons that would require another lengthy discourse, and with the understanding that I have shot birds over many fine setters and long legged English pointers.
As I mulled over the considerations attendant to my preference for some degree of control and predictability with what amounts to a constant companion for 10-15 years, it occurred to me that every dog is potentially a rescue pup. I am convinced human beings that take on the responsibility of owning, nurturing and sharing your existence with a pup, needn’t feel guilty for preferring the better odds of a wonderful relationship with a known quantity and breed characteristic. Just as it is with the very human tragedy of unwanted children, it is with dogs, we cannot possible save them all and both purebreds and mixed breeds deserve the best existences possible. Who is to say that our beloved Tazzy, might not have been acquired by some hard nosed owner who took him home and tied him to a barrel outside? High social standing and great wealth are not barriers to the mistreatment of any dog, purebred or of unknown origin.
Pictured below is Tazzy, in costume, greeting kids on Halloween.
I applaud those that have the personality and adaptability to roll the dice and bring home a furry friend with not much more than a half hour get acquainted session at the shelter. We are just a little more methodical and seldom go anywhere without Tazm. He likely will never spend many nights away from us, a fact that is useful only to illustrate our association with dogs. We are dog people, to an extent that would appall any number of otherwise reasonable folks!
As I write this piece, Tazzy has been busy emptying my shoe shine bag, one brush and one polish rag at a time and bringing the items to me in the office, at the other end of the house. He is grinning, in a dog way, as he retrieves these items, bent on pleasing me with these treasures. This is a hard characteristic to check for at the shelter.
Any agreeable pup of any breed is welcome in our home. Where he is “rescued” from is simply not important to us.
God bless all dogs and those that care.