An interesting thing about being judged

Once you reconcile to the fact that you will be judged, to your face and behind your back, then the only questions become,  1) is the person doing the judging cognizant of all the facts? and  2) is the person doing the judging a peer to whom I must answer?

I wanted to record here, for posterity, an e-mail I received from a total stranger. In an attempt to judge me behind my back, Lori accidentally posted the comment to my e-mail address only. Ohhhh the horrors of e-mail. Can’t snatch ’em back, can’t delete them, they’re out there forever. And, once a message is sent to an address, the recipient owns it.

Lori’s accidental post to me read, “Why is Marsha still on HSOV   I think a Anyone that DUMPS their own dog at the shelter should have their name reMoved. Sent from my iPhone”

When I let her know her post had come just to me, and informed her that the adoption agreement I signed with HSOV 2 years ago stated that Blue must be returned to HSOV if she didn’t work out in my home, I received this judgement from Lori ….

“Marsha, I’ve not met you, you’re correct in you don’t know me. I did know who the email was from, it was obvious from your blatant advertisement regarding agility training at the bottom of it. What I didn’t realize was that you were the ONLY person I was replying to in the email.

I’d like to clarify what it is that bothers me.  I know what the contract says and you’re right…you did as the adoption contract requires, for that I applaud you. However, I also know that EVERY animal that comes out of that shelter is hoping to find it’s “FOREVER’ home, not a home that will keep it until ‘something better’ comes along as in the case of the dog you returned.

I have had dogs that fight, I have been bitten numerous times by dogs I foster or my own when they were in a fight. They still have forever homes, I would no sooner ‘return’ or give up one of my dogs than I would a child that has ‘issues’.  I take the time, and have the patience to work through the issues unless they are ‘unworkable’ (I’ve had only one that was unworkable and it was a foster that ate it’s 9 week old babies and tried to attack me when I went in to remove the last living baby). 

As a trainer, I would have thought you would have been willing to work through whatever issue you felt Blue had and if you couldn’t then you should have sought the help of a trainer that had the experience to work through it. If I were looking for a trainer for my dogs (I’m not, I already have an excellent one) I would not use one that I knew returned their own dog because they couldn’t or wouldn’t work with it.  I had heard that Blue had many certificates in agility which also makes me wonder even more why he was ‘returned’ as he obviously is a very intelligent dog.

Again, it’s just my opinion, I speak only for myself.  But I don’t feel that someone who adopts and then returns an animal to a shelter is stable enough to adopt again, nor be associated with the group they represent and returned their dog to at the same time.  If your association with the shelter is monetary, I’m sure they’re grateful for your donation, if you spend hours volunteering, I’m sure they’re grateful for your help. Please continue both donation and hours as the HSOV needs that kind of help.

 Shelters and rescues need the animals to go to forever homes, not have a revolving door back to them…it’s too expensive in emotional commitments and money and time to not have adopters you can count on for forever homes.

Just for my own closure I’m going to respond to a few of Lori’s points in this blog posting. I hope to address some of my disagreements with commonly-held beliefs, and also some of the social graces lacking in today’s youth. To repeat Lori’s letter, interrupted with my insertions this time …

“Marsha, I’ve not met you, you’re correct in you don’t know me. I did know who the email was from, it was obvious from your blatant advertisement regarding agility training at the bottom of it. What I didn’t realize was that you were the ONLY person I was replying to in the email.

Time to get out the directions for that Blackberry, huh?   Yes, advertising is blatant. And I’m guilty of advertising. We run a business.

I’d like to clarify what it is that bothers me.  I know what the contract says and you’re right…you did as the adoption contract requires, for that I applaud you. However, I also know that EVERY animal that comes out of that shelter is hoping to find it’s “FOREVER’ home, not a home that will keep it until ‘something better’ comes along as in the case of the dog you returned.

Anthropomorphism at it’s finest. Dogs hoping for forever homes. The resting place of the purist. Well, sorry, but my 13-year-olds were hoping to get to retire without being beat up every day. My dogs were hoping to not have Blue’s teethmarks on their muzzles.  Most troubling in this is Lori’s contention that I kept Blue until “something better” came along. She’s ignorant of the fact that Blue was going to be my agility and obedience dog. That no one could replace her. I’ve no idea what other dog came along to displace Blue. Right now I’m without a performance dog.

I have had dogs that fight, I have been bitten numerous times by dogs I foster or my own when they were in a fight. They still have forever homes, I would no sooner ‘return’ or give up one of my dogs than I would a child that has ‘issues’.  I take the time, and have the patience to work through the issues unless they are ‘unworkable’ (I’ve had only one that was unworkable and it was a foster that ate it’s 9 week old babies and tried to attack me when I went in to remove the last living baby). 

Lori doesn’t get real specific here about just what happens to her foster dogs (must assume she doesn’t keep every foster) or dogs that eat their own babies. Either she does work through every issue or she does not. It sounds as if, at some point on the continuum of behavior, Lori chooses to cut her losses and remove the dog from her home. If she fosters she may even choose her own pack over the foster dog, putting the good of the many over the good of the one. We’re left with more questions than answers.

As a trainer, I would have thought you would have been willing to work through whatever issue you felt Blue had and if you couldn’t then you should have sought the help of a trainer that had the experience to work through it. If I were looking for a trainer for my dogs (I’m not, I already have an excellent one) I would not use one that I knew returned their own dog because they couldn’t or wouldn’t work with it.  I had heard that Blue had many certificates in agility which also makes me wonder even more why he was ‘returned’ as he obviously is a very intelligent dog.

Blue was a “she,” so I’m even more convinced than ever that Lori has never met Blue and is making a blanket judgement on me without getting all the facts. Dog trainers are no different from other dog people. Just because we train dogs doesn’t mean we’re more able to maintain a stable of fractious, dangerous dogs. My belief is that Blue’s perfect, “forever,” home is waiting out there for her. Keeping Blue put my pack at risk and kept her from ever finding the perfect home. Whether Lori feels I’m a poor dog trainer is of no consequence to me. In my heart I know I do what I can, more than most folks, to ensure that dogs are healthy, cared-for, loved, and cherished — whether they’re in my home or in a student’s home.

Again, it’s just my opinion, I speak only for myself.  But I don’t feel that someone who adopts and then returns an animal to a shelter is stable enough to adopt again, nor be associated with the group they represent and returned their dog to at the same time.  If your association with the shelter is monetary, I’m sure they’re grateful for your donation, if you spend hours volunteering, I’m sure they’re grateful for your help. Please continue both donation and hours as the HSOV needs that kind of help.

An interesting bit of adoption information is that “open adoptions,” as practiced by many shelters including HSOV, are designed to eliminate just this sort of judgement on adopters. The rule of thumb for shelters is this — you adopt a dog or cat and, if it works out that’s perfect — if it doesn’t work out please return it to us so we can try again. The most important lesson I’ve learned in the last 20 years (and clearly a lesson Lori has yet to learn) is that there is no home that is perfect for all dogs, and that there is no dog that is perfect for my home. There are project dogs, there are lovely dogs, and there are dangerous dogs. Each relies on a situation to create either bad news or good news.

Open adoptions are designed to ensure that dogs are not dumped on back roads, shot in the head, or confined to a pen for eternity. Open adoptions allow people to give a dog another chance, in another environment, in  another home, without being labeled “unstable.”

So Lori considers me unstable, though is willing to back-pedal and accept, on behalf of the organization for whom she clearly does not speak, my donations of time and money.

 Shelters and rescues need the animals to go to forever homes, not have a revolving door back to them…it’s too expensive in emotional commitments and money and time to not have adopters you can count on for forever homes.

Again with the blanket statements. All warm and fuzzy, with no real content. Blue went to the Ohio Cell Dog program, to be trained by an inmate who may have a life-changing experience with this brilliant little girl. This inmate may decide that his or her life is worthwhile, that improvement is possible, and that the future holds promise. The people who adopt Blue from the program may provide her with the one-on-one home life Blue so needs. Blue’s brilliant obedience and agility behaviors may influence them to continue her training, thus moving them into the world of “dog people.” Hopefully all this will happen without the judgements of the ignorant and/or pure.

The final message with which I’d like to leave the Lori’s of the world is this … before you judge someone  1) put yourself in their shoes,  2) decide if you’re really qualified to judge them,  3) examine your own life,  4) determine if this is how you would wish to be treated, and  5) be as kind to people as you would be to an animal.

In the end we’ll all be judged on how we treated others in our lives. Were we kind?  Did we do unto others as we would have them do unto us?  Were we encouraging, or did our holier-than-thou attitudes create a sense of anger or inferiority in others?

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One Response to “An interesting thing about being judged”

  1. sligo Says:

    good god…I have to wonder how old the person ragging on you is. It’s impossible to state that you’ll never have to give up a dog, due to its inability to find its place in your pack. Should you make all the dogs in your house suffer so as to make the claim that you never give up? Feh.

    It’s human to judge others but the older I get the more I try to cut people a lot of slack before I do. In this case if she had known the situation she should have known that it was nothing that needed her (badly voiced) opinion.

    It is my opinion that people should not keep dogs just so they can say that they did so. If it’s not in the dog’s best interest, or that of the other dogs in the house or the humans, the dog needs to go.

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