Every day people come into the Douglas County Animal Shelter looking for the perfect dog. While we do have some perfect dogs we also have a lot that aren't. These dogs are just like people. Less than perfect.
Many of our dogs are the product of irresponsible people, who do not spay or neuter and allow their dogs to breed. Then the people who get the adorable puppy, possibly for the kids, discover that a puppy is a lot of work. There is housetraining, interacting, exercising, socializing with people and other dogs, and obedience training. When they realize what it takes, the dog normally gets dumped in the yard.
And every time the owner goes out to feed, they reassure themselves that they did the right thing. After all, doesn't the dog go wild when they come out, jumping on them, getting them dirty and even scratching them.
These people just don't get it. First of all the dog is a social pack animal, and even though you have only two legs you are part of its pack. Secondly a dog is like a child, it needs training and guidance so it can become the best it can be.
These people always wonder why other people always have the great dogs and theirs are always a problem.
Then one day the wind blows the gate open and the dog gets out. After a small amount of guilt the main feeling is one of relief ... "good, that's out of my hair."
Some of the dogs the shelter gets are actively abused. They come in with scars, old injuries that have healed badly, terrified of people, kids, other dogs, have chains imbedded in their necks, or are dog aggressive from being chained and defenseless to roaming animals.
The variety of ways that humans can think of to abuse animals is endless.
Then there are the poor old dogs that are suddenly found wandering down a street alone. When they come into the shelter we see age related medical issues that the owner had not wanted to deal with. It may be eye problems, bad teeth, tumors or cysts. The look in the eyes of these poor sad creatures is enough to break your heart.
They are so lost. They can't seem to figure out what happened to their family. The lucky ones end up in a temporary foster home. Of which there are very few.
The rest are in a kennel in doggie prison. No matter how you a shelter is, and how hard the Douglas Animal Welfare Group volunteers try, it is not a home.
However, what the group can do is to evaluate the needs of each incoming dog, and then get it help.
It might be training, or medical attention, or socializing, whatever the need is we try to meet that need. Everything that DAWG does helps, but it is still not a home, and the dogs are still "Less than perfect." However when they find a responsible, loving, caring, involved permanent home that will give them the security they need they do become the Perfect Dog.
So many wonderful people have already come along to adopt from the less than perfect group. So we could provide many testimonials about how great these dogs are now. But there are always more of these dogs needing families.
So please open your hearts and homes to our "temporarily less than perfect" residents who have been at the shelter for such a long time. You will find it is a very rewarding experience.
Please call 267-7325 and make an appointment with a DAWG volunteer who will assess your wants and needs and bring you to meet your new, soon-to-be-perfect, best friend.
n Cherie Owen is a founding member and former president of the Douglas Animal Welfare Group.