Pound Pooch

diary of a shelter worker.



I have an inside dog. I grew up in an age where inside dogs were the norm. I grew up in a city, in a nice area, where people kept their dogs inside. People didn't have the perception that they had "space" for their dogs to run. They were concerned about their neighbors hearing their dogs bark, and they were concerned about their dogs getting hit by the city traffic.

I now live in a more rural area. Shelter strays often come to us due to lack of proper confinement. I have lost track of how many times I have heard people tell me "we don't have a fence, but [insert dog's name here] has never left before." Many dogs come in with electric fence collars on, as if this will stop them from chasing a particularly juicy squirrel, or as if the collar works with dead batteries. At least half of the strays and owner surrenders that I get history on are "outdoor dogs." They sleep in the backyard, they live in the backyard, they never get walked out of the backyard. When their owners get barking complaints, the dogs get surrendered to us. The owners do not want to hear that boredom, frustration, and just plain bad habits might be at the root of some of this backyard barking. Keeping a dog in the yard is "the way that it is done."

We get calls daily of roaming dogs that kill chickens, chase cats, attack leashed dogs, wander into schools, are in the middle of the road. When we go to send them home, we find out that their confinement is a 10 foot chain connected to a tree, or a shed, or a doghouse, if the dog is lucky. We encourage them to build a runner, so that the dog is safe from tangling himself up. While this is safe confinement, it still seems sad to me. A dog living its life on the end of a metal clothesline. Hopefully the owner puts up shelter for days like yesterday- thunder, lightening, hail.

Not every dog is going to sleep in the bed, like mine. Many people still believe dogs have to work to earn their keep. But I think the majority of folks are caught somewhere in between- they believe their animal should be a loyal family pet, that their children can grow up with (and never be bitten by). On the other hand, they don't want to or know how to put the work into training, socializing, sheltering, and managing this dog so that he is prepared to do his job: staying close by, and behaving appropriately as a loyal family pet.


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