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  • Dan FitzPatrick

Do Not Discard


With the weather improving and all the humans seeming to be much happier now that many no longer wear those pieces of cloth on their faces, Logan and I are starting to get visitors again. Just recently, one of the female humans in our family came home to visit from where she lives far away in a place called Colorado. That’s when we first met Adobo.


Adobo refers to himself as an “American melting pot mix.” He is part Mastiff, part German Shepherd, part Australian Cattle Dog and part various other things. His colors and marking are like a German Shepherd, but his ears do not stick up and his head is more like Logan’s and mine in dimensions. He is not even a year old, so he is very much still a puppy. He is a very kind looking dog and fun to be with. Logan and I call him Dobo.


Dobo is a rescue dog. At first, Logan and I thought that meant he was some sort of first responder like the local GEMS ambulance operators, but Dobo explained that the humans who had been with him when he was born for some reason did not want to keep him, and he had been placed in a shelter for homeless animals. Fortunately, this Colorado place has what he called a “no kill” policy, and the humans there try very hard to find new homes for all the animals placed in the shelter. That’s where the female human in our family found him and brought him home to live with her. Dobo is very happy in his new home, and Logan and I can tell she is very, very happy with Dobo. It’s a good story, and Logan and I hope we will have many more visits from Dobo and his human.


A few days later, Logan and I were sitting in our favorite spot in our yard enjoying the sights and sounds of a beautiful spring morning and discussing the state of the world, when our conversation turned to Dobo’s recent visit and his story of being a rescue dog.


I mentioned to Logan that I thought it was terribly sad that humans would abandon their pets to these homeless shelters, where some of them might actually be killed, just because they were unwanted. I asked him why they would do such a thing? Logan agreed and said, “There are a number of common reasons, but I’m sure that in almost every case it is a very difficult decision.”


“Sometimes humans simply aren’t aware that their female pets are pregnant, and are unprepared, emotionally, financially or otherwise to incorporate more pets into their lives. Sometimes they acquire a pet only to find that they are unable or unwilling to accept the responsibility that caring for that pet entails, especially as the pet grows up, gets sick or grows older. Unfortunately, this happens a lot during the holidays, when pets are often given as gifts. And sometimes they realize too late that the particular breed of pet is not right for their lifestyle – for example, the pet is too big, or too active or needs a lot of exercise or attention.”


Sometimes – and this is very, very, sad – the humans fail to take proper care of their pets or even abuse them. In those situations, it is fortunate that these shelters exist because they provide a place for these pets to go where there is some hope that they will be adopted by more caring and loving humans.”


“My uncle Charlie once told me a story he heard from his uncle Buddy about a dog named Boo who had been adopted from one of these shelters by relatives of our human family. Boo had been abused in his former home and had serious trust issues. It took quite some time for him to feel comfortable with his new surroundings and family, and he had a few instances of bad behavior, including one with a neighborhood cat that earned him a week in home confinement. But eventually he adapted, and his relationship with the youngest male human in that family was a joy to behold.”


“I learned from Charlie that humans have many of these issues too, and that they also adopt young humans into homes where they can be safe and loved. In fact, he told me an amazing true story about a human family named Sweeney who lived just a few houses down the road from where we sit today. As Charlie related, a medical problem led the eldest male and female to think that they could not have any more children, so they adopted one from the human equivalent of a shelter. Apparently (and I am amazed at the thought of this), over the years there were more children to be adopted than families willing to take them in, so the human shelters would ask the Sweeneys to adopt again, and they did -- over and over and over again. They were willing to adopt children regardless of breed or health, and they kept doing so even as they were having children of their own. In the end, the Sweeneys raised a total of 18 children in that big house down the street!”


“So, I agree with you, Cadbury, that the idea of pets or humans being unwanted is tragically sad. But the good news is that there are humans who are willing to take them into their homes and lives and give them the care and love that they need. It is best not to judge anyone for their actions or motivations in giving up their pets or children. We cannot truly know their hearts or their circumstances. Instead, we should celebrate the fact that there exist in this world people like Dobo’s human and the Sweeneys who are willing to turn a situation of sadness into great joy. They are real heroes, the “first responders” of hope. And we have seen with our own eyes, in the case of Dobo and his human, that the rewards of those actions and the relationships that they create, are nothing less than wondrous.”


“Now, let’s take a break from all this deep conversation, and enjoy a little nap in this gloriously warm sunshine.”


[The Sweeney family’s remarkable story is told in the 1981 book “Patchwork Clan: How the Sweeney Family Grew,” by Doris Lund (https://www.amazon.com/Patchwork-Clan-Sweeney-Family-Grew/dp/B004H3J7D2). The Sweeneys gained one more child after the book was published!]


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