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Too Busy for the Dog?

By Immydog
I was having lunch the other day, and a woman at another table, knowing the animal lover that I am, asked me for help with her son's dog.  Her son's family has a small dog, but their kids were older now and were too busy for the dog.  They are trying to find their dog a new home with people that have more time for it since it is not fair to the dog to keep it.  So far, they have had no luck.  Did I have any ideas?
After sitting and brewing for a few moments.  I responded... as gently as I could.
"Unfortunately, getting rid of the dog will only teach the kids that pets are disposable.   They should really think about whether that is the lesson they mean to convey to the kids in the household."  The woman thought about it, nodded her head, and gave an accepting smile.
"I hadn't thought of that." she said in revelation.  Her face revealed an honest moment of enlightenment rather than insult.
I proceeded, "I don't mean to sound rude or blunt with that response, but it's the truth, and it is very difficult to find any dog a new home.  Our shelters are full."
My hope is that this revelation led to a discussion with the family.
The truth is that most families are too busy for their pets.  We are constantly running one direction then the other, from one event to another.  The responsible action is NOT to rehome the pet that you committed to when you brought it home.  The responsible action to take is to set aside specific time for the pet.  Create a family schedule and commit to it.  Reaffirm your commitment to a family member whose choice is to remain with the only family it has ever known.
As a parent, offer the choice of caring for the dog or dropping an event such as basketball practice or favorite TV show to make time for the dog. It may not be the easy choice (for the child or the parent), but it is the responsible choice. If our children can learn loyalty to a team, or dedication to an organization, they should also know that a pet also requires loyalty and dedication. Parents should not be exempt from the pet care schedule, nor should they be solely responsible for it.  Parents are the ones that gave permission for the pet to become part of the family.  There are proven benefits for children to have pets, including teaching them the importance of dedication through difficult times. 
Our younger generation needs to be made aware that an animal is a family member for life.  The commitment was made when you brought that puppy or kitten home.  That pet plans to see you every day for its entire life.  It knows nothing else.  It has made the commitment to you for life.  It expects nothing else.  If you cannot make time to give the animal its care, then something must be dropped from the schedule.  The something that must be dropped should not be something that depends on you for life and that is capable of loving you, and missing you when you abandon it.  The basketball, the television, these items will not miss you, and they will not die without you. 
Rehoming a pet should be reserved for dire circumstance.  It should not be a casual decision made out of convenience. 
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