Well readers, I know I promised in my last entry that the next entry would be about my internship experience. But in light of an event that happened last week, I couldn’t get inspired to write about internships. So the entry after this one will be about my internship, but I need to use this entry to set straight a lie I told in the early days of this journal. Actually, it’s not an outright lie, but you could call it a lie of omission. You see, in the beginning of this blog, I wrote a profile of Indy, our pet German Shepherd that died when I was in seventh grade, and a profile of our cat Snickers, who will turn eleven on June 20 but is still as feisty as ever. Then I wrote a profile of my brother’s dog Mojo whom we adored and loved to dogsit. In that entry, I remember writing that we did not have a dog of our own because we couldn’t find one that we felt was suitable to our family. Well, this is true, but what I neglected to mention was that for six months, we did adopt a puppy, but had to return him to the humane society as he had serious behavioral issues we couldn’t handle. I didn’t want to share this experience at the time as it was still a source of sadness, and a little bit shame for our family and I could tell my parents weren’t wild about me putting it on the internet. But in light of the event last week, I feel it is time to share this experience to clear my conscience. This dog deserves to be mentioned and to know he was loved even if we couldn’t handle him. And, sharing this experience might provide comfort and reassurance to any readers who happen to stumble on this blog and are going through or have been through a similar situation.
So here is a letter I felt inspired to write to this dog whom our family named Kelso. I am also going to post it in the Note to Dog community, so for those of you who have both my journal and this community on your friends page, I apologize for the redundancy, but I felt that this entry should be in both places.
So without further ado, here is the long overdue tribute to Kelso.
Do you remember me? My sister and I were the ones standing outside your cage at the humane society over eight years ago begging and pleading with Mom to adopt you. We had lost our beautiful, loyal German Shepherd six months ago and so desperately missed being greeted by a wagging tail when we got home from school or hearing a watchful bark when the doorbell rang that we fell in love with you on the spot. You were very mischievous, and I still remember being in the viewing room of the humane society with Mom trying to get you to settle down, to no avail. We were a little concerned, but figured that you were just being a typical puppy and we just weren’t used to puppies anymore, since by the time Indy died, she had been moving slow for a while because of arthritis.
But once we got home, it soon became clear that your behavior was not typical puppy behavior. We noticed some aggression, and you were eating so many unusual things my mom feared you would be seriously injured or killed if you got hold of something one day when we didn’t notice in time. You would bark all hours of the night from your crate, and you could be playing outside for hours without relieving yourself, only to come in and relieve yourself in the house.
Sure enough, my mom did some research and discovered that the behavior you displayed is characteristic for puppies taken from their mothers too young. We read some training materials and tried some tactics. But despite our efforts, it wasn’t long before I was afraid of you, and since our family didn’t have the time to give you the intensive training you needed, you spent most of the time locked in your crate. One day a little over six months after we had adopted you, Mom greeted me soberly at the school bus and told me she had returned you to the humane society. It should not have come as a surprise, as we had all realized we were not the right home for you for quite some time, but every day when I got home from school, you were still there as Mom couldn’t bear making that final decision. I only made her agony about this decision worse by accusing Mom and Dad of giving up on you. After all, though I don’t know the specific details about what happened to you before you came to the humane society, I do know it wasn’t your fault, and by returning you, I felt like our family had betrayed you. Besides, as much as I was afraid of you, I missed the presence of a dog in the house so much that I wanted to hold on to the hope that maybe you could be trained to overcome your trauma and become a beloved pet like Indy was. So when my mom greeted me at the bus that fateful day, I cried for two days.
We never adopted another dog after returning you. The whole family was so emotionally drained we didn’t feel like we could handle another dog. But when we needed a doggie fix, my brother would bring his dog Mojo to visit. Remember him? You didn’t play nice with him as a puppy, but I bet you would think twice before fighting him now as he has become a big boy with a fierce bark.
Then about three years ago, I received a guide dog named Gilbert. Although he is primarily my dog, he is so mellow and adorable he is loved by the whole family. In fact, Gilbert has healed our emotional wounds so well that I admit you hadn’t crossed our minds since he came home. That is, until last Friday afternoon when we got an unexpected phone call.
“Do you own a black lab named Kelso?” the caller asked my dad. Apparently, you had been found running loose in a nearby town and the information in your microchip implanted by the humane society before we adopted you never got updated.
My dad explained to the caller how we no longer owned you, but when he hung up and told me what happened, your memory came flooding back to me.
I have matured a lot over the years, especially when I learned that even guide dogs are frequently returned by handlers who felt that the dog wasn’t right for them. Thus, I no longer view our family’s decision to return you as a betrayal. Spending your days locked in a cage because we cannot handle you is no way to live when there might be a family out there who would know how to train you in to a beloved pet or as my mom thought, someone with a sprawling farm where you could run wild, live happily and not get hurt.
It has been a busy week as I am doing an internship now, but you have been on my mind constantly. How much have you grown? Is the fur on your coat still curly as I remember? Were you adopted by a loving family that was perfect for you and just ran away like dogs do, or have the last eight years continued to be traumatic for you and you were abandoned again? I don’t know how to find out. We didn’t think to ask the caller, and even if we had, they might not have known or been willing to tell what they did know since you are no longer our dog. So I guess I will never know. But there is one thing that has offered our family some hope that your life maybe did take a turn for the better. My mom said the town where you were found is surrounded by farmland.
Allison, the youngest child of your former family