More Casualties of COVID

Valentine’s Day was a sad day at the Funny Farm this year. I had Jeep put to sleep early that Monday morning, after a brief spell that began on Saturday. Nearly 16 year old Jeep died peacefully on his car blankees with me petting him, he having no clue what happened since the vet came in from the opposite side. Needless to say, our hearts are broken. RIP old pal.

Meanwhile, I’d known of a young border collie in dire need of a home, and not just any home. She was so reactive to anything with four legs that I didn’t take her because of Jeep’s age and vulnerability. But two weeks after he died, the foster mom reached out to me, desperate for help. Her dogs were shutting down and her cats were in hiding from this little three-legged terror. So I agreed we would give her a try, and at the very least, provide a much calmer situation/routine where she’d have a better chance of being successfully rehomed.

We kept her and worked with her for six weeks, and after a professional assessment that her reactive/aggressive behavior made her unsafe to ever be around cats, we rehomed her with someone who had no other pets and lived in quiet solitude. It is the perfect home for this girl, and we hope she lives many happy years there.

We haven’t been dogless since 1984, and my life seemed empty without that special companionship that a dog provides. So I kept my eyes open, checking Petfinder almost daily for a border collie or similar breed. Yesterday I called about an 11-month old male border collie. At first he sounded promising: they got him as a puppy and just didn’t have time for him anymore, having two small kids and full-time jobs. But then the details came out. Because of their neglect, the pup had developed some very bad habits. He destroyed the fenced yard, digging and chewing everything in site in spite of a fortune spent on interactive toys. Inside, he tore up the furniture and ate holes in the carpet (I haven’t heard that one before). He was crated most of the time because of his behavior.

She claimed he was fine with a cat, but that was when he was 12 weeks old; he’d never lived with one. He was great at the dog park, but she stopped taking him months ago because he stalked small dogs, and there was this one dog he “didn’t like…” Finally she admitted that he also got “stalky” with the very young neighbor kids when they visited one day. They went off to another room and the dog followed. Minutes later, one of them had blood running down his face. The dog had bit him. Sure, he probably deserved it, but this was serious neglect on her part, knowing the dog was behaving aggressively towards them and letting them continue to interact. They apparently didn’t report the incident. I probably should have, but decided not to. I also obviously decided not to adopt this dog. I will hope that someone with experience and time winds up with him.

The gal said they wanted an Australian shepherd because “they’re so cool looking.” They wound up with a border collie because, “I’ve always wanted to go hiking.” They knew nothing about herding dogs and have possibly damaged this dog beyond repair. The same thing happened with the dog we fostered: someone got a puppy during the shutdown and did nothing to socialize it, then pawned her off to who knows when they returned to work, and the poor pup wound up in a wire crate and somehow, lost a leg. I suspect a dog fight.

Across the U.S., shelters are full of these “COVID puppies.” People were locked up at home with the kids so hey, “let’s get a puppy!” Then when the kids went back to school and parents went back to work, there was no more time for the dog. Dog developed bad behavior and wound up homeless and very difficult to place.

Given that dogs have been “man’s best friend” for something like 11,000 years, it’s pitiful how people continue to so blatantly and selfishly abuse their love and trust. So hey, if you’re reading this and you have a pup or two, turn off the screen and walk your dog. It will do wonders for you both.

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