June 13, 2022

The Power of Love: Let’s Keep that Pandemic Puppy, People.

I’m feeling disgusted with humanity today.

Every animal lover knows how this can be, particularly in a time when people are returning young dogs they adopted as puppies during the pandemic to their local shelter, or even worse, dumping them in rural areas as if they were feral, in such volume that the shelters are overly full.

It’s become far too appealing and easy for people to simply dispose of their animals as though they were sheets that didn’t quite fit their needs. Even worse, for people to order up dogs from breeders like a gluten-free organic meal at a Boulder farm-to-table bistro.

In a time when there are dogs in need who are already here, it’s like saying to the shelter dog, I’m sorry, you’re just not good enough for me. (You’re damaged, there must be a reason you are in a shelter, you are less-than, and so on.)

Take your pick.

I’ve been trying to help my sisters in rescue as of late, who are all as exhausted, depleted, overwhelmed, dispirited, beleaguered, and spent in their efforts to support, contribute, save, rescue, and tend to more dogs than their spirits and souls should be managing. All of them are responding to the Pandemic Puppy Crisis with such fervor and devotion, devoting all those precious free hours otherwise spent in exercise, spirit-lifting meditation, or soul-redeeming relaxation to cleaning kennels, walking shelter pups, or answering Instagram direct messages at 4 a.m. before they drive to their jobs at eight.

Even more dramatic is Dan in the Redlands in South Florida, who shows up to care for a pack of 60 (yes, I said 60) dogs dumped by people who intentionally loaded up the family car and drove them out to rural scrublands for a one-way journey. Dan is the guy I wrote of earlier, being featured in a documentary-in-the-making by iFilmHeroes.

All of it is eroding my faith in humanity.

Or maybe this morning, it is just eroding mine.

I want to write about how humanity sucks, people are as vapid as they are morally bankrupt, and that those who are dumping dogs are going to an especially fire-filled place at the end of their pathetic lives.

And yet, I know that this won’t inspire a sea turtle to lay an egg, much less motivate anybody to foster or adopt a dog in need at this time. I also know Thich Nhat Hanh would admonish me, if he were still alive, to not use divisive language.

But seriously.

In need of inspiration to move through my foul mood, I texted my friend, Amanda, the proud guardian of four dogs and two young boys. To be certain, I am as in love with her bonded pair of Pitbull mutts as I am with the idea that there still are good people out there; I just might have to look a little harder on some days.

Amanda never disappoints. If reliability plays any role, then fate steps in to reaffirm. Remember Skya’s story, of yet another pandemic puppy acquisition, who was being tossed out of the family home right next door?

Skya turns out to be more than a good fit for the family.

It’s a downright love affair. The story of Joey and Skya is a love energy I long to be around. They bless their family of four humans daily, with all those positive, feel-good love vibes. Photos don’t lie, and theirs speak a thousand words. They met over the fence and have been inseparable ever since. They comfort Amanda’s tiny humans in moments of illness and distress, entertain in those evening hours of relaxation (or exhaustion), and amuse themselves incessantly with their strong presence.

Joey showed up for Skya, and she for Joey. And with their opposite eye patches, the two are wrapped up in each other literally, trying to form a complete dog.

The power of two cannot be overstated. I’ve always had pairs of dogs, and feel strongly that while I can meet any one dog’s needs, another dog can meet them even more so. They speak the same language, bonding in canine understanding. They learn from each other (up to 600 times faster, according to Ted Karasote, author of Merle’s Door). They keep each other company in our absence, lending comfort, and companionship.

And in the case of Joey and Skya, all that oxytocin.

Presently, Smudges and Charlie, a bonded pair from Texas and Oklahoma, respectively, grace our land and hog our king-size bed while we curl up in our corner of it at night. Before them, I had Cody and Rainier, Border Collie mutts from the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, herded my menagerie of horses and a longhorn heifer from one end of the pasture and back into the barnyard. And for a while, our disabled dog, Willie Grommit, bonded with another disabled Texas rescue, Bodhi, until our land proved too harsh, and surprisingly, too much for his fragile and broken body. (Bodhi was adopted by his original foster family, who was in love with him and blessed with a small grassy backyard.)

The point being that the power of two can help overcome some of our current obstacles to keeping our dogs at home where they belong and out of the shelters. Instead of returning the Pandemic Puppy because (1) they are fraught with separation anxiety, now that you leave at 7:30 in the morning for your job and don’t return until six o’clock at night, (2) they’ve gotten destructive and are chewing up the crate pad out of sheer boredom, (3) they’ve gotten expensive, or (4) they just grew up, shed fur (they are dogs, after all) you didn’t expect all over your living room carpet, how about adopting a second dog, and easing the Pandemic Puppy Crisis?

The shelter closest to us—Humane Society of Boulder Valley—provides low-cost veterinary care for those in need, training and food donations for those most in need. I know Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is opening up community-based sheltering, which provides everything from low-cost veterinary care to training to food donations. I’m certain that a shelter near you provides something relatively close to the same.

Let’s give that Pandemic Puppy a second chance to stay in the home in which she was adopted and avail ourselves of the resources provided from shelters or other places to help turn the tide in favor of canine celebrations against this dreadfully human-caused crisis. She did, after all, provide you with unconditional love and devotion and keep you company during your self-quarantine isolation as we all took a timeout from participating in the human race. Now that we’ve gone back to it, let’s not throw her away like used toilet paper.

The power of two is a strong and unbreakable bond worth considering and would indeed reaffirm my own faith in humanity.

Not that we’ve met or that it matters, but it just might matter to that animal lover next door.


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