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Where, Oh Where Has My Dog Gone?

November 26, 2012

We jumped off the school bus and ran down the driveway toward the house. But something was different. Cindy wasn’t here to greet us…

She always met the bus. Every other day, we could see her sitting at the end of the driveway, patiently waiting for our turn to get off the bus. Something was wrong today. Very wrong. She wasn’t there.

We threw our books on the steps as we raced by, circling the house, searching the yard and garage for our beloved black lab. But she was nowhere to be found. So we piled into the house, breathless, to ask mom.

‘Where’s Cindy? The two of us asked.

Mom turned to the sink, unable to face us. ‘She went to live with a different family.’

‘Why?’ We asked in unison, our voices near whispers.

‘She’s a puppy factory. Dad and I gave her away this morning.‘’

Well, the puppy factory part was true enough. In the four years that we had her, she’d had seventy pups…sixty-nine black ones and one lone tan one. We, as kids were fascinated by all the puppies. They came in litters of ten to twelve or thirteen at a time.

As adults, our parents weren‘t so happy about puppies.

Sadly, The tan one wandered on to the road and got hit by a car. But that was the reality of living in the country in the late fifties and early sixties. And that part’s still true today for the most part…dogs who are allowed to run loose sometimes get hit by cars.

Back then, no one spayed or neutered their pets; we‘d never even heard of that!

When we were kids, you could always find a dog for free. And if you didn’t have to pay for a dog, why would you pay to have it fixed? Pets in our neighborhood weren’t taken to the vet for vaccinations, much less surgery. Dogs and cats meandered through our neighborhood at will; few were chained and none were walked on a leash. It was just the way it was back then.

But us kids were blindsided. By our parents, no less. We had no idea they were even thinking of getting rid of Cindy. It just happened. She was there one day, and gone the next. Literally.  We never said ‘Goodbye.’
It would have been one thing if she’d been hit by a car, but she wasn’t. I’m not saying it would have been easier, but we would have understood.

But our folks gave her away. Without telling us. Mom never liked it when Cindy had puppies, but then, mom didn’t like dogs at all. Dad was different. He loved dogs.

But, we weren’t told. We weren’t allowed to prepare for the loss. The dog was simply yanked away. And that was a game-changer.

Now, as an adult, I agree that something had to be done about her ‘puppy factory’ quality. Whether it was spaying her, or giving her away. That’s not the issue.

My issue is that we weren’t told.. We didn’t have a chance to prepare ourselves. Of course we would have begged mom and dad not to get rid of her. We were kids. She was our dog. That’s natural.

Parenting is a difficult job. Even on good days, it holds immense responsibility…for both the physical and psychological well-being of the kids. And sometimes, there are no right answers.

But yanking away a beloved pet by choice, without helping your kids prepare in advance is just plain wrong. It scars them and creates issues with trust. It makes them wonder what else will be taken away without warning. And, sadly, it changes the family dynamic forever.

My folks did what they thought would be easiest. And maybe it was…for them.

But for us kids, both of us who were old enough to remember coming home that day to find our dog gone, the act of giving our dog away without telling us changed everything.

Eventually, we adjusted to our loss, but we never trusted mom and dad quite the way we did before. We knew first hand what they were capable of, and we never knew if or when they would do it again.

And it couldn’t be undone. There were no apologies. Life was just supposed to go on as usual.

With that said, here’s my disclaimer: Kids don’t come with an owner’s manual. Each of us is different, so no two of us react exactly the same way. We all have issues; baggage, if you will. We can only do what we think is best. And fair. We need to ask how we would feel if____. We need to follow the Golden Rule. And the Commandments. Maybe even ask ourselves ‘What’s the worst that could happen if…’ Think things through and go from there. The world would be a better place if we all followed these simple guidelines.

But the world is broken, and stuff happens. Big stuff. Little stuff.  Fact is, in the grand scope of things, losing a dog like this probably isn’t earth shattering, but it was at the time, and it shaped the character of both my brother and I. It changed us. Made us skeptical and distrustful. Unnecessarily.

Life deals us plenty of bumps and bruises, and the occasional sucker punch along the way. It doesn’t need any help from us. Stuff happens. We need to find a way to forgive and move on.

One Comment
  1. I had my only dog given to the dog pound by my mom (he peed on the leg of her brand new wooden kitchen table) while I was at school. When I came home for lunch, she told me that she had the dog catcher come and my dog loved to go for rides, so he got his leash and the man let him sit in the front seat with him ( it probably wasn’t true but I still like to think that!). I was so devastated that I couldn’t go back to school for the rest of the day. I sobbed myself into exhaustion. I even told my mom I hated her (eventho I knew I’d get a whipping from my dad for saying it). As an adult, I understand her frustration and no matter how she had gone about getting rid of the dog would have crushed me, so it really was a no-win situation. But I whole heartedly agree with the broken trust thing!

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