UNDERDOGS: Information and Celebration

9 05 2010

“One day, when I get a house with a big yard, I want to adopt a dog.” “Why are you trying to adopt out that Pit bull?” “I had a dog but I had to move so he had to go to the shelter.” And so opens the foreword of my book, UNDERDOGS: Valuable Information and Stories of Transformation. The seeds of the book were planted when I was helping to conduct mobile adoptions on the weekends for a respected dog rescue in California, known for taking in dogs with “issues.” I learned that with proper training and owner commitment, most dogs can integrate into families when a well-considered match is made. A one size fits all dog does not exist, so choosing welll is essential. But, even if the match is not made in heaven, resources are available now more than ever to help us keep our canine family members. It was surprising to discover that even when people have paid money to engage in training, both for themselves and their dog, frequently the new tools are left behind. When the same behaviors that became unacceptable in the first place continue in the home, it is the dog that is surrendered.

UNDERDOGS was written in part to illustrate how dogs really end up in rescues- so often through the decisions and choices made by human beings, and to offer useful information to assist in protecting dogs we might adopt, those we already love, and those in the community. Understanding the ways in which our dogs might be at risk, how some laws have changed, designed to garner greater protection for our animals, as well as hands on tips to make good proactive decisions for our pets are just some of the elements found in UNDERDOGS that will keep dogs out of shelters and rescues. Shockingly, this can happen even if it is unintentional; the chapter that exposes Class B dealers who steal small dogs for use in laboratory testing is an example of this. The dogs featured in the book symbolize counterparts all over the world that have found themselves in similar hopeless situations, but UNDERDOGS is at the heart, a celebration of the immeasurable value that can come when adoption is done well. It reminds us no matter how bleak the future looks, change can come. A new reality might only be a moment away.

In some cases, rescue life is a reprieve from the life a dog is living; abuse and neglect of animals is unacceptable, and sometimes no matter how much someone loves a dog, they may just feel they no longer have the means to adequately take care of their pet. Private rescue organizations provide safety, shelter, opportunities for socialization, foster homes, and even training so the dog’s chances of finding a long term home increase. It is important to me that people who devote their lives to providing a second chance for worthy animals receive the credit they deserve. Seeing images of dogs in cages waiting to be chosen, knowing the painful journeys so many have taken, can leave us saddened, tearful and wanting to help in some way. I am hoping that UNDERDOGS will offer one opportunity.

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