"Shadow isn't happy"

Two days ago I received a call from a pet buyer who had purchased two test puppies many years ago. The first died about 2 years ago. The younger it seems, was not "happy" with the arrival and growth of twins, so when they had the chance, they gave her to his sister about a year ago.

The Schnauzer Breeder From Hell emerged just a little on this one.

The phone call about "what should we do with Shadow" was preceeded with the lengthy explanation of how his sister's companion had had a fit and told her to get her stuff and her dog out of the apartment by that night. I pointed out that his sister might well find a new place to live, and I'd be willing to keep her for her in the interm. (After a long diatribe about how the sister loved the dog, and she was "happy" there.) That didn't seem to be the solution he was looking for.

I finally interrupted his ramblings and asked him to cut to the chase.

"Well, I feel so guilty about this, but well, Shadow doesn't like the kids."

"What, does she try to bite?"

"No! She just leaves and hides in her crate. She's afraid when they jump off the stairs..."

"Oh. Well, you know that you can bring her back at any time."

"But that isn't fair to you. I don't want to put her down."

"You don't have to put her down, I said you can bring her back anytime."

"But what will you do with her? Will you have to put her down?"

"Not if she's healthy. I'll probably have to keep her. I doubt I can find her a home at 11 years old."

"But that isn't fair to you."

"No, it's not, but that's not the issue. It isn't fair that an old dog has to lose her home, to go live with a stranger, either. But I have a responsibility to the dogs I breed. If nobody else will give them a home, I will."

"I feel so guilty, but she's just not happy here. As soon as she saw the kids she ran away."

"How long has she been with you?"

"An hour or two."

"Then why do you think she should be happy about it already?"

"I guess. But I don't want her to live here and be unhappy with the kids."

"Wait a second. Let's be honest about this. Why do you assume that an 11 year old dog is going to be happy about moving in with a stranger in a house full of strange dogs?"

"I guess that's true.... I feel soooo guilty about this."

"So, let's stop pretending that you are doing this for the dog's happiness. OK?"

[I let that hang in the air.]

Anyway, to make a long story short, the wife took over after that, and the dog came here last night. He introduced me to his 4 year old twins, referring to the daughter as "four, going on forty."

Apparently, in that family, forty year olds suck on pacifiers.

In the year or so she had been living with the sister, she had never been groomed, never had her nails trimmed, was matted to the skin, had an inch of crusties built up under her eyes, and her untended teeth are so sore she was chattering while I worked on her. This man and his wife work in the health care industry.

In the next hour I shaved her to the skin, bathed her, and under it - inspite of it all - was a surprisingly healthy old dog.

And guess what? This morning, she's happy.

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