18 Aug

A man in Grand Rapids, Michigan incredibly took out a $7000 full page ad in the paper to present the following essay to the people of his community.


The Dog that you Dumped at the Shelter

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was “bad,” you’d shake your finger at me and ask “How could you?” — but then you’d relent and roll me over for a belly rub.

My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because “ice cream is bad for dogs” you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love. She, now your wife, is not a “dog person” – – still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.

Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a “prisoner of love.” As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch because your touch was now so infrequent and I would’ve defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered “yes” and changed the subject. I had gone from being “your dog” to “just a dog ,” and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You’ve made the right decision for your “family,” but there was a time when I was your only family.

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said “I know you will find a good home for her.” They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with “papers.” You had to pry your son’s fingers loose from my collar as he screamed “No, Daddy! Please don’t let them take my dog!” And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked, “How could you?”

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind that this was all a bad dream.. or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.

When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days.

As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured, “How could you?”

Perhaps because she understood my dog speak, she said, “I’m so sorry.” She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn’t be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself — a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my “How could you?” was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

A Note from the Author: If “How Could You?” brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly “owned” pets who die each year in American & Canadian animal shelters. Please use this to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay & neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.

Please pass this on to everyone, not to hurt them or make them sad, but it could save maybe, even one, unwanted pet. Remember…They love UNCONDITIONALLY.

Now that the tears are rolling down your face, pass it on! Send to everyone in your address book and around the world! This IS the reality of dogs given up to shelters!

By Jim Willis, 2001


He is your friend, your protector, your dog!

You are his love, his life, his leader.

He will be yours loyal and true to the last beat of his heart!

You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion!

10 Responses to “HOW COULD YOU!”

  1. Willie Wonka September 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

    I do not understand how some people can treat animals the way they treat a used car or a book. First, our laws need to change to provide them more protection than a car or book. The they need to be enforced. How can humans just drop off a family member at a shelter, knowing they may and probably will, die there ?? I can not fathom such a shallow mind and cold heart. This happens much too often. It is always wrong. Until we replace shelters with Adoption Centers, there is no safe place to leave an animal. The Shelter Revolution will change all that. is the Better way !

    • Notsuredomus September 30, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

      I couldn’t agree more. Discarded with no more emotion than they would a christmas toy that they tired of playing with. Innocent beings everyday are being punished for human crimes. Disgraceful.

    • Notsuredomus October 6, 2011 at 1:37 am #

      Wow I can’t believe that you chose the exact same metaphor as I did to describe mans self appointed dominion over other sentient beings. To many people believe in there own God given superiority over animals. The animals are without sin and last time I checked I believe that man was the only animal that God kicked out of paradise! Willie Wonka I love the name Gene Wilder was perfect in that movie. Thanks for the post and for the link I will be sure to check it out. Shelter Revolution the name sounds promising : )

  2. jbg September 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    I went over to the arlington texas animal shelter and took a lab mix that was within one half an hour of being killed. The workers said she had bitten someone I said who did she bite, they said she didn’t bite anyone but sits in the corner and growls and shakes. Maybe she didn’t like the accomodations, I don’t know. They were waiting for me to leave to kill her at 2 pm, I refused to leave and told them I wanted to bring her outside, once outside she was wagging her tail and I brushed her and we became bonded by her need for a human and my need to not let her beautiful life end in a room with a needle to be bagged and tossed in a landfill. When will society see that breeding animals is against all decency, shelter pets are the way to go. Today I pick my girl up after her spay and no shelter will ever be able to threaten her with a needle again. Great ad, I hope people will read it and see the reality of the inhumane treatment of kill shelters around our country.

    • Tami October 1, 2011 at 5:21 am #

      jbg – I bailed a dog from a kill shelter hours before her demise also. She was fear aggressive and barked and charged at the kennel door. I watched her and KNEW she was misunderstood. I asked for the guy to take her out of the kennel. He said to me, “there are so many other good dogs, don’t waste your time on her. Some dogs should be put down”. Well that didn’t change my mind. He put on gloves, got the long pole with the loop, opened the outside door of the kennel room to the fenced backyard and then opened her kennel door. She ran outside and kept running and jumping and would come up to me, sniff me, and go back to running. Against advice, I bailed her and with love, consistency, and proper training, she has turned out to be an amazing dog, so much so that my husband has asked for her in our divorce. A dog once thrown away like garbage suddenly found herself with two people wanting to keep her. It’s unfortunate, but it’s difficult for some animals to show their true potential when they are faced with abandonement and death.

      • Notsuredomus October 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

        Yeah I always feel so much for the ones with the least chance. I tell myself each time I lose one never again and then the very next time I go to adopt from the shelter I pick the oldest dog in the worse health that they have. lol

      • Notsuredomus October 6, 2011 at 1:08 am #

        Good for you Tami…. I know exactly what you mean. Dogs that behave that way do so because of what they have been through. It is not in a dogs nature to behave that way. They are the ones who have been betrayed in the worse way by those who were supposed to love and care for them. They are victims and should be treated as victims, with kindness and understanding. They have to learn how to trust again and that can be a long difficult process of earning trust and testing boundaries. I have been bit more times than I can count working with abused dogs. Rehabilitation is a dept we (as a species) owe these dogs for what our kind has done to them. The deeper the psychological scars are in a dog, the more patience and understanding you need to show. To many people have dogs or worse work in shelters that don’t understand dogs. Shelter workers with no empathy for the animals they are supposed to care for and some who even enjoy killing the unwanted dogs. Dogs are sentient beings not property, like a car you would trade in for a newer model or a xmas toy you tired of playing with. Everytime I have been bit by an animal I have understood why it happened but I will never understand people.

    • Notsuredomus October 6, 2011 at 1:21 am #

      jbg I have seen it too. Idiots thinking the dogs are unadoptable because of there behavior. The frickin pound is a scary place. It wreaks of death, the constant frantic barking. Dogs being dragged off in noose collars and never coming back and people that don’t understand or don’t care how scared you are. Shelters are hell holes. When ever I have to go to one I come home depressed and can’t get the thought of all those desperate faces looking at me as I pass by there cages. Breaks my heart.

    • Notsuredomus October 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

      The Humane Society… A misleading name projecting love and compassion. Killing the dogs and cats of Los Angeles County since 1975. Old dogs, puppies aggressive dogs and sweet dogs we are an equal opportunity destroyer.


  1. How could you? | As told by a dog dropped off at the pound | Motley Dogs - September 30, 2011

    […] Source: The Familiar Spirit […]

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