A few days ago Wayne had a post and a parenting question It trigger the memory of an incident in our family that I will probably go to hell for. Again.
When my youngest daughter turned thirteen she wanted a little dog that could be hers. We already had a family German shepherd and a shih tzu that was pretty much mine, but she decided she wanted one of her own. So, seeing as we believe in pound puppies, off we went to see what we could find. What we found was a schnoodle – cross between a schnauzer and a poodle. He was about three years old and was a nice dog, but the previous owners couldn't keep him because he kept digging out of their fenced-in back yard.
We had a large acreage and farm so figured he'd have lots of room to run. Unfortunately, when you let him off his leash he wanted to run right toward town – down the busy road. This is not a good thing. We decided he'd have to be kept tied up when he was outside so as not to become road kill. He was a hyper little thing… a little too hyper for my daughter. He wasn't the cuddly-wuddly she thought he would be. We considered taking him back to the pound, but by then everyone had pretty much bonded with him… and my youngest son volunteered to take over the care of the dog.
Now, anyone who has ever had a child with a pet knows the routine. The begging, pleading, promising that they will be responsible and yes they will do everything the animal ever needs to have done until the end of time… or, at least until they decide there is something more fun to do. It is an uphill battle to teach your child about responsibility to a living creature. Our son did fine for awhile, then began to slack off. Forgetting to feed and water the dog when he was tied out and even with much yelling on my behalf… laying on guilt trips in large doses, threatening to take the dog back to the pound, everything I could think of, it still kept happening. (Before you all get excited, I did feed and water the dog when my son wasn't around. The dog didn't suffer, but son didn't know that.)
Finally, the day of the last straw came. I'd had enough with the threats and him ignoring me. While he was at school, I packed up the dog and took him back to the pound.
…or DID I? *insert evil laugh*
Well, that was what I told my son. He was crushed. He cried and begged and pleaded for us to go get the dog back. I told him I didn't know if they'd let us have him back because they normally wouldn't do that. Plus, who knew? Someone might adopt him again before we'd get there. I let my son stew, and yes, if truth be known, suffer… all night long. I told him when he went to school the next day that I would try and get the dog back but no guarentees. I told him if I did it would be his last chance to make right and take care of this animal, to give him a better life.
In reality, I'd made an arrangement with my vet to board the dog for a day or two until I felt my son had gotten the message.
I 'rescued' the dog the next day and brought him home and my son had a totally new outlook on taking care of that dog. In fact, he still has the dog and although this dog had some 'bad habits' we were never quite able to break, he's got a huge heart and is just a sweetie and I think the dog loves my son as much as my son loves him. They have been together for many years.
Also? All of my kids are animal "nuts"… but this son? I do believe he's the biggest softie of the bunch. He's rescued several kitties, a Husky dog, and spared numerous wild animals from being run over by the farm equipment.
The truth? Yeah, I did tell him… but not until he was 'grown up'.