by Wendy Hunter
Animal lover that I am, a cougar I am not. -Betty White
Happy New Year kids! Today is the first day of January 2022, and also my sister Kelly’s birthday. I won’t tell you how old she is because that would be tacky (62), and there’s no call for that. Mom and I didn’t do any sort of celebrating last night because we were too busy watching Dr. Pol. As a matter of fact, I totally forgot to bust out the bubbly, but only because I was in bed by 10:00. Yup, it was a crazy festival of homemade tortellini soup and leftover yule log. Hey, we Golden Girls know how to party!
Speaking of which, just like the rest of you, I was completely heartbroken when I heard about the passing of amazing animal advocate, Betty White. If angels really do exist, then she was their poster child. White was a member of the Morris Animal Foundation for over fifty years. According to their website, she served as a Trustee, Board President, Board President Emeritus, donor, spokesperson, and many other roles. Tiffany Grunert, President/CEO of Morris Animal Foundation said, “It is hard to imagine a world without Betty in it. We will miss her wit, her intelligence and, most of all, her love of animals and commitment to advancing their health. She was a true inspiration to our staff, her fellow trustees, and all of our supporters.” Rose, we in the world of animal rescue salute you; we shall always call you our hero.
Animals are near and dear to my heart, and I’ve devoted my life to trying to improve their lives.
Now that the holidays are mercifully over, you’re probably returning some well meaning presents. Like that pink horizontal striped sweater that Aunt Doris gave you, even though you always remind her that you hate pink and those stripes don’t look good on anyone but a twelve year old. Or maybe you’re taking back the itchy scarf from cousin Marge that scratches your neck like a terrified kitten. No problem, you just sashay up to the Returns counter at Target, or wherever the purchase was made, and hand in your gift receipt. Sometimes, things just don’t work out.
You’ll swap that pink sweater for a nice subtle gray one, and exchange your wool scarf for a cozy cashmere one. But what happens if the gift in question is a living breathing one…a new puppy, for example? That furry critter your kids begged you for back in November? You remember, they promised to feed it and exercise it, and take care of it forever. They were going to play with this ball of fluff, clean up after his messes, and make sure he’s safe. Unfortunately, a few days after Christmas morning, these same kids completely threw all that out the proverbial window. The first time little “Bucky” pees on the floor, whines for a walk, escapes from the yard, or goes hungry at dinnertime, things take a turn for the worse. Kids are like we Golden Girls; their memory sucks.
I love children, the only problem with children: they grow up to be people, and I just like animals better than people. It’s that simple.
Now before you shove me off my soapbox, and say you just bought your kids a puppy for Christmas, let me explain. First of all, kudos to you for taking the responsibility and fulfilling that dream for your rugrats. Secondly, I hope it all works out and Milly the Maltese has a bouncy bed of her own and all the Milk Bones she can eat. But just remember, there are a lot of dogs who are not as lucky as yours. There are so many puppies given as gifts, with red bows around their necks, with excited youngsters fawning all over them. Unfortunately, many of these dogs are unexpected, and not really wanted. Just because you think your eight-year-old nephew would love a puppy doesn’t mean his parent’s would. When people come into ARF and want to adopt a dog for someone in their family, especially an elderly relative, it makes me think twice. So, we have to ask the hard questions: does this person WANT a dog or do YOU think a dog would be good for them? Remember, someone’s lifestyle is the most important thing to consider. You may think that Jack Russell Terrier pup would be great for elderly Uncle John, but you might want to think again. Just tune in to any episode of Frasier, and watch the little spitfire that is “Eddie.” In case you don’t trust me (if that’s possible), here’s some advice from renowned dog trainer Cesar Millan:
* We should never give pets as Christmas gifts. It’s just a bad idea all around. Christmas time is already pretty hectic as it is, do you really want to make someone or some family even more bonkers during the busiest time of the year by sticking them with a new family addition? Get them a pair of socks instead.
* Always ask first. Never surprise someone with a pet gift. Even if you know full well that the person is on the lookout for a pet, you need to ask first in order to be sure what kind of pet to get them.
* Make sure they can care for the pet properly. Before you buy your elderly mother that dog, be sure she can physically keep up with it. And before you add a new puppy to the family, make sure that your kids are old enough to assist in its care.
Animals don’t lie. Animals don’t criticize. If animals have moody days, they handle them better than humans do.Now listen, I don’t want to be grouchy and Grinch-like on this subject, but there are many other ways you can still give someone a pet. For example, once you find out they’re all over the idea, you can offer to pay the dog’s adoption fees. If your friend flakes out at the last minute, you’ll have made a much needed donation to a no-kill shelter. And that’s a win-win for everyone. Also, you could make a gift basket for someone who might be giving some serious thought to adopting. A bed, toys, leash, and perhaps a stuffed doggie to get started with. You know, baby steps. And remember, if you receive a pet you didn’t ask for or can’t take care of, decline the offer graciously. Most purchased pets have a return policy, so make your decision in a timely fashion. If you decide to keep the dog and try to rehome it yourself, check out your local rescues for assistance and ideas. Perhaps you did receive the puppy of your dreams, but are having some issues with your festive friend. There are tons of resources out there to help you with things like potty training, chewing, and barking, etc. Before you know it, he’ll be ready for Westminster!
At ARF in 2021, we adopted out a ridiculous amount of puppies. It was crazy! I haven’t been there since September, but every time I checked our Facebook page, I was thrilled to see so many found great homes. It was puppy palooza of a year, and we are always excited to see them land a family to call their own. Sometimes, we get as many as 100 applications for one puppy—are you kidding me? For Sutton, Hershey, and Musketeer, they didn’t even have to wait for Santa; all found loving homes before the holidays.In spite of many adoptions, our puppy yard is continually spilling over with adorable dogs. Here are just a few who are willing to take up space on your sofa, or snuggle with you under the covers. I give you Pecan, Ginger, and Kelly. Have you ever seen so much cuteness? Ginger is a sweet pup, who’s affectionate, playful, friendly, and loves giving kisses while hanging out on the couch. Kelly is a loving, gentle, curious, smart and funny girl, while Pecan is a wiry little terrier with a regal countenance. And just for sheer adorableness, check out Peppy. OMG, that face is too much! All four of these adoptable puppies are between 4-6 months old. For more info, please visit our website. Your new bestie is waiting, so bring some snacks!
If everyone took personal responsibility for their animals, we wouldn’t have a lot of the animal problems that we do. I’m a big spay-and-neuter supporter. Don’t have babies if you’re not going to take care of those babies. We don’t need more. We just need to take care of the ones we have. Take responsibility and breathe kindness.
All quotes by Betty White; thank you for being a friend.
Animal Rescue of Fresno
4545 E Dakota Ave.
Fresno, CA 93726
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section and check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue. We also have a pet Facebook group for KRL and we would love to have you join!