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Giving dog away--how to tell kids???

HelenbackHelenback Registered User Posts: 488 Member
edited May 2009 in Parent Cafe
We kept our neighbor's dog when they went on vacation and we really enjoyed having her here. Apparently she enjoyed being here too, because every morning they let her out and she comes to my door. They don't have a fenced yard or electric fence so there's nothing stopping her. The parents have decided that they're too busy with travel baseball and swimming and four kids to give this dog the attention she deserves so they'd like to give her to us, but they don't know how to tell the kids.

They are considering not telling them anything, and just seeing how long it takes for them to notice she's gone. Thoughts??? Is it a dirty trick, or is it a good way to illustrate to the kids how little they focus on the dog?

Any suggestions for them on how to handle this???
Post edited by Helenback on

Replies to: Giving dog away--how to tell kids???

  • APOLAPOL Registered User Posts: 1,780 Senior Member
    A thought.....when the family is all together-say dinner or breakfast-not just a "special meeting", or in the car on the way to a game, one of the parents bring up they have noticed the pet dog has been making a bee-line for the neighbors ever since the family went on a vacation. The other parent may then inject the idea of what do the kids think is the best thing for the dog....the dialogue may be the opening needed for both the family and the dog.~APOL-a mom
  • pugmadkatepugmadkate Registered User Posts: 5,888 Senior Member
    Helenback, I love that you are doing this. How wonderful for the dog and how generous of your family.
    They are considering not telling them anything, and just seeing how long it takes for them to notice she's gone. Thoughts??? Is it a dirty trick, or is it a good way to illustrate to the kids how little they focus on the dog?

    As a long time dog owner, this is one of my top pet peeves. These are children. They did not get jobs, pool their money and purchase a dog. The adults bought the dog. If they were so ill informed at to think that children can actually provide care, including proper amounts of attention, then that's their fault.

    The adults failed the dog. Now they want to punish their children to lessen the guilt. Great idea! Let's teach the kids that if they get busy and forget something living that love, it will disappear! Because children are just as capable of adults at multi-tasking and setting priorities. Gah!

    This will probably be a radical idea to them but they could tell the children the truth. Here's a script to help them;

    "Sometimes grown ups make mistakes. We made a mistake in thinking that we had time to properly care for a dog but we don't. We are so lucky that our wonderful neighbors, Helenback & Co., who do have the time, are going to take care of our dog. Now it will be their dog. But we can go visit and make sure that the dog is okay.

    Most of all, we want you to know that taking care of a job is a grown up jobs. We know you love the dog but it's our job to make sure the dog is getting the best care possible. Why don't we write letters that we can sent with the dog so that Helenback can read them to the dog. Plus, we'll go visit the dog in about a week."

    Then they should get ready for the tears and comfort their children. It's going to take a lot of tears and a lot of comfort and the parents are going to be the ones carrying the guilt. As it should be.

    In summary, they should handle this by taking a new role in relation to dog ownership; that of an adult.
  • ConsolationConsolation Registered User Posts: 21,708 Senior Member
    I completely agree with pugmadkate. Completely. And the script is great. People need to learn that getting a dog is a serious responsibility and that dogs are not disposable, and childhood is a good time to start.

    I'm SO glad that this particular dog has found a good home and will not be dumped in a shelter!
  • HelenbackHelenback Registered User Posts: 488 Member
    That is absolutely true. It is a parental responsibility. I think as the kids have aged and become very busy with sports, they find themselves home less and less. I do give them credit for recognizing that they're not giving this dog the attention she deserves. Apparently they've been openly discussing this for awhile and only one of the kids even bothers to protest. There are other pets in the home and I guess the kids are just more attached to them.

    That was very well said, Pugmadkate. It's true that they are "lucky" that we're here and that our family situation is very conducive to caring for her. I did use that phrase when we had to re-home a cat after I developed severe allergies and asthma. I told the kids that we were incredibly lucky that we found a good family for him, so I think I'll tell my neighbor to point that out.

    APOL--I think that's a good suggestion that they tell the kids to consider what's best for the dog. It's probably hard for them to wrap their minds around the concept them loving the dog doesn't necessarily equal the happiest life for the dog.

    Maybe the happy ending in this--other than I get a really great dog--is that when these kids grow up they look at pet ownership a little differently. I've wanted a dog since the minute I had to give up my cat. My kids have been asking for years, but I waited until I knew I had the time and energy to give back. It's not hard at all to imagine the appeal of getting a dog and that's why so many people do, but it it's very hard to project ahead in your life and think of the seriousness of the commitment. As I've been looking at shelter dogs and petfinder.com I've been amazed how many people post"Moving and new apartment doesn't allow pets--or--Moving and can't take dog." I guess if you're moving to Australia then I can understand but......

    Thanks for your help!
  • pugmadkatepugmadkate Registered User Posts: 5,888 Senior Member
    Helenback, You are absolutely right and I do give them a lot of credit for doing what is right for the dog. The easy way is to just rationalize not giving the dog enough attention. I had not heard the phrase "re-homing" and I really like it.

    In fact, taking some time with it, I don't think they should feel guilty so much as I was reacting to the idea of doing a "gotcha" on the kids that would surely make at least one of the children feel terrible for a long time.

    Dogs are so appealing and circumstances do change. It gets frustrating, as you said, when there seems to be an endless line of dogs that need homes. I hope someday to have enough land (& money!) to provide a good home for a few of those bigger, older dogs that are difficult to place but that I just love.

    Again, thank you for taking this dog. If we lived closer, I'd bring you over some celebratory muffins and dog food!
  • gusasparagusaspara Registered User Posts: 296 Junior Member
    I don't know how long the dog lived inside with you when its family was on vacation or how long it took you to develop the allergy to the cat, but you may want to talk to your doctor as to whether you may develop allergies to the dog as well. I'd hate to see you having to look for a new home for him in a year.
  • HelenbackHelenback Registered User Posts: 488 Member
    Thanks for the virtual muffins and dog food! I would love to have the land to be able to take in more animals too. I love the older dogs because they have such lovely, mellow personalities. Also I don't have to worry about this dog chewing my house to shreds--though there is already black hair on positively every surface. I think she gets brushed occasionally, but my guess is she hasn't had a good bath in a long time. I'll have to find about that.

    Gusaspara--I had the whole series of allergy tests when the cat issue came up so I'm confident that I'm not allergic to dogs. I've owned dogs for years previously so I have a good track record. I'd never lived with a cat before, and in fact didn't really know the whole thing of cat dander building up in the air, so when my doctor said I was allergic I thought it was completely ridiculous. :)

    I appreciate the suggestion, because that was certainly one of the most gut-wrenching experiences of my life and I have no interest in going through it again. I think I mourned my lost cat for about a year.
  • ucsd_ucla_daducsd_ucla_dad Registered User Posts: 8,573 Senior Member
    I think they should discuss the 'idea' of giving away the dog with their kids. I would have been very seriously upset if my parents had decided to 'give away my dog' when I was a kid and even more so if they didn't tell me up front. To do otherwise would break trust in the family on something important like this. Even though the parents intially got the dog, the rest of the family usually attaches to it and considers it 'theirs' as much as anyone else in the family. They may have no idea how emotionally attached one or more of their kids is to this dog even if it's difficult to get them to do chores related to it.

    When people get a dog they need to make a commitment and not treat it as a simple object as these people seem to be doing. They may be twisting it into 'what's best for the dog' but this is really about 'what's best for the parents' who should have never gotten the dog in the first place since they weren't committed to it.

    Maybe after discussing the 'possibility' of giving away the dog with the family family will decide to re-focus and pay more attention to the dog and choose to keep it.
  • HelenbackHelenback Registered User Posts: 488 Member
    UCLA--I actually suggested that she offer the kids the option to step up and take on more dog responsibilities. Only one of the four kids is resistant to the idea of giving her away. I suggested giving the daughter a few weeks to do all the chores and a daily walk--which never happens currently--and if at the end of that time she hasn't kept up with it then she'll have to admit Jasmine deserves better. I don't think my neighbor wants to drag it out though.

    The dog is a year overdue on her shots, and though she's pretty good at staying in the area, they don't have a fence or electric fence so she's free to wander. That's how she ends up at my house every morning.

    I too would've been completely horrified if my parents gave away my dog. I neglected to mention though that they already gave this dog away once when she was around 2 years old. A friend offered to take her in because they were having the same issue then that they have now--they're never home--but then it didn't work out because she didn't get along with the other dog in her new home. Then after that, they got a puppy, thinking maybe somebody to keep her company would help. That puppy used to be sitting in the middle of my street on a regular basis. Then they gave away the puppy. So yes, they're not dog people. They're very nice, but they just don't get it.

    So basically I think the kids have been hearing about giving the dog away since two weeks after she first arrived. I feel like I'm making these people either sound evil or like complete idiots. They're very nice, they just got the dog for all the wrong reasons. I do think the one daughter is very attached to the dog, and she'd be welcome at my house every single day to see her. I don't know if that will take some of the sting out of it for her or make it worse.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    I would agree it needs to be a group decision.
    While the families could " share" the dog, it is true that the dog doesn't seem to be getting the care that he needs- however- since ( and a major from the sounds of it)part of that seems to be because of child led ECs, I think they need to admit that they all need to share in the responsibility of his care, or find ( your house) a place that can give him the care he deserves
  • FallGirlFallGirl Registered User Posts: 7,483 Senior Member
    Helenback-I'm another "dog person" who thanks you for offering to take this dog. Reading that this is the second time this family is considering giving up the dog and only one of the kids really wants to keep the dog makes me think that the dog deserves to be in a home where he is loved,wanted and taken care of. The one child who wants the dog (but not enough to take care of it) can visit and be happy that the dog has a good home.

    When anyone tells me they are thinking of getting a dog, I always ask if "Mom" really wants the dog (since that's who takes care of it) if not they are usually looking at a situation similar to this. (OK, that's a generalization, sometimes it's Dad who wants the dog and will care for it).

    On that note, I'll sign off now and go spend some time with my beagle.
  • BalletMomBalletMom Registered User Posts: 217 Junior Member
    This is sad! When I was a growing up (and there were seven of us!) the dogs were part of the family. My Mom was never "too busy" for the dogs, or the cats, or the kids. I'm glad you're taking on the dog, Helenback!

    Much as I joke about giving away MY current dogs, they know I'm only kidding (I think.....)
  • ucsd_ucla_daducsd_ucla_dad Registered User Posts: 8,573 Senior Member

    After reading your last post it sounds like they do indeed view dogs as objects and the dog's safety is at stake so it seems as if the dog would be better off in your family. I do think they should discuss it together first but apparently the kids are already used to the idea of dogs coming and going (hopefully not a cycle they'll repeat when they grow up). One of the things that concerns me is that the dog is free to roam around where it could easily get hit by a car, get into fights with other dogs, etc.

    It's very nice of you to take in the dog. Our current dog was from a rescue place and it's hard to imagine that anyone would have ever given him up.
  • CountingDownCountingDown Registered User Posts: 12,458 Senior Member
    Another mom of a rescue dog here who thinks Helenback and Pugmadkate are spot-on. The kids can always come visit, but the dog needs a responsible family and to be safe.

    I have always been a dog person, but it took us a long time to be ready as a family to adopt one. I have a letter from S2 that he wrote on his 9th birthday explaining why he wanted a dog and how he would be responsible for it. We didn't actually adopt until I was home FT and felt we could make the commitment. Now, of course, it feels like she has been a member of the family since Day One, and we are thinking about adopting another dog when both guys are off at school.
  • dmd77dmd77 Registered User Posts: 8,663 Senior Member
    So: what kind of dog is it?

    (And I, too, think pug-mad-kate is dead on.)
This discussion has been closed.