Second Chance: Theory Of Pet Parenting

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View our shelter pets and services online: www.adoptmountainpets.org.

My name is Bailey, an energetic one year young homeless Heelixer (Heeler mix) puppy. Today I write about what it really means when you make a decision to bring a pet into your life. I don’t want to preach but I do want to promote the pet parenting philosophy that my friends here at Second Chance Humane Society believe in. They agree with me that if this philosophy were embraced by all there would no longer be a need for animal shelters.

Fortunately, the status of pets today has greatly evolved from being purely a guard or working dog (or a mouser for cats) to being an actual part of the family. Yes, we still serve in those helpful roles but now we do so while enjoying a deeper bond to those who are responsible for us. People are now learning to appreciate and respond to our individuality, our emotions, and our great social need to connect with our humans.

People now understand that the inner nature of pets requires a sense of parenting and not ownership. The big difference is that ownership can denote a detached relationship allowing us to be dismissed or discarded while parenting is about responsibility and a love-based bond. For the record, I am looking to be parented, not owned.

From a parenting role a pet’s needs and desires are attended to while understanding that pets are not always going to make the best choices for themselves. Like a dependent child we don’t have the foresight to think that eating an entire pizza will give us a belly ache. We live quite instinctually and in the moment and pizza tastes very good in the moment.

Like young children, dogs don’t realize that leaning out of the back of the truck is dangerous and could lead to being thrown from the truck. We don’t realize that running free about town, although fun, can lead to untimely death by vehicle collision. We don’t realize that barking all night long keeps the neighbors awake. We can’t spay/neuter ourselves. As the adult human in the relationship you have a responsibility, as you would a child, to do our forward thinking for us.

And, as a dog with emotions, anticipations, and a great desire to bond with a human, I hope that my new parent’s sense of responsibility includes honoring all these pieces of me. I want to feel like a part of my new family, not apart from them. I invite you to reflect upon the responsibility involved in parenting a pet. Although we are not as demanding as a child, a “parent-pet” relationship will foster a respectful bond with your pet that is far more meaningful than a sense of “ownership” ever can.

As for me, I am looking for my third chance. My first second chance led to me being returned here after my family broke up. I know it wasn’t anyone’s fault but it still stinks. I love to play fetch, play tug of war, and go fishing and hiking. But my adoration of people is really my thing, particularly as I can be a little competitive with other dogs when there is food in the vicinity. I just dig people so much and feel I would be my best as an only child. Let me be that sweet part of your tall cool summer drink…

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Kelly Goodin

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