An Incredibly Selfish Act

As proud new puppy parents, Buckaroo and I have been started watching "The Dog Whisperer" on the National Geographic Channel.  While the show’s title may be a bit cheesy (it’s jumping on that whole "whisperer" trend… horses, ghosts, dogs), it offers valuable insight into how to handle different problem situations with dog ownership. 

The Dog WhispererIn many of the situations, it is the owners behavior that is either causing or exacerbating the problem.  As the show’s brilliant dog trainer/star Cesar Milan likes to say, "I rehabilitate dogs.  I train people."  His advice always seems to be right on the money and maybe even just plain old common sense, but sometimes it takes an outside observer to be able to clarify the problem for the owner.

One episode I was watching recently really bothered me.  In the first segment, Cesar attempts to help a married couple with two miniature pinschers.  I got to admit that those dogs were probably the most hyper dogs I’ve ever seen.  The couple started with one dog, Taz, and then later adopted its litter mate Vicki when the original owner moved into an apartment that didn’t allow dogs.  The two dogs together were a terror.  They ran from room to room jumping at the doors and windows and running roughshod over everything.

Immediately obvious to both Cesar and any viewer was that the owners needed more correcting than the dogs.  The wife was deathly afraid of dogs, yet she said she always wanted to be a dog owner.  Why this was I’m not sure especially after her grown daughter told stories of how the mother used her kids as a shield between her and any strange dogs.  The husband said he tried using more discipline than the wife.  She didn’t like to use discipline as she "didn’t want the dog to be mad at her."

Within fifteen minutes or so of working with the dogs, Cesar had both of them walking calmly on a leash.  He then worked with the wife to get her to relax and be able to walk the dogs so they behaved and was somewhat successful.  The wife nearly freaked out when they walked by a strange neighbor dog, but Cesar kept her steady so her fear wouldn’t upset her dogs.  He explained that the dogs pick up on the energy and attitude of their owner.  She had to remain calm, confident, and most importantly, in control as "leader of the pack" if she wanted her dogs to obey her.

When Cesar left, things had seemed hopeful, but at the end of the show he revealed the family had  Vicki euthanized.  He also explained that he had not been consulted by the family prior to the euthanasia and felt that there were still other options available for the dog had he been asked.  The couple seemed to think that putting Vicki down was the answer.

The more I thought about the episode, the more my blood began to boil.  In my humble opinion, you don’t euthanize a pet for any reason other than to prevent suffering.  Killing an animal in the prime of its life because it’s become an inconvenience is as morally reprehensible as murder.  Did these people have no regard or respect for any life other than their own?  What an incredibly selfish act!  Furthermore, why the hell did these people adopt a dog in the first place?  The wife already knew dogs terrified her.  She should have sought to overcome that fear before getting a dog.

I also have to place a lot of blame on the second dog Vicki’s original owner.  When you adopt a pet, you have made a commitment to love and care for it.  Moving into an apartment that doesn’t allow pets is no longer an option for you.  It makes me wonder what this lady would be like as a parent.  Would she get rid of her kids if she wanted to move into an adults-only community?  Again, I see nothing but selfishness.

If you, my loyal blog readers, are ever thinking of adopting a pet, please realize that you are making a commitment for the life of the pet.  You don’t end that life early simply because the pet has become bothersome to you.  If you find yourself in a position where you absolutely, positively must find the pet a new home, then you make sure you’ve found it a home where it will be loved and cared for.  You don’t just drop it off at the pound, and you certainly don’t purposely make decisions that force you to get rid of the pet like moving to an apartment where they aren’t allowed.

Pets will give you unconditional love and loyalty if you provide for them properly.  They won’t be an inconvenience; they’ll be a member of your family.  Just ask anyone who takes care of their pets.

29 Responses to An Incredibly Selfish Act

  1. Anonymous says:

    An Incredibly Selfish Act

    Why the hell do people adopt pets if they are only going to euthanize them if the become an inconvenience?

  2. JdEB says:

    I totally agree with you Scott – a pet is NOT a toy that you can throw in the trash when you’re through with it, they’re living, breathing FEELING beings that depend on us for everything. Right now we (as in, me and the husband) have three dogs that we wouldn’t trade for anything. Two of them are what we call refugee dogs that no one wanted anymore and they’re fantastic!

    Callie is a six year old Scottish terrier who is as smart as they come and her previous owner was going to send her to the pound for digging in her yard. (Which she hasn’t done once since she’s been here)

    The other refugee dog is a two year old bassett hound named Fred who’s original owner was a friend of my partner’s brother – he just up and moved out of his house one day, and left Fred behind! He was a 4 month old puppy at the time, and was chewing a little – so the guy left him and called the brother to come get him. I had just lost a labrador retriever to prostate cancer, so guess who got the call to get a new dog? And I wouldn’t trade him for the world – Fred is companionable, and is a lot of fun to walk because every kid in the world wants to pet him. (I don’t know what it is about bassetts, but people want to touch them)

    And to think that either of these dogs would have gone to the Final Solution just chaps my ass. But they’ll have a home here as long as they live – which is the way that it should be.


  3. JohnScott says:

    I can’t add any more to Scott and JdEB’s comments except “X 1 million”. I live with my sister and brother-in-law, we have a boxer and 2 pits, plus 3 kitties, the sweetest, most loving animals in the world. Hell, if we “got rid” of one of them every time they annoyed and or “messed up” something, we’d be making round-trips to the pound weekly. And as far as Vicki’s original owner who moved to a place that didn’t allow dogs, every time I hear of somebody doing that, I just say “you’re an ass, why did you ever adopt a dog in the first place.”…..grrrr………but, great comments guys! Too bad we can’t make this “front page”……..SOME place!

  4. Betty says:

    Aside from terrible pet parents, what kind of vet would put a perfectly healthy dog to sleep??? Don’t they take an oath or something??

    I have two male English Bulldogs… and most of the time, I forget they are dogs because I think of them as being my babies. There isn’t anything we wouldn’t do for them. Earlier this year, we moved from Spain to California (military) and were told by the travel office on base that our boys were accepted on the military flight to the States but the civilian airlines refused to transport them from VA to CA. We asked what our options were and were told that we could just leave them behind.

    Um. Yeah. Like I would just leave my children behind. Right.

    We made it to VA and rented the biggest mini van we could find. We made it as comfortable as we possibly could and spent a week driving across the US. Sure, our savings account took a hard hit but we got our boys to CA and that’s what’s important.

    PS I found your site via

  5. Yen says:

    When I read that Vicki was euthanised, I couldn’t believe it. Those pet owners deserve to be punished. What an incredibly selfish act.

  6. dolphin says:

    It always disgusts me when people who clearly shouldn’t have a pet get one anyways. If someone gets a pet and realizes they can’t take care of it properly, there are other options besides putting it down. We had a kitten who had a birth defect no one was aware of when we brought him home. Once it came to light that the defect was there and it was going to cost us about $15 a DAY to keep him (for just medication, not counting food, litter, etc.) we had to get rid of him unfortunately, but we didn’t rush to have him put to sleep. We spent hours on the phone and finally found a no-kill shelter who could put him in the HOME of a vet who would take care of him either for the rest of his life or until he was adopted by someone else.

    Even if you truly can’t keep an animal, killing a non-suffering animal should not be an option.

  7. Howard says:

    Scott, this is exactly why as much as I want to get another Sheltie (Shetland Sheepdog) in my life, I couldn’t possibly do it when I’m working two jobs and running a comedy group. I could never live with myself that I couldn’t Bumper the time she would need for love, attention and exercise.

    Oh, yes, I already know I want a female and have a name lined up. πŸ™‚

    I’m glad Bailey, Zoe and Karter have such a great home.

  8. History Chic says:

    You can also get the book, which I have had for a few years. I can’t say this enough….there are no bad pets, just bad pet owners. I really wish more people would acknowledge that pets are work and that you shouldn’t commit to one unless you are willing to put the time into raising themπŸ™‚

  9. Two Sirius says:


    Are assholes.

    That is all.

  10. Jamie says:

    I will never understand how people can be so damned heartless. I’ve been a pet owner since I was 5, and I’d sooner chop off my right arm than put an animal down.

    This was sheer laziness, nothing else, and these people and their descendants should be banned from pet ownership for generations to come. Not that I’m opinionated or anything.

    Now I’m going to go buy my 2 dogs, 2 cats, 4 horses, 3 guinea pigs, 2 parakeets and assorted other small animals something to assuage my guiltful sorrow over Vicki. Good thing the hubby works at a pet store!

  11. The Hermit says:

    Amen, Scott. As the happy companion of a border collie named Angelo, who showed up literally at my door when I needed him most, I can’t imagine not thinking of him as a family member. That may mean some compromises (if I’ve left him inside when I go out, I need to be home within a reasonable time, for example)… but what he gives me is so much more than I deserve….

    And as for the breeds that everyone says are dangerous, my proposal is that the owners who don’t take time to socialize and train their dogs are the ones who belong in the pound, not the dog.

  12. Susan says:

    Thank you for writing this article. As the proud parent of two rescued “fur-kids,” I couldn’t agree with you more! It is ridiculous to think that an animal can be put down because the owners are unable to deal with the issue. I adopted a dog of my own out a year ago because it became obvious she had severe separation anxiety, it was getting worse, and nothing I tried seemed to help (meds, training, etc). Yes, it was hard work to find her a suitable home, but I did, and a year later, she is thriving and has never done better! I tell my story to say this: sometimes pets and owners are not a good match, but that doesn’t give the owner the right to “play God” and kill a living creature–there are alternatives: rehoming the animal or contacting a well-respected rescue in your area.

  13. WD says:

    How sad that these people would put down a dog because they are too stupid/ignorant/stubborn to change. I agree that most of a dogs problems are caused by their owners.

    Last week I was at the SPCA with two friends who are thinking of adopting replacements for their two (17 & 18 years old) who passed away this year. As I was sitting and watching the line where you pay for the “adoption” I spotted at LEAST 5 pets that I knew would be back at the SPCA after the holidays. They were being adopted by people who should NEVER have gotten the pet they did.

    At this SPCA the reasons the pets are there is put on the tags. My heart broke with the number that said things like: Too active, requires too much attention, needs training. That made my blood boil as well!! Would they do that with their kids?

    I really enjoy your blog, and visit it daily!!!


  14. Tony says:

    I agree with everything, except the comment about Vikie’s former owner.

    Before I go any further, let me just say that I am an absolute softy and have been walked over and taken advantage of many, many times for my easy-going nature when it comes to other people… But I don’t feel that the comment about Vikie’s old owner was justified.

    For all we know she couldn’t afford to take care of the dog or live in an appartment that allowed pets any more. Maybe she lost her job or got demoted or had to start taking financial care of her great aunt Floozie or something.

    … that or she’s a heartless bitch and needs to be beaten within an inch of her life with a wet noodle.

    But either way…πŸ™‚

  15. kyle says:

    what a fucking reprehensible thing to do.

    i’m horrified.

    the vet is just as much to blame as those stupid, ignorant fucks who should never be allowed to have a pet again.

  16. I agree 100%! I moved to Beijing with my two dogs this past summer, just as the city govt began its campaign against dog ownership here; I had to pay $120/dog to register them (slightly unofficially) and put up with all sorts of people telling me I should just get rid of the dogs since they’re too big to live in the city. People here just don’t get that these dogs are parts of my family, that I have made a commitment to look after them for their entire lives, and that giving them up would hurt everyone involved. Fortunately, things have died down a bit here so I am less worried, but still! Keep up the great blog!

  17. Scott says:


    The showed Vicki’s former owner when she came by to watch the training. She looked like she was just fine financially, but you’re right.  I don’t know the whole story.

  18. Only when I made my mom watch the show she finally calmed down about my two Pit Bulls.

    My history with them is somewhat similar. They used to belong to our roommate who, after getting into a coke habit, decided he didn’t want them anymore. So we took them and got rid of the roommate. When we later moved and couldn’t find a place to rent because of the Pit Bulls we realized we had to buy a house. Things turned out well. The best thing I’ve ever done was making the commitment to take care of these dogs.

  19. Heather says:

    It amazes me that so many people don’t realize that an animal, whether it be a cat or dog or lizard or fish or whatever is a LIVING BEING. (oh man I can hear all my bible thumping friends right know screaming but animals do not have SOULS!!!!)

    They show us unconditional love, they listen to us without ever giving unwanted advise, they pick us up when we are down, and know when to stay away if we are busy or cranky or whatever…

    I get more from my 5# boy Enzo then I do from probably most people I know!

    But stupid people abound would rather take the life of an innocent and rather peaceful – just needs to be loved and given direction animal.

    Most people just annoy me by their total ignorance… people that kill innocent animals… they plain piss me off!

    And on that note – I encourage everyone who has a fuzzy or feathered or gilled son or daughter to show them just how much they love them…it might not be enough for the whole animal kingdom… but it is a start.

  20. David says:

    Boy am I glad I held onto Niko when I was considering giving her up, I would so be on your shit list.

  21. jillbeth says:

    I was watching the Animal Planet station last night, the show where the Humane Society goes around picking up abused and neglected animals. I don’t watch it often because it just breaks my heart. They were picking up pit bulls who had been made to fight in the street. None of the owners would claim it was their animal, so the Humane Society declared them strays and took the animals with them. The poor dogs were torn and bloody, I’m almost ready to cry now just thinking about it. People who think so little of animals probably don’t think much of people, either. We have three dogs, not especially well-trained, but they are our babies and I could not bear to part with any of them or to have any harm come to them. Dogs are living, feeling beings, created by the same God who created us, and deserve to be treated with care and respect.

  22. Eva says:

    It makes me sick what people will do to there animals. I would not give up my dogs for anyone. They’re my best friends. Unconditional love is what they give. Like someone else said “Assholes” plain and simple.

  23. Thor says:

    I don’t know what I can say that hasn’t already been said. I can’t imagine anyone in my family taking our dog and having him put down because they decided that some training didn’t take. That’s horrible.

    Also… Sorry, I can’t resist. I think you meant “exacerbate”, not “exasperate.”

  24. Darry says:

    That’s just unacceptable. I have 2 elderly dogs and am dreading the day I have to think about euthanizing one of them (for the RIGHT reasons).

  25. Kelly says:

    I saw the episode and while watching I knew that she was the wrong person to raise those dogs. It’s really sad and unfortunate that the family didn’t try to find Vicki another home.

  26. Gene says:

    As was mentioned above, I can’t believe a Vet would euthanize an animal that was not terminally ill.

    I’ve known several irresponsible/uncaring pet owners and it makes me crazy!

  27. kathy says:

    I was horrified as well reading about Vicki’s senseless death. Poor dogs.

  28. Dharma says:

    Scott I agree with almost everything you and the others here commented on except the part about vickies owner. I have been on both sides of the fence. I am an avid animal lover and at the moment own 5 ferrets, 3 snakes and 5 fish. They are ALL family members (2 of the fish even let me pet them!). I have for years been the one that took in the unwanted pets of friends who didn’t want them anymore when they were out of the “kitten phase”. As a matter of fact that is where 3 of my fish and all 3 snakes came from( not non-cuteness issues in this case but unable to care for them anymore). I have also been on the other side of the fence and had to find homes for those pets when I was forced to move and NONE of my options allowed pets. In that case I found homes for them and If I couldn’t I would have taken them to a shelter. I find it horrific that the option of a shelter ***at the very least*** wasn’t considered. If you can afford to have the animal euthanized you can afford to even pay the fee for a no-kill shelter!

  29. Jeni R says:

    Firstly, I’d like to say that I do not agree with the actions of the dog owners. To have Vicki put down was incredibly wrong, even more so because there are always alternatives to that. These people should have thought long and hard before becoming pet owners, and thought about the long-term when doing it. A pet is indeed for life, not just for whatever random moment people decide they want to get one.

    About the fear of dogs thing though – I personally am also very, very scared of dogs. Much in the same way as the woman featured, I’ve gone out of my way to avoid most dogs, hiding behind people in some cases as the fear can completely take me over. It may be different for the woman, but for me it’s a lack of trust in the animal and fear at the fact that I can’t predict what they might do. In my mind, irrational as it is, most dogs could snap at any moment.

    But, there have been some dogs that I’ve learned to trust. At times I’ve lived in the same house as a dog (not as the owner but as someone staying with the owner), and I’ve learned to be comfortable around it to the extent where I can even take it for walks and in one case actually sleep in the same room as it was (that’s a big deal for me, due to the trust issues mentioned above).

    When buying or adopting the dog, the woman may have believed that she could get used to them, that she’d learn to relax around them. I’m not saying that their actions were right, but what I’d like to put across is that it’s not completely bizarre for a person with a strong fear of dogs to want to have some. In some cases it can be made to work. I like dogs, I always will do – but I’m also scared of them. You wouldn’t believe the trouble I have getting people to understand that. I wish that someday I manage to overcome my fear enough to become a dog owner, but rest assured that I will make sure that I’m ready when thinking about that. There are plenty of people out there who are responsible and would never want to cause any distress to animals.


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