Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The D-Words and the G-Word: Part 2

My last post dealt with the business of Type 2 Diabetes and GUILT. This one, too, will address the G-word — this time in connection with dogs. If you haven't read Part 1 yet, it can be found here.

Midday Contemplations

 OK ... to the point!

Freddie, as regular readers of this blog know, came from a Labradoodle breeder — Shari O'Quinn of Olympic Labradoodles, in Gig Harbor, WA. Paul and I decided to acquire our dog from Shari after much consideration of all sorts of alternatives (including shelter dogs), and, if I were making the decision again — assuming there were still no accessible diabetic alert dog facilities in Canada, and my own dog training skills were back to zero — I'd do the same.

Shari's experience with service dogs, her expertise, her passion, the idyllic/trauma-free lives her puppies lead, the typical temperament of the Labradoodle ... all of these things seemed useful cushions against the bumps we would inevitably encounter as a result of our lofty training goals and our inexperience.


Freddie may not be Mr. Malleable when it comes to training. He has his quirks and challenges, but he's a smart, devoted, affectionate, happy companion, and I wouldn't trade him for ... well, for a cure for diabetes. (Wow, did I just write that? Strange and ironic, perhaps, but it's true.)

So where's the guilt?

Green Horns

Maybe I should say, "Where isn't it?" Lots of places, if you're me — including the animal rights part of my conscience, every time I consider my dog's idyllic life in contrast to the poor, downtrodden pooch who's been hanging out in the shelter (or the street, or the puppy mill, etc.) for weeks/months and whose days are quite possibly numbered.

Freddie is a done deed, a sealed emotional deal, but that doesn't stop me from wondering if some Lab/shepherd/rottweiler mix from the SPCA could have made a great alert dog ... or wishing we had the space and resources to welcome a rescue dog into our home.

Knowing we're not in a position to have a second dog right now, but wanting to compensate somehow, I recently decided to investigate volunteer dog walking at the two facilities I'd be able to get to on a regular basis: the SPCA and the City's Animal Control Shelter.

I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that dog walking is a popular volunteer gig. Both places have long wait lists for dog walkers and take in a very small number of new volunteers once or twice a year. The SPCA's next intake is smack-dab in the busiest part of the summer teaching term; Animal Control has no new recruitments planned. So much for instant gratification.


So what's a designer dog* guardian with a guilty conscience to do? I'm open to suggestions. In the meantime, although I'm not in the best position to be pushing rescue/adoption on other people, here are two local(ish) pups that tugged at the rope toys of my heart today (click on the names for more info):

Be mine?

Pawnote ...

*The term "designer dog" seems to be used almost exclusively for deliberate cross-breedings of two established breeds (one of them usually a poodle). The expression often has a whiff of condescension about it, such as in this recent anti-Labradoodle article, which, though interesting in some ways, smacks of breed snobbery and sour grapes. Anyway ... I'm using the "designer" label a lot more loosely, to refer to any dog that has been carefully bred to have certain characteristics (Labrador, Labradoodle, Lhasa Apso, whatever) then sold to a "forever family" that has been, to one degree or another, screened for suitability.

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