Assuming Annie the Australian Shepherd is fortunate enough to live a normal lifespan and succumb to old age somewhere down the road, she’s at about the halfway point in her life. In my experience, dogs in general do well adjusting to new owners, new environments and new lives. But this is the fall back plan for a dog who finds himself in need of a new home, it is not the first choice for a dog who already has a good home.
Annie does not need a new life. She was apparently happy and well cared for by her original owner. Sure, he could have done a better job protecting her from loss and searching for her when she got lost but heck, there have been a few times when hindsight has made me look slightly shabby myself. I feel for the guy.
I feel for the new owners too. Taking a new dog into your home is a big deal. You don’t do it lightly or without a sense of commitment. The hardest part is the beginning – teaching the dog what’s expected of him in his new life. The new owners made a commitment to Annie and were probably knee deep in the hard part when suddenly – ring-a-ling – the shelter calls and wants them to return the dog. That would suck. No doubt about it.
If it was me, I’d like to meet the original owner. I’d like to have him over for coffee and talk to him about Annie. I’d want to feel reassured that he did indeed take good care of her, that he’s learned a lesson from what has happened and will make his best effort to never let it happen again. Then I’d like to let Annie in to see him. I’d like to see how Annie reacts to him and how he is with her. If I got all good vibes, I think I could let her go.
After all, I thought I was saving Annie, but now I know Annie doesn’t need saving. But there are plenty of other dogs at the shelter who do. Even though it would be difficult for me to say goodbye to Annie, I’d try to look at it like this: I get to be the hero for Annie and her original owner today, and tomorrow I get to be the hero for another dog who truly needs rescuing from the shelter. Yay me.
As of yesterday, the new owners still refuse to return Annie to her original owner. I hope they reconsider. If nothing else, I would hope they would give the owner a get acquainted meeting out of respect for the fact that he is at least partly responsible for Annie being such a great dog that they don’t want to give her up after knowing her for such a short time.