Here at Harmony, we are fortunate enough to have not yet seen horrific cases of animal abuse, hoarding, or dog-fighting. And though we are not ignorant enough to think these are not present in our community, we are pleased the universe knows our young rescue is under-prepared both financially and emotionally for such things to be dropped on our laps. When it does, however, we will take on the challenge. Though we haven't dealt with the aforementioned events, we have seen some less than perfect sides of humanity that made us check into our judge-o-meter. We are learning to silence that judge-o-meter because (hello?!) who are we to judge? And, oftentimes, that dang thing is wrong.
In rescue, we deal with relinquishments and adoptions. Dogs come in and dogs go out. This is how we are slowly chipping away at the homeless animal population in hopes of eliminating our need to do so altogether. Can you imagine a day when there are no dog rescues? We can! Well until then, the dogs come in and go out with people. True, people are the reason for our high homeless pet population, but people are also working to fix this issue.
Dogs come in for a reason. In order to best prepare for the dog and begin to find the perfect forever family, we ask the person surrendering the dog the reason for the surrender. Now, some people may believe there is NO reason to give up your dog EVER (we love you) but it's not a perfect world. A handful of reasons we hear include finances, an old dog can't handle a cross-state move, change in work schedule, death in the family, dog behavior, allergies...
In the beginning, our natural instinct was to try our darndest to find a solution and keep the dog with their current family. Behavioral issues? Neuter and consult a trainer! Tried a trainer? Try a different one! After never being taken up on our suggestions, people ended up surrendering their dogs anyway. We would ask ourselves, "why aren't people trying??" We eventually learned people usually do not give up their dog willy nilly. Much thought likely went into the (hopefully) tough decision and it's just that, a decision. The family has already made up their mind and came to the final decision before contacting a rescue. In the short glimpse of time we encounter people who give up their dog, we do not have the chance to truly understand all that brought them to their final decision. So we must not judge the person and only focus on the dog.
Also, the decision to bring a dog to a rescue is hugely commendable. Giving a dog to a friend of a friend or, worst of all, selling or giving away on Facebook or Craigslist can lead to the dog getting passed from person to person or even worse. A rescue is able to provide a safe place while vetting potential forever families. It's our mission and number one priority to match dogs and families to increase the likelihood of surrendered dogs staying in their new homes forever. One of the biggest reasons to surrender to a rescue like Harmony is we have no sense of urgency. We do not give dogs to the first taker or highest bidder. We try our best to find the RIGHT home.
Putting dogs first has been the key to not judging and keeping the focus where it should be. Whenever our minds begin to drift towards negativity, as it naturally does, we shift back to our mission and goal, to reduce the number of homeless dogs. When in doubt, think about the dog. No matter how sad or mad about a person, think about the dog. To succeed in rescue, we must all think about the dog! When we do that, there's really no time for judging.