Last weekend, Faithful Friends participated in a national adoption event at Petsmart.

Last weekend, Faithful Friends participated in a national adoption event at Petsmart. We celebrated several great adoptions. As I was going over our adoption agreement with one of the adopters, I reminded them that they were committing to give this dog the very best of love and care until "death do you part." When I said that, I made direct eye contact with this person and saw a bit of a shocked reaction as I said that.

In the excitement of adopting a new pet, many do not approach the adoption with the "forever" attitude that we want to see.nUnfortunately, many still see the adoption of a new pet more as a "purchase," rather than making a 10 to 15 year commitment to a new family member.

We receive calls on a regular basis from people who want us to take their dog, accompanied by all sorts of excuses for why they can no longer keep them. There are occasionally legitimate reasons for someone actually being forced to give up their pet, but those are few and far between. We hear such things as: "The dog digs out of the fence." (The dog is either lonely or bored.) "The dog is jumping on the baby." (Give the dog some extra attention and training.) "I just don't have time for the dog anymore." (Translation: The dog is an inconvenience now. Something or someone else has replaced the dog on the priority list.)

Family is family. We don't kick our family members out of our lives and abandon them on the nearest roadside or at the homeless shelter when issues arise. We work through the problems or challenges and are better people for having done so. The same should apply to our pets. They bank every part of their being on the hope that we will always love them and take care of them, "till death do we part."

Dogs give their lives, their love, their loyalty and their hearts away without reservation. I wish more understood that receiving such a rare gift is a privilege. It is not a right!

Almost all behavior issues that are given as excuses for "ditching" the dog are quite easily remedied with relatively little work on our part. It is a matter of a little education, understanding, patience and a few training sessions. It is amazing how many who claim to be "animal lovers" aren't willing to even try. I wish we had a national "Do Not Adopt" registry that we could refer to when someone is purchasing or adopting a pet. If they have abandoned other dogs at a shelter, chances are they will do it again, even more easily the next time. Maybe we could prevent more dogs from going through the same sad scenario... maybe someday!

In the meantime, all we can do is try to protect these incredible creatures who give us their heart and soul, by screening applicants the best we can and encouraging them to call immediately, if any issues arise. We always help any way we can, and if needed, refer them on to a professional trainer to work through whatever the challenge might be.
I received an email the other day from a rescue group containing a poem called "I am not an until dog":

I am not your dog until you get bored with me.
I am not your dog until I am not a cute puppy any more.
I am not your dog until you get a new girlfriend.
I am not your dog (baby) until you have a "real" baby.
I am not your dog until you move and I become inconvenient to take along.
I am not your dog until I am old and require a little extra care.
I am not your dog until your new pet doesn't like me.
I am not your dog until I mistake your $100 shoes for a chew toy.
I am not your dog until I growl because kids are pulling my hair and tail and I have no other way to ask them to please stop.
I am a forever dog.
If you can't give me forever, then I am not your dog.
It's really that simple.
Author Unknown

It really is that simple.

Leanne Williams is president of Faithful Friends.