This has been one of the sadder periods I've had in 6 years of volunteering for Give a Dog a Bone. Two of our long-term charges, Minna and Momo, were euthanized recently after spending 14 months in our care. Sad as it is, it was the right decision--Minna was too fearful and Momo too unpredictable to make viable pets or rescue dogs. They both failed multiple temperament tests. The damage was done long before they came into the program and--with a shelter and city full of unwanted animals--they simply didn't have a chance.
In a program like this saying goodbye is something you have to be prepared for. A lot of the dogs that come through our doors simply don't get back out. It's a cold, hard reality and, as much as we'd like it to be, our role isn't to rehabilitate every single pup into an adoptable, pet-worthy dog. Sometimes our gift is to give them a chance, even if brief, to be a dog for a change: to sniff and mark, to get their ears scratched, or maybe even learn a few behaviors "sit" or "come". In cases like Momo and Minna, the dogs have endured prolonged abuse at the hands of their owners and they haven't had the chance to learn how to be normal around other dogs or people. All we can do is work with them, play with them, be patient and kind with them and show them that not all people are cruel.
I say all this now as I try to reconcile the loss of these two friends. Saying goodbye to a dog at GADAB is a bittersweet thing--no matter the context. Sometimes you wish them the best as they return to a home you know in your heart of hearts is not right for them and that they'll probably be back. Other times, as with Momo and Minna, they work their way into your heart and, in turn, you work as hard as you can to change the odds--knowing full well the chances are slim. From time to time, though, there is a happy ending and a dog like Murphy or Franco makes it to a rescue group or loving, adoptive home.
This is indeed a heartbreaker because we tried really hard with Momo and Minna--hoping against hope that they'd fall into that last, special group. As sad as this moment is, though, it underscores the need for a program like GADAB to not only care for dogs like Minna and Momo who've been dealt a rotten hand but to also get the word out that there is a very real and horribly sad consequence to irresponsible pet ownership.
Momo and Minna, it was an honor to know you.