Sunday, October 19, 2008

Explanation

Below is a comment left on my blog last night. Jules, I am not sure if you will check back and read my response, but you bring up a good point. For every comment, there are 10 people thinking the same thing and I have worried that when I am putting it all out there some of it can be misunderstood. Here is the comment....

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"I am not a fan of being dragged"
"Car sickness is not something I am willing to work on."
"So far I like what I see, but I will take a little more time before I decide."
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Wow. I don't even know how to react to those statements. You claim to be a dog lover but you won't adopt a greyhound who isn't "just right" for you.

Unbelievable. There are so many beautiful, loving greyhounds who need homes but because of people like you they will never have a chance at a forever home because they may be flawed. It seems like you're more concerned about how well they perform in your little games than opening your heart and home to a dog who may really need you. Sad.

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Regarding what I look for when I adopt a greyhound, I can understand how my statements appear picky and perfectionist in my quest to avoid a "flawed" dog, so let me explain. First, I think its important to not label certain traits as flaws. A particular trait for one person is an absolute treasure for another. For example, the perfect dog for me is one that has horrible leash manners, is not cat safe, lunges at small dogs, jumps on people, digs up the yard, chews up the house, and tries to get any food within reach. Such a greyhound, needs training, exercise, and a job to stay out of trouble. I have the time, energy, and the ability to work with difficult hounds and difficult hounds love the activity I am able to provide them. Therefore, when I am taking some time to decide whether a particular greyhound is right for me or not, I am trying to make sure I do not pick something that would be easy for my adoption group to place. It would be laughable for me to adopt a polite, sweet, lazy, car sick greyhound. It would be a misuse of what I have to offer and a missed opportunity to place a really nice dog with a nice family that stays home most of the time.

Jules said "There are so many beautiful, loving greyhounds who need homes but because of people like you they will never have a chance at a forever home because they may be flawed." That is simply not true. The sad thing is that a lot of adoption groups miss out on opportunities to place difficult, hard-to-place dogs. For example, someone who wants to adopt a greyhound to jog with is the perfect home for the occasional high energy greyhound. An adopter who enjoys training and competing is a great match for a greyhound who loves food and isn't cat safe. These are homes where high energy, high drive greyhounds are appreciated and their tendencies are put to good use. Its sad when adoption groups turn these people away due to the lack of understanding and incorrectly categorizing all greyhounds as couch potatoes.

I work with Southeastern Greyhound Adoption and we are big believers in matching the right greyhound with the right home. We want the greyhound to have a wonderful life with someone that enjoys the dog. To me, this is not asking an adopter to accept whatever greyhound we have available. There is nothing noble about someone adopting a greyhound that does not fit into their lifestyle. Occasionally, I suggest that people return their greyhounds. For example, I had someone with a handful of little dogs adopt a greyhound who did not settle in. She was shell shocked and she did not enjoy the activity or the company of the little dogs. It was very hard for these people to return her. They were dog people and they did not return dogs, but they finally were able to understand that their greyhound was not going to be happy. We placed this greyhound in a home with another greyhound. She came out of her shell and is happy as can be now. The people with the little dogs adopted another greyhound who is playful and enjoys the little dogs......... a happy ending for all involved.

I strongly encourage groups to really get to know their adoptables and to profile them. Get to know your adopters. Its silly to pass up on a person because they don't have a fenced yard. That person might walk 5 miles a day and I can guarantee that there are greyhounds who would sign up for that job. A greyhound with a chronic injury should go to a home that is easy to live in..... not one with a 10 acre fenced yard. A car sick greyhound should not be placed with someone like me who likes to drive with their greyhounds on a daily basis. In the same vein, I also believe in holding greyhounds with special traits for special homes. SEGA tries to adopt our cat safe greyhounds to people with cats.... to give our non-cat safe greyhounds a chance. If a greyhound is especially drawn to children, we save that greyhound for a family with small children. If a greyhound is obnoxious, unruly, and out of control.... where can I sign myself up?

Regarding this statement again "There are so many beautiful, loving greyhounds who need homes but because of people like you they will never have a chance at a forever home because they may be flawed." and also "You claim to be a dog lover but you won't adopt a greyhound who isn't "just right" for you."..... I am trying so hard to not be offended, but I admit that I am :-). I have adopted 10 greyhounds. Over time, I have become more knowledgeable and have developed the skills for managing and handling high energy, high prey drive, and extremely food motivated greyhounds and I love them. This is not your average greyhound. This type is a needle nose in the haystack. And yes, I may pass on many greyhounds before finding the right one, but it is because I want to provide a wonderful forever home to a greyhound who many not get that chance because of the high likelihood of training and behavior problems.

Travis is my best example of this. He was virtually unadoptable and I have yet to see a greyhound that could match his energy level or prey drive. He was a liability for Joe Average Adopter, so I decided I was the best person for managing his behavior and I did so without any competition aspirations. But I lucked out and for me his characteristics were wonderful and useful talents. Please go back and watch Travis' agility videos (there are a bunch at the end of 2007 and the half of 2008). His undesirable traits for a pet home made him a star in many other avenues and he loved every minute of the "little games". Jules, I so wish I could introduce you to Travis, so you could see how wrong and hurtful your statement is. The "little games" may seem trivial to you, but they were important to us. Travis got his chance because I passed on dogs that did not need what I could provide.

Well, I am sure that was a much longer response than it needed it to be. I am hoping the comment provided an opportunity to educate. I am so passionate about matching the right dog with the right person including myself. I could go on and on about it.


17 comments:

BrittBeah said...

Jen, I think you are very diplomatic in your responses. More so than I could ever be :( I tend to say what I'm thinking regarless if it was well thought through. I'll have to post more on the subject on my blog just to prove how poor I am at thinking before speaking:)

Beth said...

Well said, Jen. What you learned from and gave to Travis will benefit many future hounds, both yours and others. We are so fortunate to have your insight on tap for our adoption group. The right match at the right time can lead to a lifetime of adopting many hounds, but a wrong match (i.e. Travis in a household with lazy kids and yappy Yorkies??!!) could leave a bad taste in the mouth of an adopter, who would never attempt another adoption.

It's sort of like marriage . . . if my dear husband was looking for a well-dressed and accesorized woman who keeps a Southern Living house, then we'd be an awful match. I would have been "bounced" long ago! As for me, I'd much rather him vacuum the house than show up with flowers or jewelry. My favorite Christmas present was a freezer!!! But he still hasn't gotten me the nice pocket knife I've been wanting for field trials! ; )

christie said...

Well said Jen! Bravo! You are completely correct.

I admire what you do with your dogs, but couldn't do them myself because of lack of time and energy (insert list of excuses here). But, my Gemini and Heater are happy with the level of activity in this house, daily walks, exercise, play time and kongs. After fostering a few dogs, I came to understand that matching the dog to the person is very important. I applaud you and SEGA for all you do with screening and placement and post-adoption support.

Anonymous said...

Jen, Too bad Jules didn't know you personally. Otherwise she would not have said what she said. You have given so much of yourself for so long to the betterment of greyhound adoption. You have always been available when any adoptee had an issue or a problem. I've seen you foster dogs that did not seem placeable, and train the dogs to the point of successful adoption. SEGA (and greyhounds in general) are so lucky to have you. Many adoptions happened because of you. I hope your eloquent response helps everyone to understand the importance of a good adoption match. Kudos to you and SEGA for your dedication to good matches. Jean

Sientay L said...

Very well said. Everyone who knows you personally and has worked with SEGA knows how important it is to match the right dog to the right family. Jules doesn't know the commitment you have to your hounds and the hours you give to them every day on training. I wish I could be more like you and give my hounds the time they should have, but I admit I'm one of those owners who likes to cuddle and let them be lazy. Dino will let me know when he's had enough of the laziness and wants his jog or hard walk. I guess I shouldn't have trained him to run a 5k with me. He thinks it's the best thing in the world and wants to do it every day. We don't. If we did, I'd be able to run a marathon by now.
Anyways, many of us who know you personally know you do a wonderful job not only for your own hounds but for SEGA as well.
Keep up your great work:)

Zan said...

Jen, Your response is very diplomatic. I think Jules comment is a symptom of what is difficult about on-line communication. The written word can't convey all the background and nuances that are behind what is written in black and white. As a result, there can be misunderstandings.

Anyone that knows you at all, sees that the dogs you're looking for when you adopt, are generally the ones that would likely otherwise either not get adopted in the first place, or bounce after adoption. Generally, they need a special adopter. I, for one, see no problem with your seeking out those hounds that, while perfect for your "little games," may not be so great for the rest of us. If you pass on hounds with some issues (like car sickness) so that your pups can be the happy traveling hounds that work for your lifestyle, I for one am OK with that.

Thanks for all you do for SEGA and the hounds!!

Zan said...

I'd also like to add that I think it is very, very good for greyhound adoption in general for people to see greyhounds competing successfully in agility. In order to do that well, and thus be good ambassadors for the breed in that arena, I think it makes sense for you to seek out hounds that have the qualities that will enable them to excel at agility. They end up being great ambassadors for greyhound adoption!!

Denise- LessIsMore17 said...

Unbelieveable, does Jules really think she has an argument here? Course she has no blog that we can learn from or hear how she has adopted every car sick and unperfect dog. LOL
I guess I'm just as bad because I wasn't "willing" to train a dog to follow me around the farm- they either want to or don't.
I think it's awesome that you know what to look for in your perfect dog- especially when you seek out the ones that would be hard to place.
I think people like Jules has the mentality that these dogs have already "worked" during their lifetime and shouldn't be forced to do anything, but sit on the couch.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Thanks for the support everyone. The thing to keep in mind is that Jules is speaking from her heart. She is a greyhound lover, has probably adopted several, and maybe volunteers her time for greyhound adoption. Hopefully we have inspired her to spend some time looking at it from our perspective and to learn something from it.

Jen

Addie said...

Jen, I don't think I can add anything that other folks haven't said, but I will say that you're one of the greatest animal lovers I know, and you're such an asset to the breed and to SEGA. I'm sure I speak for many when I say that I've learned things from you that will serve my current hounds as well as all my dogs in the future. I'm sure that Jules meant no harm, and misunderstood what you're all about.

In short, you're the bomb-diggitiest dog behavior expert and animal lover, and don't let anyone make you doubt it.

Addie

KF-in-Georgia said...

Jules should have thought things through. Does she really think you should adopt someone like my Sam*--who pants and drools with pre-carsick stress before I even start the engine--and then haul that dog around to events? Or, worse, leave the dog home when you and Stephen take the other dogs on a hike at a location that requires a drive to reach--because you adopted a dog who hates going for a ride?

Adopters must adopt dogs that fit their needs and their lifestyles. Anyone who doesn't is dooming the dog to a less-than-optimal home. It's why every responsible adoption agency tries to match the right dog to the right owner.

*Sam gets left home sometimes--and hates it--when Jacey gets a car ride just for the sake of the drive.

Joanne C said...

People mean well, but they don't necessarily realize different people view things differently.
She may be the type who is willing to give a home to whatever dog needs it, regardless of personality.
I used to work at the local humane society. Rescuing homeless animals is something I strongly believe in, but there is no way I would be able to adopt just any dog. I was in no position to adopt a high energy, high needs dog. That is why I opted for a greyhound. My sister had one and I liked his calm, quiet demeanor. After doing further research I decided that a greyhound was for me.
Jen, I couldn't imagine having a greyhound with your hound's energy level. That's what I was trying to avoid! Tommy is just perfect for me. He spends most of his day laying around, yet he does like to go out and play once in a while too.
My adoption group was very good at matching me up with what I wanted/needed in a greyhound. He fits into our family perfectly!

I also want to add how much of an inspiration you and your dogs have been. I love reading about you guys :)

Jen said...

"You claim to be a dog lover but you won't adopt a greyhound who isn't "just right" for you."

My comment: Wouldn't you WANT to find a dog that is just right for you? Isn't that the goal of adoption groups, to match dogs with people? What a weird diss.

Jen

Addie said...

I agree, it is a weird diss. I don't think many people (whether they call themselves animal lovers or not) would adopt a dog who isn't right for them.

In my quest for the right dogs, I met a lot of hounds until I felt something "click". I'm glad we went through all those meetings because everyone is happier when there's a match.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jen for a well thought out response to Jules. Your experience in profiling and recommending placement info have been invaluable to SEGA and the may hounds we do place.

As you stated hopefully your post will help not only Jules but many others understand the importance of matching the right grey to the right family. Thanks for all you do.

Toni

greytblackdog said...

why would you want to adopt a dog that isn't right for you? just wondering? kev and i don't like barkers. roxy is vocal. it's her personality. we've been working on not using her doggy words all the time and it helps us be happier and her learn manners. it's something that has developed after 6 months in our house. so even sometimes, you still can't predict everything. that's why life is wonderfully full of surprises. it's not a matter of discriminating. it's a matter of finding the right fit.

IHateToast said...

i think another issue here is attacking a blogger before finding out what he or she really meant. why not leave a comment that says "gee, what do you mean by..." instead of just leaving a snarky comment? seems like she found you by googling one thing and reading one post. otherwise, she'd have seen all the work you put into your dogs.

i think your response was level headed and spot on. go have a cookie.