As a pup I dreamed and wondered,
  What life would hold in store,
  For me.  I thought, there's something great,
  Beyond that kennel door.

  Out there are needy people,
  And I have much to give;
  Love and wit and gentleness,
  To help them to live.

  I'd be someone's protector,
  Keep little ones from harm,
  Or guide an old man's weary footsteps,
  Or help to run a farm.

  I'd run and bark and jump and play,
  With friends along a sandy shore.
  I'd roll in meadows thick and green,
  That lie beyond that kennel door.

  I lay here waiting....longing,
  As the days and years went by.
  My owner kept me fed and brushed,
  But, inside let me die.

  I do not think of greatness now;
  I'm old and filled with pain.
  My owner has some ribbons,
  But I have lived in vain.

  I cannot think what could have been;
  My dreams are filled with hope no more.
  Just floor and walls and broken heart,
  For me behind this kennel door.

                                                M. Kimmen
What Am I to You?
   I cut this out of a dog magazine some years ago.  It appeared before that in "The Greater Emporia KC" bulletin.  This really touches my heart.  Although it was meant to draw attention to the plight of dogs in show kennels used only for winning ribbons and reproducing, it can easily apply to surplus animals anywhere.  Even one neglected dog in one household is surplus.

     And this hits close to home.  Down through the years, I have rescued many dogs from animal shelters, taken in strays and drop-offs, and accepted pound-bound dogs from desperate owners.  Unable to find suitable homes, I found myself in a situation that was stressful for me as well as the dogs, some of which spent their years like the dog in the poem.

     A number of these dogs are/were poorly-bred Dalmatians...dog-aggressive females, cast-offs from someone's backyard-breeding project, and unsuitable for adoption.  I try to keep a sense of humor about most things, but this is a sad, sad situation...nothing funny about it.  Every time I have to put one down for some terminal old-age health problem, I experience an intense agony.  The source of my grief is not so much the
death of the dog, but rather the life of the dog...filled mainly with fences and the vision of my back as I hurry away from one pen and on to the next.

     I wrestle now with the possibility that death is kinder than lifelong incarceration, and that the dogs I didn't take off of death row, may have been the lucky ones...in some cases anyway.  I've even begun to wonder if animal shelters that take surrenders are a wise idea, in that they enable too many people to remain ignorant and irresponsible, including those who raise dogs for money.  As long as the animal shelter pipelines are open, there will be no need to curb the excessive production and exploitation of dogs, cats, and other pets.  Just keep pumping out those puppies, and when they are grown, kill them off to make room for more, appears to be the philosophy of the day.

     It seems that when some group or other tries to do something about indiscriminate breeding of purebred dogs, backyard breeders rise up, band together, and scream about their rights.  I think that puts them in the same category as smokers.  It's now very expensive to smoke because of the astronomical costs of treating the resulting health problems.  There are astronomical costs involved with the production of surplus and inferior dogs, too.  If we can make people pay big bucks for smokes, why can't we make people pay big bucks for a breeder's license?  And while we're at it, let's require them to take a course in genetics!

     Now I'm not one to promote legislation...goodness knows we have far too much of that already...but education and pleas for common sense have not made much of a dent in the number of surplus animals.  I hope that there is some other way to put pressure on the culprits in this sad scenario.  In the meantime, I'll keep on truckin', trying to make life as good as I can for the dogs in my care, and to keep a roof over our heads.  Will you do your part?  Please be sure your pet-quality purebred is spayed/neutered, and show the same kindness for your mixed-breed pals, as well.
Set a good example! Thanks so very much!    
If you think you may have a dog of breeding quality, here are some questions to ask....
Copyright 2004 Carole J Sulser
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