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Essay called "How Could You?" (warning:tear-jerker)


Well-known Member
Cavy Slave
Sep 25, 2008
I found this ad in the "pets" section on Craigslist and it made me cry, so I wanted to share it with all of you, in hopes that maybe you will share it with someone else, and they will share it with someone, and so on...

A man in Grand Rapids, Michigan incredibly took out a $7000 full page ad in the paper to present the following essay to the people of his community.

HOW COULD YOU? - By Jim Willis, 2001

When I was a puppy, I entertained you with my antics and made you laugh. You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a couple of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was "bad," you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?" -- but then you'd relent and roll me over for a belly rub.
My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you were terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights of nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret dreams, and I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long walks and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the cone because "ice cream is bad for dogs" you said), and I took long naps in the sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.

Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and more time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted you through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about bad decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell in love. She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" - - still I welcomed her into our home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because you were happy.

Then the human babies came along and I shared your excitement. I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to mother them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent most of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I wanted to love them, but I became a "prisoner of love." As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur and pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes, investigated my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them and their touch -- because your touch was now so infrequent -- and I would've defended them with my life if need be. I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret dreams, and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway.

There had been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced a photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past few years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone from being "your dog" to "just a dog ," and you resented every expenditure on my behalf.

Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and they will be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the right decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only family

I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal shelter. It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out the paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They shrugged and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a middle-aged dog, even one with "papers." You had to pry your son's fingers loose from my collar as he screamed "No, Daddy! Please don't let them take my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught him about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and about respect for all life. You gave me a good-bye pat on the head, avoided my eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You had a deadline to meet and now I have one, too. After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about your upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good home. They shook their heads and asked, "How could you?"

They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy schedules allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At first, whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you that you had changed your mind -- that this was all a bad dream... or I hoped it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me.

When I realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of happy puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and waited. I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I padded along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room. She placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry. My heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a sense of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days.

As is my nature, I was more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on her, and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood. She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down her cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many years ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt the sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down sleepily, looked into her kind eyes and murmured, "How could you?"

Perhaps because she understood my dog speak, she said, "I'm so sorry." She hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went to a better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or have to fend for myself -- a place of love and light so very different from this earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her with a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her. It was directed at you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of you. I will think of you and wait for you forever. May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.

A Note from the Author: If "How Could You?" brought tears to your eyes as you read it, as it did to mine as I wrote it, it is because it is the composite story of the millions of formerly "owned" pets who die each year in American & Canadian animal shelters. Please use this to help educate, on your websites, in newsletters, on animal shelter and vet office bulletin boards. Tell the public that the decision to add a pet to the family is an important one for life, that animals deserve our love and sensible care, that finding another appropriate home for your animal is your responsibility and any local humane society or animal welfare league can offer you good advice, and that all life is precious. Please do your part to stop the killing, and encourage all spay & neuter campaigns in order to prevent unwanted animals.

Please pass this on to everyone, not to hurt them or make them sad, but it could save maybe, even one, unwanted pet. Remember...They love UNCONDITIONALLY.

Now that the tears are rolling down your face, pass it on! Send to everyone in your address book and around the world! This IS the reality of dogs given up to shelters!
That is so sad. My mom adopted a 5 year old cocker spaniel with behavioral issues, and the part about the dog wanting to know/love the baby reminded me of Walter... whenever my then-newborn started crying, Walter would be the first one there. Walter had valley fever on top of some genetic problems and once he stopped eating for three or four days, my mom made the hard decision to have him put to sleep. He was about 8 1/2 years old at that time. At the same time, it also reminds me of my 'best' friend who leaves her two dogs home alone for huge chunks of time. :(
I had to have a dog of mine put down too. She was so old and it was awful. She got like Alzheimers for dogs so barely even remembered where she was or who any of us were. We would let her out to go potty and she would run away when before she wouldn't even go half way through our front yard without one of us. She would fall asleep eating her food, she would pee on herself and we had to put diapers on her. When it got to where she couldn't even get up without a struggle we hard to have her put down. But we chose to think of it as doing what was best for her, because we never wanted to make her suffer because we were too selfish to part with her. In situations like mine and yours gooberific, it's the right thing to do. But when someone abandons their dog like in the story, it's just awful.
I have read it before. I cry every time I read it. Especially now since we had to have a dog put down.
Thanks for posting it, I couldn't find it again.
I thought by posting it here, it could only help. Maybe more people will spread it along and it will touch many others and help save more lives.
Yeah, I passed it on to everyone in my contact list in yahoo mail. Very sad article, but soo true that some people just don't care enough to take the time to make a pet a permanent family member.
I just wanted to use my mom's Walter as an example of rescuing older dogs. Walter even bit my dad on the face (but in Walter's defense, Dad deserved it. Why would you roll over and play rough with a dog you just met who was given up at the shelter for biting his owner?). But we kept him, and we worked with him and loved him, and even though we were nervous about how he would react with a baby, we just took it really really slow. Sometimes, we still call my son "Uncle Walter's favorite squeaky toy."

I still just can't wrap my head around giving up an animal to the shelter. I mean, one of the things we considered when apartment searching, even though we had no pets at the time, was to make sure they allowed pets just in case one ever entered our lives. Now we have 3 little hairy boys... I asked specifically if we would have to pay a pet deposit for guinea pigs. The answer was no, they weren't considered a pet like a dog or a cat. Sometimes, other people's ignorance is great. ;) But now when they come to do maintenance, they look at the cage like and shake their heads...
And thats what I love about owning my own house. No one can tell me I can or cannot have pets and when someone comes into my house and looks at the piiggies like I'm crazy I just don't care. If people would just give guinea pigs a real chance as a pet they would see how wonderful they can be. That being said all animals are just wonderful and I had it my way I would own a huge farm and have lots of animals and just stay home and take care of them all day.
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