Apologies for posting delays . . . I finally caught whatever has been going around. Still recovering, but am a bit better so I thought I would have a little rant . . . it has been awhile since I had a little rant about all those 'eejits' out there -- so here goes! (don't know what an eejit is -- google it!!)
As you know, Cura spent 13+ months at a shelter. I have a black and white picture of her from her intake at her last Shelter (Watermelon Mountain Ranch) which shows no grey on her muzzle. You will notice that every picture that I have posted (where you can see her face) shows that she has grey hair on her beautiful face -- and if it doesn't it is a trick of the light. My beloved Cura has been grey since the day we first locked eyes upon each other. Since she is only four and a half (at least based on the records provided to me -- and the vet is happy with that assessment), I, my trainers, and pretty much anyone else that spends any time with Cura, attribute her grey to the stress that is the result of a very social animal spending months in a shelter with very limited social contact. WMR is a good no-kill shelter. They work hard to socialize the animals, house dogs in social pods rather than in isolated kennels so the dogs have companionship, have volunteers that come in to walk and spend time with the dogs, and generally provide the best care possible with limited resources. Of course there is room for improvement (I am one of those people who believe that everything can be improved, no matter how good -- nothing is ever perfect) -- but WMR does a wonderful job for the creatures that are fortunate enough to be placed in their care.
So, where do I get off with the eejit rant intro? Well, I recently had an eejit response to a rather common exchange involving Cura's grey muzzle. The normal exchange goes something like this . . .
Annonymous Person (AP): How old is she?
Me: About four and a half.
AP: Oh, she is so grey . . .
Me: She spent over 13 months in a shelters/pounds. When she went into the last no-kill shelter she was not grey, when I adopted her, she was -- it is probably due to being in a stressful environment for such a long period of time.
AP: How can a no-kill shelter be stressful?
Me: All shelters are stressfull.
and here is where this exchange entered into annoying eejit-land . . .
AP: Well, I suppose that depends on the quality of the shelter . . . .
I chose not to continue this exchange. Why? For a few reasons . . .
1) I believe that, no matter how good a shelter, it will never be equal to a loving and fulfilling home. No shelter can give a dog the same quality of life as a 'forever home', no matter how dedicated the staff or how endless the resources -- in my opinion, any person who is not able to recognize this is not worth the time needed to sway their understanding of the dog/human relationship,
2) This person, again in my opinion, was not interested in learning about Cura's story -- instead this person wanted to challenge my understanding of reality (notice that I recognize that my interpretation is likely subjective -- but, since it coincides with the interpretation of several professionals familiar with Cura's case, it is certainly a valid possibility!), and
3) I have personally witnessed the behavioral differences between shelter resident Whoopee!!! and Service Dog Cura -- not only after adoption, but before she came home. For about a month, Whoopee!!!/Cura switched back and forth from the stressed, energy-buzzing shelter dog to the (relatively) stable, comfortable and engaged, potential Service Dog. On top of that, it is not just me and a small group of professionals that have had these observations . . . everyone who has witnessed her development over the past year has commented on how Cura is clearly much more calm, secure, settled, and confident now than when she was first adopted.
So, annoying person #1 -- next time you think that some shelters could provide a non-stressful environment for a dog, think about this . . . How would you feel if you were confined for over a year to a studio apartment with a small garden and you lived with 1-5 other people in that space? Let's be generous, let's say that once or twice a day somebody came and took you away from that and wheeled you around (in a wheelchair so you could really only go where they decided you were allowed) a small garden where you saw the same things everyday, sniffed the same smells every day, heard the same things everyday, and felt the same things EVERYDAY! Would this not be a stressful and monotonous environment? Hopefully, you understand -- if not, you hopefully never will and there is no point harping on the point.
Enough ranting for one day -- tune in for more 'eejit' stories later.