Do you think that chaining out and abandoning a dog in a back yard shortens a dog's life? I think that once again I've found a good example for something with my own dogs. I've talked about designer dogs before on this blog in relation to my dogs - because Charlie and his litter are technically designer dogs - they're the offspring of 2 purebred dogs - a yellow lab and a tri-colour sheltie - except for the fact that they all turned out exactly the same looking, and completely different sizes and temperaments - some more lab, some more sheltie - and all itinerant sheltie barkers. And they came from a certified back yard breeder who was doing it - in her own words "because she wanted to offer people a nice dog for less money".
But today I was given another example. I found another littermate of Charlie and Leonard (a littermate of Charlie who I had with my exhusband who now lives in Toronto that I had until 2005 or 2006) at the Dartmouth SPCA who was going to be killed because the manager at the time had decided he was unadoptable. She "didn't like the look in his eye". He had obviously been chained out his whole life - he was severely emaciated, the ends of his fur were orange, his teeth were rotten, he was unsocialized - but he was family to me. And when I looked in his eyes I could see the most beautiful soul looking out dying to be given freedom.
So the Dartmouth shelter let me adopt him after I pulled some major strings and I brought him home. I named him Philip. All the dogs that I had gotten from Charlie's brothers had been named after American composers - Charlie (Charles Ives), Leonard (Leonard Cohen) - and now Philip (Philip Glass).
Philip DID turn out to be beautiful. And perfect in every way, except for the fact that he wanted to kill any dog that he didn't live with. But that wasn't too big a deal in my house because at that point we were starting to retreat from other dogs anyway, and when we were around other dogs - he could be managed.
This was how he preferred to spend all his time - laying with his head on my belly. I wrote quite a few posts about him when I had him back in 2004 - when I first got him I wrote about that - I changed his name from "Molson", which was his name at the shelter.
And then when he found his forever home up in Berwick - I wrote about that too.
But today I got that horrible email that Philip/Brodie is no longer with us. His body had given out on him. He might have come from an earlier litter than Charlie and Leonard - and they are both going to be 10 years old this year - so he could have been 12 or 13 years old - the back yard breeder they came from had a lot of litters with her dogs - but still, 12 or 13 isn't old. But the life Brodie lived was horrible until he came to live with me and then his new family. And that's what did him in so early. Being abandoned to a backyard, waiting for someone to come out the back door and take you inside slowly kills a dog inside - and I'm sure it shortens any sentient beings life.
The vet who was treating Brodie figured that he was 17 or 18 years old, and I know for a fact that there was no way he could've been that old - but I also know for a fact that the life he lived prior to going to the Dartmouth SPCA is a life that can make a dogs body seem that old. It's another reason why chaining dogs outside for years at a time is so absolutely wrong.
Philip/Brodie died too young, I'm very sorry I didn't get to say good-bye to him. He's the first dog I haven't gotten to say good-bye to that I've had a hand in finding a better life. I guess there's only so much you can write into an adoption contract.