Thursday, December 04, 2008

Do I really have the right to feel this way?

So ... we have been talking lately about re-homing our black lab. This sounds terrible, but the honest truth is that she just annoys me. I TRY to not be annoyed at her, but it's impossible. At this point, I think we'd all be happier if she was in a different home. She's a really sweet dog and she's well-trained, it's just that her personality and mine don't mesh anymore. She needs a home where she could be the center of attention and get the affection she deserves. I've put a few ads online like on craigslist and such, but I'm being very picky about who will get her. I don't want her ending up abused, in a shelter, or miserable. She gets a good life here, even if it's not great, and I won't give her to anyone unless they can provide her with a BETTER life than what she has here.

Anyhow, so I had a family respond to my ad and they wanted to come by and meet the dog. They have four kids, ages 6, 5, 3, and 19 months. They seemed really nice over the phone and sounded like they would be able to provide the kind of home we're looking for. We scheduled them to come by at 4:30pm on Wednesday.

They showed up at 4:15 and stayed until 6:15. *sigh* The parents were REALLY nice. They bonded right away with the dog. But their kids ... well, I just hope that I never let my children behave this way. (And if anyone who reads this ever catches that happening, PLEASE let me know so I can fix it.) First off, when you're trying to make a good impression on someone, you probably want to look your best, and if not your best, then at least decent. The kids (and parents for that matter) were in mis-matched, fairly dirty clothes. Not like they were poor or anything, just like they didn't really care what they looked like. Not that you need to dress up to go and visit a dog, but you'd think that when someone is wanting to find a "wonderful" new home for their dog, you'd want to make your home and everything that comes from it fairly presentable. Right?? Maybe I'm just expecting too much out of a family that has four kids ...

Anyhow, so their kids came right into the house and petted the dog. (That was good.) After about 30 seconds or so, the dog became uninteresting and the kids headed straight for my den and started playing with all my kids' toys. (Not so good.) The parents just sat down in the living room and were talking with me and getting to know the dog. (Good.) But they completely ignored their children, who were demolishing my den. (Bad.)

Now, if the kids had stayed in the living room with their parents, and then started to go toward the den and the parents had said, "Oh no kids, those are their toys, we aren't going to play with them," then I would have said, "Oh, it's no problem! Let them play!" Or if the kids had asked me, "Can we play with your toys?" then it would have been FINE!! But they didn't. They just headed straight for the toys and started playing. (Oh, and if I had already known these kids, if they were friends of ours or something, they wouldn't have needed to ask, but these people were strangers!) The 3 year old boy was putting lots of the little toys in his mouth. Then the kids found some balls and brought them back into the living room to throw for the dog. I think that between the three of us, their parents and I asked the kids to NOT throw the balls in the house (it riles up the dog) about 723 times. Not to mention, those were supposed to be KID balls, and not dog balls - but I didn't mention that to the family, so I guess that's my fault. But now all the balls that are meant only for the babies have dog slobber all over them. Fabulous.

Meanwhile, the parents are telling me about their last dog who also happened to be a black lab. They said that the dog was really big and jumped on the kids, so they had to put it on a chain in the backyard when the kids were outside playing or they were leaving to go to town. They apparently live outside of town on some acreage. The last time they had chained the dog to the stake in the yard, they had gone to town for a few hours and by the time they came back the dog had wound her chain up and twisted it in on herself and choked herself and they were very sad. (I'm thinking to myself - "even though they say that the only reason they chained the dog was so she wouldn't jump on the kids, what's to stop them from chaining my dog??")

The 6 year old boy came to me (ME!) several times to tell me that his brother wasn't sharing the toys with him. The toy he was referring to (the first time) was a set of dominoes. So I got up, went into the den, and suggested that one boy play with half the dominoes on the fireplace hearth (no fire, obviously) and one boy play with the other half of the dominoes on the table. They didn't like that idea, but I was fresh out of ideas after that so I just told them to share and walked away.

I also wanted to show the parents how the dog is well-trained to not snap or bite when you feed her treats. I had run completely out of dog treats, so I decided to grab the next best thing - a bag of pretzels. Ok, so maybe not the next best thing, but it's what I could grab quickly. So I showed them, using pretzels, how to make the dog sit, stay, shake, etc for her treat. I also showed them how gentle she was when she took treats from people's hands. So then of course all the kids wanted to try. That was fine! But then they started eating the pretzels. The parents said nothing. And the kids didn't just eat a FEW pretzels, oh no, they ate darn near the whole bag. All the while, they're also feeding the dog pretzels. Again, both the parents and I had to ask the kids several times to stop feeding the dog before they finally did. Their parents finally did tell them to stop eating the pretzels, but not because they were someone else's pretzels and they hadn't been polite and asked, but because they needed to save room for dinner. (!!!)

These folks were really nice, don't get me wrong. But they just stayed, and stayed, and stayed.

To their credit though, when it came time to leave they did make the kids pick up the toys in the totally trashed den.

After they left and my kids were in bed, I cleaned up the den. I clearly remember the 3 year old having tons of toys in his mouth. I picked all of Maezie's toys that she usually puts in her mouth and not knowing if the toys had been in the other kids' mouths, I decided I had better just wash them all. The balls that had been in the dog's mouth and the other toys of Kyleigh's that had been in the kid's mouth all got a good spray down with Lysol Disinfectant. Then just for good measure I ran the can of spray over all the toys on the floor in the den.

I'm pretty sure my house is going to smell like "Clean Breeze Lysol" for about the next year and a half because of all the spraying, but at least I feel better about it. Feel like it's cleaner in there.

So, I'm irritated. Something tells me that even though these folks were really nice, they are just not the right family for ME to pick for the dog. Not that the dog would necessarily be unhappy with them - she seemed to bond to the father right away - but because I don't think I could handle her going to live with them. And I'm irritated at their kids and at the parents for not controlling the kids. So they drove a 30 minute jaunt into town to see this dog and let me "decide" if it's the right fit for the dog or not, and I feel pretty bad about not choosing them, but I just don't think they're the right family for my dog.

Did I mention I'm irritated that I had to clean all those toys? ... Yeah.

Do I have a right to feel this way??


Kim, Aaron, Jake and Jack said...

YES! I would have done the same thing! You are such a good mommy and a good dog-mommy, too! ;) Love you!

Jenn said...

I would be irate with these people! You are totally justified. If I ever had to give a dog to another family, I would interview them just like you did. They better show up in nice clothes and their kids better be very well behaved. I can't believe (well I can, but I don't want to) that they would just let their kids all over the place. I tell you what, although they are friendly, I would not let them have my dog. You know why? One reason. The chain. I don't know how anyone could chain a dog. If they need to stop a dog from jumping, there are ways to do that including, oh I don't know, TRAINING it not to jump, or keeping it on a leash when you are outside with your kids. There is no excuse for leaving a dog chained (unattended) EVER!!!! That is why they make dog crates and kennels. If your dog can't stay out and about while you are gone (like mine can't) they need to be crate trained (like mine are). Under no circumstances should you give your dog to these people!!!!!

Oh and I believe that the way people's children behave has a correlation to the way they train (and treat) their pets.

Ok, I think my comment was almost as long as your post! :)

Niecey said...

I think you should go with your instinct on this one. The dirty clothes thing I think is irrelevant. We have 4 kids and don't wear great clothes - everything comes from yard sales and consignments stores and we're not fashion conscious so we probably don't match and things either. But we'd take great care of a dog, the clothes we wear has nothing to do with that. We take good care of our kids and would take care of a pet too.

The thing that stood out most to me was the chain thing. That's tragic, and it sounds to me like they were a little reckless in caring for that dog.

Anyway if it feels to you like they're not the right family for your pet, then they're not the right family. You get to be picky on this one. It's completely acceptable.

Kinsleys3 said...

Heh, I'm both laughing and cringing at your description of their visit. I'd feel the same way though! If the people aren't going to look after their kids & teach them to be polite, Lord only knows what would happen to the poor dog living with them!!