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By Published On: December 16th, 2010

cartoon of woman & manI was talking to a friend who recently went to meet the person she had been communicating with for months via phone & email. They’d never met in person but both had built a lovely fantasy of what their life together together would be like. They had much in common, respected the paths each other had taken in their lives and found each others pictures appealing.

Unfortunately once they actually were face to face with time together the reality turned out differently. The decision to end the budding relationship was mutual, and although disappointed, both realized they were not likely to see many blossoms in the future. Their fantasies were shattered but the shards of reality inflicted no real harm.

A not so dissimilar scenario plays out daily in the lives of dogs that are adopted by people who, with good intentions, find a dog either at the shelter or online, and create in their minds the perfect future they will share together. They will love each other, the dog will behave appropriately and respectfully in its new home, and any challenges will be sorted out quickly with a minimum of fuss and bother. When reality strikes, or as my mother once said, ‘the bloom is off the rose’, and the decision is made to end the relationship, the consequences for the dog may not be inconsequential.

A common reason dogs end up needing to be re-homed is that they never learned how to behave properly with people, either in a home or out in public. Their behavior may have been annoying, or it may have been dangerous. Either way, each experience they have with people and do not succeed at learning skills, can make their problems worse.

I am not advocating that anyone keeps a dog they feel unprepared to manage properly. Nor am I laying a guilt-trip on people who give up a dog. Indeed, being able to assess one’s lifestyle or environment and conclude that it is not the best for a dog, is important and may provide the dog with the opportunity to move on to a more appropriate home. It is likely however that a dog who is returned to a shelter or rescue and has not grown from the experience in its temporary home is running out of second chances.

Kevin Myers of will be considering how people can ‘keep it real’ when looking to adopt a new dog in the coming weeks.

It’s exciting to think and dream about adding a new dog to your life. Just remember that the snapshot you see of a dog, whether it’s an online profile or during a visit to the shelter, probably hides a few blemishes that in real life could end up being deal breaker if you are not prepared for them.

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