This story made my heart hurt

Update: Gunner has been adopted. He was in foster care for less than a week.

The other day I came across a post on the Facebook page of the Westside German Shepherd Rescue that started with the title:

A photo of the saddest German Shepherd was attached with this story. It broke my heart.  And days later I still can’t shake it off. Here is why…
When Gunner was turned in to the rescue yesterday, he didn’t know what he had done wrong. His tail was tucked between his legs even though volunteers were trying to cheer him up. The little boy in the family had little bags of treats for Gunner along with little handwritten notes. The poor child’s heart was breaking along with Gunner’s. It was difficult to look at either of them, the little boy’s face with tears streaming down his cheeks, and Gunner’s excruciatingly sad face.
We certainly weren’t feeling very charitable when we learned why Gunner was given up! His big “crime” that resulted in him losing his home was that he had gotten into the garbage and peed on the new couch! The dad would not listen to any suggestions, so for Gunner’s sake, we just wanted to get the paperwork done so we can find him a better home with someone who deserves a wonderful dog like him!Gunner is an incredible dog, he loves kids and is good with other dogs, although best to be with females. He has a face that will melt your heart, and we know he will find his home soon!!

 What hurt my heart was not only that this wonderful dog was given away because of what seemed like  minor infractions, but that a father made one of the worst mistakes of his life… separating a boy from his dog.


As a parent and psychologist – I know that this event will be a life defining moment for the young lad. And I have this terrible feeling that a parent that gives up on his dog this easily may also be infringing some kind of emotional pressure on his children that is beyond reason.  Yes, it is conjecture – but I can’t help but wonder.

Gunner will be adopted (and rumor is he has been already) and learn to love another family.  I hope he has another young boy to romp and play with and heal his heart.  But, for the young boy who showed more compassion in his acts of kindness than his parent, I know that this will be never forgotten.

I get that there are “two -sides to every story”.  People who I have met who work at dog rescues and shelters tell me this story is not unusual and sadly this scenario is repeated often.  Sigh.

What can we do?

First – Don’t buy or adopt a pet without understanding that there is a learning curve.  Dogs need to learn how to act within human parameters.  Humans need to learn that dogs are not people.  Educate yourself about dog needs, behaviors, different types of breeds, etc.

Secondly- Dogs need to be schooled and given care during their day. They need trainings, care and basic necessities. Just like what you get in a people classroom.  Seek out dog trainers, private dog walkers, etc.

Thirdly- Kids don’t forget. They may forgive. But they are making mental notes that will shape the rest of their lives from a very early age.  I wrote an article earlier about adopting a dog and when to know if your family is ready.  You can read it here.

Lastly – Recognize that life happens.  Families get displaced, people become ill, and dogs can bite. So, while this scenario broke my heart, there are a lot of reasons why people need to part from their furry family members that are (in my opinion) more understandable, although tough to digest.
If you are interested in the Shepherd Rescue where Gunner was surrendered to see if you are a match for many of the other dogs up for adoption – then please check out this link:
Saying a special prayer for kids and their dogs everywhere tonight.
Thanks for reading.
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