Richard Dawkins wrote a bestselling book called The God Delusion. I won’t get into that debate here, but I can talk about a sad modern-day problem: the ‘dog delusion’.
A delusion is a false belief which persists despite contradictory evidence. And the dog delusion is the myth of the Perfect Dog (aka the ‘Disney Dog’). The reason it matters is because, for those who suffer with this delusion, the reality of dog ownership can be a huge surprise. When Lassie turns into Lawsuit, the dog is on a one-way trip to the pound.
The Disney Dog
Sweet, loyal, always by your side. Ready to defend you with his life if needs be. Can understand your tears and your words. Steps in when the school bully is after you. Even the ‘naughty’ Disney dogs, such as Marley and Beethoven, are adorable in their naughtiness.
The Real Dog
Toilet training issues, problem barking, separation anxiety, aggression. These are serious problems, and thankfully, can often be remedied.
Unless we begin to see dogs for what they are, rather than some idealised version of themselves, people will continue to turn in their dogs to shelters when the cute puppy becomes a naughty adolescent. Let’s stop the madness. Be honest about your challenges with your dogs and then seek the help you need. That way, when your naughty pooch turns into a well-trained and sociable one, you will feel like you’ve ‘earned’ him. We don’t return naughty children to the womb , so why is it so acceptable to return a difficult dog?
Did you have any surprises when you first got your dog? How did you meet the challenge?