There Are No Bad Dogs, Only Bad Owners

There Are No Bad Dogs, Only Bad Owners

For the dog that lost its life, and the owner that let her down.
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My sophomore year of college, I lived in a ground floor off-campus apartment with a friend of mine. Our landlord lived above us, with his wife, two kids and three dogs; a Bernese Mountain Dog, a Dachshund and a shorthaired mix – Maggie. Maggie had a honey colored coat, long legs, a narrow snout and a perky tail. When my friend and I moved into the apartment, our landlord warned us to be slightly cautious around her, because she had a tendency to “fear bite.” Overall, we didn’t have much interaction with the dogs anyway, but they all seemed like perfectly pleasant canines.

One morning, as I was leaving my apartment to go to class, my landlord pulled into the driveway. He opened his car door, and the three dogs came charging out towards me. Being a dog lover, I crouched down to pet them. While the first two dogs greeted me cheerfully, Maggie chomped her teeth around my arm. Alarmed, I abruptly stood up – at which point she jumped around to the back of me, and…well…chomped on my backside. My landlord came over and apologized, and took the dogs inside. Bleeding profusely and in a hell of a lot of pain, I promptly hobbled my way to my school’s health services facility.

A nurse cleaned me up and bandaged the bites, and then told me that I was required to file a police report. All in all, the bites really weren’t that bad. They hurt like hell and I definitely had some teeth marks in me, but there was no severe damage. A couple bandages patched me up pretty well. But regardless of the severity, regulation was regulation. So a police officer came to my apartment later that evening, and I filled out a report about what happened. Only then did I find out that my landlord had just been to court a few months earlier because Maggie had bitten someone else. He was legally required to keep her on a leash at all times.

I chose not to press charges, because I held nothing against Maggie. If nothing else, I wanted to make sure that they wouldn’t punish her. She’s a dog. I didn’t know much about her, but I knew my landlord had adopted her from a shelter a year or two prior. Animals can come with emotional and behavioral baggage just like people – especially if they’ve spent a chunk of their life living in a cage. Regardless of how nice some shelters may be now, no dog ever actually wants to live in one.

The police told me that nothing would happen to Maggie unless the town itself chose to press charges, but she was quarantined for ten days to make sure she was clean of any diseases. I don’t even know where she was quarantined – at the vet, or in my landlord’s house. But about two weeks later, my landlord slipped a note under my door. It was a vet record, stating she had passed through quarantine with no issues. And she had been euthanized.

It’s hard to describe the devastation I felt. I ran into my friend’s room, showed her the slip of paper and cried my heart out. I was completely and utterly heartbroken.

I don’t believe Maggie deserved to die, despite whatever aggressive tendencies she may have had. I know that she was a perfectly pleasant dog around my landlord’s family. I don’t believe that she was a bad dog. But I do believe that he was a bad owner.

A dog-human relationship is supposed to be filled with love and trust. Your dog trusts you to take care of it, to love it. Dogs love you unconditionally. They are so good, so pure; they ask for nothing but love, affection, and maybe some treats. A place to call home. A dog only comes to distrust a person when it has been wronged by that person in some way. It is the owner’s job to protect their dog, to ensure their safety to the best of their ability. And if the owner can’t handle that, then it is also their responsibility to pass that dog on to someone who can.

My landlord had one simple task: keep Maggie on a leash around people. But he couldn't be bothered to follow a simple guideline to ensure her safety, and the safety of others. Whatever behavioral issues Maggie may have had might not have been my landlord’s fault – but they were definitely the fault of somebody. Maybe they were even a combination of human and situational faults. But somewhere along the way, someone let this dog down. And because of it, she lashed out at others.

I truly believe that if she had been placed in the proper environment, with the right person, Maggie would still be alive today, wagging her tail. But my landlord was not prepared to deal with the personal damages that Maggie came with. And instead of passing her on to someone who was, he failed her. And then he gave up on her. And it cost her life.

Don’t give up on your dog. Because they would never, ever give up on you.

Maggie – I know you’re a dog, and I know you can’t read, and I know you’re long gone but – I hope you know how truly sorry I am that you became the victim of this story. And I hope there are lots of treats up in doggy heaven.

(The very sweet boy featured in the cover photo is named Torro. He is a 1 1/2 year old Pit Bull mix who was abandoned several months ago. He is available for adoption from the NHSPCA in Stratham, NH. Please help him find his forever home! Visit the NHSPCA website for more information on Torro: http://www.nhspca.org/)

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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A Walk Through The Woods That Eased My Pain

After a week of constant pain, a walk through pine flatwoods helped me feel alive and at peace.

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A week of constant pain left me exhausted. All I wanted to do was lie in bed. I didn't want to go anywhere, but my husband wanted to work from the park, so we went. After sitting on the bench for a while, uncomfortable and aching, I remembered sometimes when you're in pain it helps to walk it off, so I decided to take the trail through the woods.

The woods at this park, like most parks in Florida, are made up of various tall pines and low-lying shrubs. It is called a pine flatwood. I walked the path slowly, not in a rush to get anywhere, just there to enjoy it. The pine left a sweet odor. Slash pines and longleaf pines towered above, their long straight trunks topped with long bright green needles that stood against the blue Florida sky.

My back still ached a little but felt much better, so I kept moving. The path weaved through the woods. Partially shaded by the trees. People passed me, but I didn't mind. They were busy exercising; I was busy enjoying. I loved the dense saw palmetto that lined the forest floor. Some woods are darker or mostly brown colored, especially on the floor that is often covered in fallen wood and leaves, but not these woods, these woods are vibrant shades of green, green that makes you feel alive. It made me feel more alive than I had in days.

Typically, when I take walks in the park, I spend time watching the birds, seeing which ones I can identify. This time on the trail there weren't many birds, so my attention was drawn to the pines, palmettos, and other plants instead. Often, these plants go unnoticed, serving as a backdrop to the more exciting parts of nature. But as I turned my attention to the trees, I noticed how stunning they were.

I looked up noticing how their branches spread in front of the sky. Then I looked at the endless palmettos, extending through the woods. The trees towered above me, yet they were a comfort, a shelter, that helped take my mind off the aching. The trees are still and peaceful, helping me to be still too. To stand confidently and breathe, and to also rest, clear my head, and know that it'll all be okay.

I walked through the trees for a while, not wanting to stop. It's important we all learn from trees. In their still, patience they know things that we fast-paced humans often forget in our busy lives. Life needs to be enjoyed, slowed down and still, our minds and our bodies. And when we do, it's healing. Walk slowly, take it in, notice the trees that we often forget to notice because they are still, but that doesn't mean they aren't the wisest of us all.

My aching was not cured, but as I returned from my walk, I felt at peace, rejuvenated, alive. Like the bright green towering pines, I stood proud and breathed in the fresh air.

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