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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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Don't Boycott Fairlife Because Of Fair Oaks Farms Just Yet

These shameful acts do not represent the dairy industry or agriculture as a whole.

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I am currently enrolled in Auburn University's College of Agriculture set to graduate in a short time. I am majoring in Poultry Production with a minor in Animal Science. I also work on a small cow-calf operation on the weekends and am completing an internship at a chicken processing plant. I am well-versed in areas of animal welfare, proper husbandry, and have many certifications and countless hours training in proper animal handling for all manner of livestock and meat-producing animals.

Because of this, my Facebook feed and other social media accounts are often filled with farming videos, new agricultural technologies, and the occasional Peta ad. Upon opening Facebook this week, I came across the Fair Oaks Farm scandal. I typically don't click on videos depicting animal abuse allegations without first doing a little research of my own.

Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) is an organization promoting the cessation of severe animal cruelty. A noble cause for sure, but as with many of these organizations, they often seek to demonize agricultural organizations by preying on the heartstrings of individuals who know little about farming or the industry as a whole.

Often, modern farming activities are misconstrued with either adulterated information, misguiding comments, or extremely old, outdated footage. While these actions recorded by ARM in the Fair Oaks Farm were very real instances, they were isolated.

These organizations never seek to show what humane treatment of animals looks like. They never aim to showcase good handling practices. For every minute of abuse, they videoed, how many hours of proper conduct was carried out?

Upper management, supervisors, and individuals in a position to stop unacceptable behavior are incapable of being everywhere at once. In addition, when offenders know they are being watched by such individuals, they will discontinue the behavior until they are unsupervised again.

Because of this, any company that handles livestock practices some form of the "See Something, Say Something" rule. This rule, under one of its many name variations basically means if an employee of any level sees another employee participating in behavior that is inhumane, they are required to report it immediately or risk termination. The undercover videographers were at one point, employed by Fair Oaks Farm.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but that makes the ARM videographers employees of Fair Oaks Farm which men they went through the "See Something, Say Something" training, and knew they were supposed to report it, but didn't.

How many times in the four-month observation of the ARM videographers could they have reported the actions of the men in the videos? How many times did they fail to notify the company of the responsible party's actions? How many of these cruel instances of abuse been prevented had they notified management and how much sooner could the culprit have been terminated? They allowed these activities to continue to transpire until they had enough evidence to smear the dairy industry. They inhibited proper company function and they disregarded the safeguard practices the company had in place.

Fair Oaks Farm is not blameless, and these acts should not go unpunished, but boycotting Fairlife isn't the way to do it.

Sure, boycotting it will pull money away from the company until they inevitably source milk from another dairy in response to the media and consumer's cry for change, but how does this help the dairy cattle at Fair Oaks or the employees who have abided by proper animal handling? When you boycott, the responsible farm and responsible parties fall out of the public eye and the abuse goes uncorrected.

Boycotting is forgetting.

How about instead of refusing to buy their milk, you push for changes in their employee vetting processes or make amendments to their animal welfare checks. Don't let people forget about Fair Oaks, and don't turn your back on a farm because of the actions of a few. Instead of pretending the company doesn't exist, we hold them to a higher standard. Then, we will see change.

But if you simply cannot continue supporting this company, I understand. It's a hard concept to come to terms with. But remember, these shameful acts do not represent the dairy industry or agriculture as a whole. Do not stop supporting the dairy industry and the countless dairy farmers nationally.

Do not assume this is normal behavior because it isn't.

The employees in question were terminated before the release of the video campaign because a responsible employee reported them.

Do not turn your back on agriculture or farmers, and do not idolize organizations like ARM who interfere with proper business practices in order to capture the information they want.

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