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"You're Selfish Because You Have Dogs"

I had the most bizarre encounter recently. While walking my dogs, a man stopped me and asked, "What do your dogs do?"

I was taken by surprise by this unusual question and, frankly, didn't really know what to say. So I simply answered, "Well, they don't do anything, as such. They're my dogs."

The man then asked, "Do you have children?"

I told him, "No, I don't."

He then commenced on a rant which went something like this: "Then you're selfish. You have no children, you just have dogs - and what do dogs do? How do they contribute to society? They can't work at a supermarket. If you had children they'd grow up to be contributing members of society. These dogs don't do anything!"

He continued to talk, but unfortunately I can't tell you what else he said, because it was about this time that I lost the plot.

Losing The Plot...Big Time!

I'm very embarrassed to admit that I did not handle the situation well at all.

I didn't keep my cool and calmly explain to him that my dogs were rescue dogs -  brought into this world by irresponsible humans, and left to die at shelters by other irresponsible humans. I didn't calmly explain that they and other dogs are the innocent victims of human selfishness, and we therefore have a duty to take them into our homes and look after them. I didn't calmly explain that taking abandoned dogs into your family was anything but selfish. And I didn't calmly explain that it's ridiculous to blame dogs for being unable to do things like get a job.

Nope, I'm ashamed to say that I didn't calmly explain any of that, but instead SCREAMED it at the top of my lungs. Honestly, something inside me snapped when that man told me I was selfish for having dogs, and I just let him have it.

I roared something to the effect of (you can insert your own swear words wherever you wish): "How DARE you? I was walking along minding my own business, and you think you have to right to accost me and accuse me of being selfish?!"

Despite being in something of frenzied trance, I did notice a lot of people stopping to stare. But I didn't care - I was boiling with rage, so I just kept yelling.

It's hard to say how long it all lasted for, but it seemed to be over pretty quickly. Anyway, I stormed off, absolutely fuming.

Dealing With Things Better

My point in sharing this rather embarrassing story is this: if you're ever confronted with someone making an irrational claim regarding you having dogs in your family, PLEASE don't fly off the handle. In other words, please do better than I did.

My reaction did nothing to help this man understand that his attitude towards dogs was skewed and unfair. I'm certain that all I achieved was to add another negative aspect to his already-distorted view: now, in his mind, not are people with dogs selfish, but (based on my behaviour) they're also insanely bad-tempered.

So I'm asking you to please learn from my mistake and do better than I did if ever you're unlucky enough to be accused of being selfish for having dogs in your family.

Why Such An Extreme Reaction?

In the aftermath, one of my thoughts was: "Wow! What an extreme response I had. Sure that foolish man was rude, and sure his accusation was absurd and unfounded...but my response was pretty over-the-top."

I reflected upon why this man's words made me so immediately and intensely angry, and quickly pinpointed the reasons why.

Those reasons aren't important for you to know (although they might interest you if you're a psychologist!) but I'm certain of one thing: that realising what made me so furious will help me do better in the future, so I'm confident that if I'm ever faced with a similar situation, I will explain, not explode.

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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