“We Sent Him off to a Nice Farm”

March 19, 2008 at 2:43 am 5 comments

My husband Mark sent me a link today to an article from my favorite sources, The Onion.  The article pokes fun at Brett Favre’s recent retirement in a story that describes how has Brett was “sent off to live on a farm.”

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Mocking a rich, famous, football player by saying that the only humane thing to do for him in his retirement is to put him out of his misery is entertaining. But sadly, the metaphorical basis of the story is a custom that’s still executed followed in today’s society. 

A farm can be a wonderful place for a dog to live.  Chores to do.  Space to roam in.  A caring family that looks after you.

Or maybe not….

In today’s world there are far more high-energy dogs than farms for them to live on.  It’s rare to find a farmer who doesn’t have all the dogs he wants or needs – if not more.

Still – the myth that there’s a farm waiting to take in every wild, untrained, out-of-control dog whose owner is tired of it survives.

Do irresponsible people really dump dogs off along roads in rural areas because they believe that farm families will take the dogs in and care for them?  Do they really believe that on a farm, one more dog won’t be a burden?

Do they truly believe that their dog’s wild misbehavior won’t be a problem around children and free range chickens?  Don’t they care that, even if he’s taken in, the dog may be killed by heavy equipment, agricultural chemicals and other hazards of farm life?

When I was young, parents sometimes told children that the dog had been “sent off to live on a farm” after it was killed.  This story could be used if the killing was accidental or if the dog was put down for problem behavior.

And even as kids, we didn’t believe it.

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Farmers want and need real working dogs.  Trained stockdogs.  Livestock guard dogs that spend their puppyhood being socialized to sheep instead of people.  Trained hunting dogs to help hunt birds or control vermin.

And except in the very rarest of cases, these aren’t the dogs that end up dumped by the side of the road.

The dog that won’t come when it’s called.  The dog that bit a child.  The dog that was difficult to house break.  The bitch that carries a litter of unwanted puppies.  The old dog that needs expensive veterinary care.

These are the unfortunate four-legged souls who get tossed out like roadside trash.  And even the worst of them deserves a kinder fate.

Entry filed under: dog, dogs, rescue. Tags: , , , .

A Lovely Waste of Time I Hate Jon Katz Too

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Audie's Gramma  |  March 21, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    I was going to send this link to you as soon as I got home; I get The Onion on my palm treo. Beat me to it.

    When I was teaching college, I actually had a student –sweet kid — wax lyrical about his childhood pet — Snoopy, yes, Snoopy — who “went to live on a farm” after the boy went off to school in the East.

    His classmates stared, round-eyed with amazement, but with an undertone of the cruelty of the young. The clear message: “Are you going to tell him? Because if you don’t, we will.”

    So I told the boy about The Farm Where Dogs Go to Run and Run and Run.

    He did not believe me. Said he would go see Snoopy the next time he went home.

    After the break, he did not speak of it again. I imagine a rather chilly Thanksgiving.

    The Farm is a fate for dogs that goes back at least a century, if we are to judge by literature.

    It says as much about parents’ regard for their children as it does for their treatment of the “family dog.”

  • 2. Luisa  |  March 23, 2008 at 7:41 am

    “Dogs in the country have fun / They run and run and run”

    Thanks to suburban spread, the area where I keep my sheep isn’t as rural as it once seemed. Back in the day, though, the groves around the farm were a popular spot for dog-dumping. That’s how I got my first pit bull — some soulless idiot dumped a litter of six- or seven-week-old pups in the orange grove north of the farm, and one morning when my good border collie and I were watching the sheep graze, across the lower pasture came this.. thing [I wasn't even sure he was a dog, at first] that turned out to be a skin-and-bones little pup covered with cuts and dirt and fleas. Grew up to be the absolute best dog in the history of the universe.

    There were [at least] two other pups in the litter, the farm manager said. One was killed by a car and the other disappeared into the grove. Two days after my boy arrived on the farm, temperatures dropped to crop-destroying lows — thank God the little critter showed up when he did.

    So once in a very rare while a dumped dog may land on his feet. The rest of the time [which is almost all of the time], a dumped dog will die of thirst or starvation, or freeze to death, or get killed or badly injured by a car, or fall prey to coyotes, or be shot.

    As you say: even the worst dogs deserve a kinder fate.

  • 3. Marjorie  |  March 25, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    When it comes to dogs, the euphemism “went to live in the country” is not too dissimilar from the phrase, “bought the farm.” Both, historically, involve the death of the individual. Presumably, misguided parents created the former in order to ease the blow about their own negligence in acquiring and/or raising the family dog (then “getting rid of it”). (It should put the kids on notice, dontcha think?)

    In the greater scheme of things, I suppose it’s not that much different than attributing gifts to Santa Claus. (No. Relax. I’m not saying there is no Santa Claus. But if you know that Santa will visit you this year, maybe this is a good time to stop reading.) I think parents should get in the habit of telling the (harder) truth, rather than opting for the (softer) lie. Children do as we do…not as we say. And once the truth comes out, there can be resentment. Break it to them easy, though.

    On the other hand, ACTUALLY dumping dogs in the country was something I’d hoped was more lore than reality, these days. So you can imagine my disappointment when I met a lady not too far from my beach home in the country, where my husband and I had recently taken-up residence.

    I was out for a walk with my own pooch, and noticed she was having difficulty corralling one of her small dogs, who was simply oblivious to her pleas. She explained that she acquired both of them after they were evidently “dumped” along our long, nearly uninhabited, country cul-de-sac. (There are a couple of houses near the main crossroad, then nothing all the way down to the waterfront, where about a dozen homes come into view.) It’s…shall we say…’unlikely’ that such small dogs would independently find their ways to our remote, little community. Besides, apparently no one came a-lookin’ for them.

    Even I had the (common sense?) notion that if someone was going to do something so horrific as dump a dog in the country, they’d at least be abandoning a sturdy, athletic dog that might have a chance of surviving long enough for a kind-hearted person to rescue them. This woman’s dogs were fluffy little things. Maybe Shih-crosses? Yorkie-somethings? …Tiny. No match for the coyotes around here. Heck…no match for the raptors, probably.

    I grew up spending a great deal of time in the country (mostly at riding stables). So maybe that gives me the same “can you believe people think this way” incredulity. But being primarily a city slicker, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if many city folks see a field or a wooded area and can’t differentiate between privately-owned land and a public conservation area. I own a small island, and I’ve arrived, ready for a quiet weekend at the cottage, only to find people picnicking, as though they have every right to do so. (I wonder how they’d like it if I drove to their house, and set-up my picnic on their front lawn?)

    As with all things in life, responsible dog ownership is an issue of education, more than anything. I think most people are (lazy, selfish, ignorant, obtuse) generally decent, for the most part. They just don’t know any better. I think it’s sad that most people don’t even attempt to see the other person’s (or dog’s) side of things. I suspect the kinds of people who dump dogs in the country wouldn’t have a clue about the true consequences of their actions unless they purchased a farm, themselves. It’s sad that it takes such an extreme wake-up call to knock some people to their senses. One of the hardest sells I have with dog owners is the concept of being “considerate” of others. (I wonder why that is? It certainly wasn’t that way when I was growing up; when consideration for one’s neighbours was paramount.)

    As for the whole “taking the dog to live in the country” thing, that is almost always code which indicates the dog was killed. People don’t tend to announce their plans to dump a dog in the country. (It’s illegal, dontchaknow.) I think it’s probably different kinds of folks who do the actual dumping, and those who merely refer to their deadly decisions as “going to live in the country.” Either way, though…there’s no happy ending magically awaiting dogs “in the country.”

  • 4. Steverman  |  August 26, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    When I was all of 5 years old, my aunt and uncle (that’s Awnt, not Ant, or course), who lived in Acton and raised Collies, gave my folks a puppy. I think the thought was that every kid needed a dog. I think it was part of the whole Lassie thing, where the kid obviously bonded with the dog, and could carry on conversations with it, and could get the kid off the thought about how his parents weren’t going to be pumping out any siblings he could play with.

    This dog, which I unimaginatively named Lassie (I was 5) was a sweet tempered collie, so it likely also wanted me to have sibs, so it could herd them and guard them from the wolves that lived in the greater Boston area. This was years before there was a coyote problem in the greater Boston area. Unfortunately for me and the whole bonding thing, my parents never grasped the notion of shots, so the dog disappeared one fine day, being sent off quite suddenly to live that that damned farm we’ve been talking about here. My father came up with a whole cock and bull story about what the place was like, but it just didn’t make any sense to me. I don’t think my mother took part in any part of the story, but then she didn’t take part in much of my childhood. I was 6 or 7 before I verified that ‘the farm’ consisted of them taking the dog to the vet to be put down. My aunt and uncle moved to New Hampshire, and continued to raise collies, and I think that they offered other dogs, but by that time, I was way over collies, and my parents still being cheap, so we never got another.

  • 5. pit bull breaders  |  September 19, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Claims that“ pit bull” attacks decrease in cities or towns after“ pit bull” bans or restrictions are passed are specious. Since“ pit bull” is not a recognized breed to begin with, it is impossible to know what breeds were actually attacking in the first place to know if attacks by those breeds have decreased. It may simply be that in those towns where“ pit bull” bans have been passed, victims of dog attacks, law enforcement, and Animal Control have simply stopped labeling every dog that attacks a “pit bull”

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