The Nursing Home Theory

From a January 2015 Tazewell ARC Facebook post:

“Today at a farm supply store in Tazewell I met a crusty old codger who embodies every horrific reason our area is one of the most backwater, third-world nightmares in the nation when it comes to animal welfare. I had a car load of puppies on their way to be vetted for transport, and a store employee and I were discussing the fact that they had been dumped. The old man added his two cents that he didn’t know why the people didn’t just take them to the pound. Very patiently and kindly at first, I explained the local kill rates, and that a pound exists to control the stray population and prevent the spread of rabies, but I did say that a pound is not there to serve as litter removal for people who won’t spay and neuter their pets. I added that taxpayers end up shouldering the brunt of expenses involved in killing dogs that people so casually take to the pound because they think puppy disposal is a service our government should offer the same way it offers disability checks and welfare.

His response was that the solution to the expense was to just hook up a hose from somebody’s car exhaust and that way the taxpayers wouldn’t be out any money, because dead is dead, right?

After I explained that this was not only illegal, but that karma is a nasty thing and maybe his grandkids will attach his ventilator to their car exhaust when he becomes an inconvenience to them (because dead is dead, right?) I went on to point out that nursing homes are mighty full these days, and they’re filled with the generation that taught their sons and daughters to drown puppies and kittens in the creek. And that I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think it’s reaping what you sow. Suffice it to say the poor old ornery beast left the farm supply store with his ears on fire.”

So. We are taught (or should be taught) to respect our elders. But what if our elders have instilled toxic values and damaging ideologies into us, and we’re now passing them on to our own children? No reason to disrespect our elders even still, but we’d better wise up. Just because they are older doesn’t necessarily mean they are right, not about everything.

Animals were placed on this earth to function in exquisitely designed roles. We here at ARC firmly believe that one role is teaching us about life, love, and loss at a very early age. If, during that same early age, we witness a careless disregard for living beings and a mentality that if it’s an inconvenience, best dispose of it. . .well, we’re going to grow up with that mindset and it’s going to apply to more than just our teaching tools, the animals.

If a man decides that two small, elderly dogs he’s had since they were pups are no longer wanted because he suddenly realized he has grandchildren, and those two dogs disappear from the home for the sake of convenience, what lesson has he just taught his grandchildren? We venture a guess that when this old man is half senile and peeing down his own leg, an inconvenience and burden to his family, those same grandkids are going to call on the education he provided when they were youngsters: if it inconveniences you, get rid of it. So off to the nursing home he goes, when his family would be more than capable of providing care for him at home.

nursing homeHarsh? Yes. But real. Animal welfare is more than just a “dog problem.” It’s a social issue. If we instill in our childrens’ minds the preciousness of life and demonstrate commitment and loyalty to those more vulnerable than ourselves from a very early age, we’ve planted the seeds of integrity that will bear fruit in our own twilight years.

As for those languishing away in convalescent homes, too frail to live alone but not suffering from any medical condition that requires skilled nursing, no doubt some are true victims of a younger generation’s selfishness. But the others–the old man who instructed his son every time Daisy had a litter to “take ’em pups to the pound”–does he ever make the connection? Does he ever wonder how his last days would have been spent if only he’d demonstrated for his son a bit more compassion and personal responsibility?

Think about it.



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