The Sting of Judgement

Over the past few days, I have been highlighting several different rescue dogs and rescuers who work to save Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in particular. I do want to say that my specificity is not to negate any of the impressive, overwhelmingly hard work those who rescue other breeds or any dog at all, but merely because my blog focuses on Cavaliers.

I started doing writing these highlights this week in honor of the UK’s Puppy Awareness Week and yesterday’s Puppy Mill Awareness Day, but I am going to continue because, over time, I have felt the sting of judgment. Judgement about rescue dogs, rehabbing puppy mill dogs, and against particular dogs that have been highlighted.

The comments have ranged from “not a normal Cavalier,” to “messed up rescues give all Cavs a bad name.” to (paraphrasing for grammar) ‘Dogs are supposed to get along with most all other dogs. I guess some are still not so affected by their bad situations they are still little loves. My experience has been different. That’s all. My neighbor’s rescues are all shitty snarling dogs. I recognize [rescue dogs] from a block away. Because they are barking banshees. What happened to mans best friend?’

Apparently, they aren’t “normal” Cavaliers if they aren’t big cuddlers. Or if they continue to have fears about certain body parts being touched first. Hey, I don’t know many dogs that like people to reach their hand over the top of the dogs head to pet it. Just because Callie wants you to put your hand to her side doesn’t make her “not normal.” Just because a Cavalier doesn’t love other dogs doesn’t make it “not normal.” Oh wait, do people love everyone else?

What about Charlie? No matter how much I socialize him, both with and without Callie, his instincts are always going to be a little fearful, and he is always going to look to me, his other mom, or Callie for assurance. Some of that is because he is a puppy mill dog and we don’t know his genetic background, some is because he spent ages 7 – 11 weeks on trucks, back and forth with brokers, and finally to the rescue. And some of that is because when we got him at 3 months he was riddled with parasites and then broke his rib and we couldn’t bring him out and about in that 3-4 month period like we wanted to. Is he “not normal”? Or is he a kind of normal and also a product of his circumstances?

STOP. Just STOP calling rescue dogs of any kind “not normal,” “messed up,” or somehow otherwise wrong in some way. As though the dog had any choice in the matter. 

A response from Judith, the owner of Nellie who we met earlier in the week, was perfect, “One thing I learned, while re-socializing Nellie, is that a dog’s social “wiring” is learned between the ages of 8 – 12 weeks. So for a dog rescued out of a scary or intimidating situation, it can take a long time to overcome that early conditioning. I’ve tried to de-sensitize Nellie to other dogs and let her learn that she can still be safe, but I recognize that she will never be comfortable interacting with them.I try to alert other humans that I have a very dog-reactive dog. This may be why people are telling you, “my dog is a rescue” — it’s to let you know why the behavior is happening.”

I try to alert other humans that I have a very dog-reactive dog. This may be why people are telling you, “my dog is a rescue” — it’s to let you know why the behavior is happening.”

And another, as Brittney Wilk said, “What happened to man’s best friend? I’ll tell you what happened to man’s best friend. The greedy man who only cares about money in his pocket has neglected and abused and broke dogs- he fights them, he reproductively abuses them, he tests chemicals on them, he breeds them for murder, for slaughter, for sick entertainment…. he breaks them. And there are a few lucky ones who somehow stay strong enough and have an angel on the other side to help them… they are broken, they are damaged, they need help but not ONE BIT of it is their fault. So don’t even go there about ‘messed up rescues.’ They are not messed up, but they are damaged at the hands of HUMANS.”

Not normal… The ones who aren’t normal are the people who can’t even take the time to understand that not all dogs are going to be their image of a perfect dog. These are the people that allow bad breeding to continue, that allow puppy mills to continue.

The more judgment I hear, the more I will write. Those of us who know these dogs know how badly they need all of us to fight for them.



6 thoughts on “The Sting of Judgement”

  1. I can read so much frustration here Molly, but don’t let other’s ignorance get to you. If they have no concept of canine body language, then that is for them to correct.

    Touching Ray’s head just after we got him would have resulted in an almost 80lbs dog jumping up and barking in your face. There is a specific greeting etiquette in the canine world which is wise to know…. and head touching is not a part of the initial greeting. Also of course a strange hand going out of sight over their head is an invitation for a reaction.

    As for barking? I am sure that we both know that dogs bark for a reason. Identify that reason and it could well be resolved (again ref. our Ray)

    Finally, if canine critics cannot comprehend that rescue dogs have had some degree of trauma in their past that it most certainly affected their view of the world; if they cannot understand that a dog’s upbringing will be a major influence in its attitude towards people and other dogs; if they cannot grasp that the dog’s past will influence it’s future… then I sincerely hope that those individuals never have children.

    There is nothing wrong with a rescue dog that some education/guidance, patience and loads of TLC cannot resolve… and one can end up with the most loving dog as a result.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Colin – thank you. I am feeling loads of frustration right now, and a lot of it is coming from a particular attack on FB on rescue dogs that I was highlighting that day.
      And for dogs that are described by some rescues, who are so intent on honesty, in such an overwhelmingly poor way that the dog has little chance of finding a home.
      Ray is a brilliant example of how much hard work, love, education, and respect for the dog himself, can change the “broken” – as any dog may be. Your story with Ray helps me push forward with Callie and Charlie, knowing that there is more I can teach them, more help I can give.
      Thank you again for your wonderful response.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome Molly! I don’t want to “hijack” your Post here, but if you know anybody who is interested in reading about the pros/cons of adopting a rescue, then please refer them to my book which documents my first 18 months with Ray. “Who Said I was up for Adoption?”

        All profits from the book will be directed to our local Humane Society, who rescued Ray and made him an adoption possibility!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Molly – I’ve been lucky with my pit bulls, 2 of the 3 weren’t exactly social butterflies either, in that we’ve met very little, and only low-key discrimination here in Virginia. Even then, with a little civil conversation I can see people’s minds crack open, even if just a little. I used to tell people I don’t like all people so I don’t expect them to like all other dogs. Also, most “normal” dogs nowadays have lost their natural social skills. They don’t understand the body language cues that would alert them that this new dog is uncomfortable and go running up to them anyway and get in their faces all excited. The “normal” dog might be friendly; they are most definitely rude. I asked people if they’d like to be greeted that way by a stranger. As for the general FB dribbling, oh, girl, don’t even engage there. People love to get a rise out of others on social media, whether or not they actually mean what they are writing (personal experience, oftentimes they don’t). My best advice, stick to your positive tone and your message will get through to more people. What you have to say is far too important to change to match others’ negativity 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You speak the truth!
      I wouldn’t engage/or at least not be so frustrated from engaging on social media if it hadn’t been a direct attack on two dogs I happened to be highlighting that day.
      Those dogs didn’t deserve any of it. One was from a hoarding situation, another a puppy mill. And I finally put two-and-two together and realized that the person doing the most attacking was actually a BY-Breeder. She was pissed that people would ask for evidence of health testing and, when she didn’t provide it, saying that it wouldn’t guarantee anything, people would choose to get a rescue instead.
      But it took me a while to get all that info out of her…
      I love what you say re: “normal” dog behavior – so few people understand how dogs SHOULD act with each other. And when they tell me that their dog is friendly, especially if we are talking about friendly with puppies, I watch the whole time very closely. You know why? Because a whole lot of very friendly dogs HATE puppies. Because puppies are rude, they jump on the dogs, in their faces, etc. I’m watching closely, not because I think their dog might be “mean,” but because I think their dog may well not want an obnoxious puppy jumping in its face despite what the owner says! (Also, we are obviously working on this with Charlie.)
      Thank you again for supporting my positive message, reminding me of that, and for spreading positivity with pit bulls, whether they like other dogs or not. I can’t handle the breed with my fibromyalgia, but I have a seriously big place in my heart for pitties ❤️.


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