Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thank God I Am Not A Guardian

As most of you are aware, we have had very trying times here, i.e, the worst ice storm in history.  What you don't know is that last week we suffered a great personal tragedy as well.  Being a responsible dog owner is not always easy, especially when the time comes to make the decision as to when it is time to let them go.

In The Beginning...

Seger was one of those dogs that instantly won your heart.  He was our first AKC Champion, our first herding titled dog...a new beginning for me in the sport of purebred dogs.  I cried tears of joy when his breeder placed him in my hands that day, excited and anxious for the journey to begin.  Throughout his life, the decisions I made as his owner were not always easy, nor clear cut.  But they were mine to make:  not the decision of some third party, as would be the case if I were his guardian.

The Animal Rights lunatic fringe, such as PETA and the HSUS and the ASPCA, would love for the term owner to be eradicated from our language and our laws.   Instead we would be known by the fuzzy-wuzzy term, guardian or caretaker.  This clever word-play has been subliminally implanted into our everyday language, making the word OWNER a dirty word.  Owner, as relating to animals,  is being twisted into meaning we are callous, uncaring, and abusive.   According to the ARs, guardian is a friendlier word and, according to them, would actually cause people to treat their animals better...

Taking Away Our Rights...

The term "guardian" already has definitions in the law.  Generally, it means that you have no control or decisive power over the PERSON. Decisions as to care, especially.   A third party, usually a judge, is asked to make those decisions.  Can you imagine having a judge, or worse yet, some animal control board having the power to tell YOU what you can or cannot do for your animals??

Can you imagine having to postpone life-saving surgery for your dog and asking permission from some third party?  Worse still, imagine having the decision of when to euthanize being taken away, prolonging the suffering of the animal while some third party decides on whether or not you are allowed!

These scenarios are not far-fetched.  Nor are they the product of my grief stricken state of mind.  These scenarios can happen if we allow the AR lunatic fringe to take complete control of our society.  They will not rest until animals have "rights".  The right to not be eaten, the right to NOT reproduce, the right to NOT be hunted, and the most absurd, the right to NOT be OWNED.  The most important aspect to all of this is that under the Constitution of the United States of America, we, the people, have property rights:  the right to own property.  Animals are not human beings, they are our property.  It is beyond imperative that we hold onto that distinction, or our rights will be gone, and thus, the relationship with our animals as we know it today with it.

In The End...

Seger became very ill, very fast.  One day, he was herding sheep and the next morning he became so sick he could barely stand.  I helped him into the van and drove like a maniac to my vet, crying "Please, God, don't let him die".  Upon the exam, we discovered a tumor on his liver.  I knew what that meant:  our time together was limited.  I was faced with decisions that I didn't want to make, but I knew I had to.  For him. 

After he was stabalized, and spent a couple of nights at the clinic, I decided to bring him home and enjoy what time we had left together.  It was all so uncertain.  All I wanted was for him to get better, but I knew in my heart that that would never be.  The tumor was too large and I refused to subject him to drugs to try to shrink it that would only diminish the quality of life he had left.  His quality of life was more important than my selfish desire to hold onto him.

Seger loved being home, laying in his favorite spots around the house and just hanging out.  He was still weak, but happy and content.  I could see it in his eyes.  It was as if we were "making peace" with each other, enjoying each moment to the fullest. 

On Monday morning, March 2, Seger became ill again.  He refused to eat, and by looking into his eyes, I knew it was time.  My heart fought it...I didn't want to let him go, but I knew I had to.  The decision was mine to make, not anyone else's.  It's the hardest decision for an owner to make, but also the most loving and unselfish.  The drive to the clinic was painfully long and short, all at the same time.  Long because it gave me too much time to remember each moment in his life that we had shared.  And at that moment, remembering those times made me sad because I knew there would be no more moments for us.  Short because even though I knew I was doing the right thing, the time was passing too quickly for what I was about to do.  I questioned myself, "Am I doing the right thing?  Is it really time to say goodbye?"

I walked Seger down the long hallway to the exam room we had been to many times before.  Suddenly, he wasn't the adult Rottweiler at the end of his life, he was the 9 week old puppy in my arms, making his first vet visit.  When we reached the small room, I laid down on the cold floor next to my Seger-Man, holding him and hugging him and remembering those moments we had shared.  I was beyond being consolled and I didn't care.  Then, just as he had done so many years before when his breeder placed him lovingly in my arms, he raised his head up and licked away my tears for the last time.

In the very last moment of his life, he was taking care of me.  And in return, as his owner, I did the same for him.  Without interference, without the ARs permission...I, as his owner, his master, made the decision that was best for him.  Guardianship language under the law would have taken this decision out of my hands.  Guardianship language does not change how much, or how little, we care for our animals.  It, instead, takes away our rights, as their owners, to make the decisions on how and when and what kind of care we give them.

I am proud to say that I am a dog owner.  It isn't always easy, but I will fight to keep it from being any other way.

In Memory of "Seger", CH Von Riddle's Turn The Page HT RN PT CGC TT
May 23, 2001-March 2, 2009


  1. I guess I have been fortunate, in real life and among friends of my blog, that they consider themselves loving owners without any hesitation and consider "guardian" silly or even subversive. Beautifully told.

  2. When my first rottweiler was diagnosed with lymphoma and I told friends and family, the reactions I got were varied. A few told me that whatever I decided to do was the right thing to do. We had already made the decision to do chemo. We had nearly a month to make that decision as it took a month for the cancer to progress enough to show up on tests. But I knew when I called my vet to check my dog out as she was "off" and acting "old" and she told me that one of her lymph nodes was different. I knew she had lymphoma. I was her owner, I knew my dog.
    A number of people told me to not do chemo. They told me that it would be cruel. I asked them if they had any first hand experience with a dog on chemo. None of them had. They were basing their opinion on what they had heard about chemo for humans. Even my own mother told me to not waste our money on treatment when we could get new furnature with that money.
    My dog lived 20 months longer. She and I learned utility and competed against some of the top obedience dogs in the country. She earned herding titles too. I am sure if you asked her, she would have said that she enjoyed those 20 months. There were a handful of days during those 20 months that things were not going well, but she pulled through.
    I do not regret doing chemo and having those 20 months. But I am afraid what would have happened if I wasn't her owner, but her guardian. Would we be allowed to do chemo? If so, would we be allowed to train and compete in obedience and herding? I know I got a lot of comments from people who thought I was nuts to work a dog with cancer instead of letting her lay on the couch.
    I tried letting her lay on the couch and she tried to eat the couch. To me that was a sure sign that my working dog wanted to spend her time working. Would I have had that option if I was just her guardian? I doubt it.

  3. I have long objected to the whole idea of
    guardianship. I'm very sorry if it took Seger's death to show some people how much guardianship could interfere with the bond between OWNER and dog. But if some people get the point, then he will not have died in vain.

  4. I think the guardian issue is even more dangerous than what you describe - and calculated: Think about it, if the "owner" no longer has power to make these decisions, who does? Animal control? We know how well they hold up the interests of animals. HSUS? PETA? Seems to me many of the entities pushing "guardian" lingo are those who want to wrest control from individual pet owners and put it in the hands of bureaucratic institutions that they themselves control.

  5. No one knows how to care for my dogs better than I do. No one cares for my dogs more than I do.

    I'm so sorry for your loss. Just realize the end is not the end and you will meet him again. My mom used to tell me, "Priests & ministers don't know everything. Heaven wouldn't be heavenly without all our little animals there with us" I couldn't agree more. Hugs

  6. So sorry about your loss but well said. I was in your shoes a few years ago with my English Bulldog JR. We spent a year treating his hot spots with antibiotics only to find out he had cancer. Our vet had no idea it was cancer either. He was happy, ate well and got around just fine. Unfortunately, he was loaded with tumors that could not be felt by touch. We made the same decision as you and have not regretted it at all. I could not image if that decision had been taken out of my hands.

  7. So sorry for your loss. It takes such great courage to say good-bye. May the earth lay lightly upon 'Seger'.

  8. I'm coming to this late, but my sympathies are
    no less heartfelt. I've been where you were with Seger several times, and each time, though the final decision was informed by consultation with the vet, I never questioned that it was my responsibility to decide, because I alone knew my dog (or cat) best. I
    cannot imagine someone else telling me I must
    or must not keep this dog alive or not or subject him or not subject him to thus-and-such
    treatment. But that is exactly what guardianship is about. And it isn't just about
    the end of a pet's life. As a guardian, you
    don't get to choose whether your pet will be
    castrated or not or what his vaccination
    schedule should be or whether you must take him
    every month to a groomer or are allowed to groom him yourself, etc. etc. and so forth.
    Even the collar and leash your dog wears
    will be subject to state approval or disapproval if you are the guardian. And just
    to REALLY add insult to injury, when it comes
    to pet guardians, unlike child guardians, the
    pet guardians still pay all the bills. Taxation without representation.