by Pat Becker
Illustrated by Sharon Brown-Judy
Total Publishing And Media, 2015.
74 pages, hardcover. $24.95.
Reviewed by Ruth Steinberger
There are animal welfare advocates who believe that the quality of the adoption process dictates the welfare of homeless animals. These advocates see a bleak future for pets who are rehomed through open door policies, with no screening, little to no education of adopters, and often no adoption fee, to move animals out the door of a shelter faster.
The animals’ view of people (and our vehicles, appliances, furniture, and animal care and handling devices) meanwhile may be tainted by experiences of abject cruelty. Their reactions to everyday sights and smells may be mired in fear.
There are others who believe that any chance at life is better than none, and that having a certain percentage of animals who will become victims of homelessness a second or third time is justified by the presumed-to-be-greater number who find homes.
Author was actress
Oklahoma City author and radio and television personality Pat Becker bridges the gap between the two sides in her hardbound book The Search for Paradise, The Fictionalized Ordeal of Two Quite Real Dogs.
Known for starring roles as an actress in Batman (1966), A Guide for the Married Man (1967), and In Like Flint (1967), Becker has more recently appeared in the PBS World of Dogs Biography Series and hosts Dog Talk TV on KAUT-Oklahoma City.
Dixie & Minnie
In The Search for Paradise Becker offers a dogs’ eye view of neglect, abandonment, hunger and betrayal, succinctly describing how those experiences shaped the behavior of two of her now deceased dogs, Dixie and Minnie, who represent all dogs from stressed backgrounds who suddenly land in someone’s home.
“Separated from her puppies by a cruel farmhand, the grieving Brittany pointer Dixie comes to the aid of a traumatized English pointer puppy,” summarizes the back cover of the plot. “The sad little pup’s deceased mother had been Dixie’s best friend. Dixie vows to her lost friend that she will take good care of her orphaned puppy. Leaving behind the farm that had brought them so much suffering, the two dogs embark on a journey that Dixie says will lead “to a better place…a wonderful place…Paradise.”
The underlying message includes that without preparation for the survival-based behavior that abused dogs often present, an adoption may become a failed attempt at rehoming, or even worse, a new round of abuse. It is easy to understand the need to escape when one understands what a dog may feel is at stake, and why damaged walls and doors, or broken windows, may be a predictable outcome when no training is given to the new family. Creating a successful transition into a loving home for dogs who have never been in one should not be left to chance. This book is a great start toward creating successful adoptions.
Becker points out how the failure to understand dog behavior leads to predictable issues that place dogs who are deserving of a loving home back into harms’ way. Her hope is that better educated adoption agencies and rescue organizations will create better educated, and more understanding, adopters.
“Dogs deserve a life”
“Dogs deserve a life as opposed to an existence, and many people in this world are callous about this and irresponsible in their role,” says Becker. “After Dixie and Minnie had departed this life, I often thought of them and how much they had enriched our lives. And I couldn’t help but think how a slight turn of events could have cost both of these dogs and us this rewarding experience.”
No matter where you stand on the sensitive subject of how dogs should be rehomed, if you are part of a rescue organization, it is vital to understand why “dogs behave as they do,” and to prepare adopters to sensibly transition dogs into a new home that may to them be a strange and scary place.
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