“Gift” Makes You Mad for a Good Cause

A short film in support of giving & adopting dogs wisely

By Leslie Phelan

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I was totally confused until the last five seconds of this video. Then, when it all clicked, my heart broke a little.

In the beginning, a cute, floppy-pigtailed girl is brought home by a man and presented to his daughter on her birthday. At first, everyone is besotted and the family appears complete. I kept watching.

As the novelty that the cute little girl once held wears off and she begins to appear a bit neglected in the urgency of everyone else’s priorities, I’m thinking, “Someone play with her! She’s clearly bored and it’s going to get her into trouble!”

After giving up on getting any attention from any of the people in the house, the little girl does exactly what I predicted she would, and makes a mess of the den. “No surprise there,” I mutter to myself as I keep watching, now desperate for someone to engage her. They don’t. They just get mad about the messy den.

Then, the next thing that happens is the dad lures her by her dolly she’s always carrying around out to the same car her drove her home in just days before. She jumps in, excited for a car ride and with no idea as to where they are headed. When they reach a clearing in the middle of a long, quiet road, I feel my stomach turn.

“He’s gonna leave her,” I think to myself. “He’s going to abandon that little girl in the countryside because no one in the house feels like paying any attention to her.” I didn’t know what planet that would be legal or easy to get away with on, or what kind of monster would do such a thing. I was horrified at what I was seeing.

And then it all comes together when the father speeds away and glances in his rearview mirror at what he left behind: It was a dog all along, played by a little girl until the very end to illustrate the commitment we are making when we bring home a sweet, defenseless creature to live with us. When we take them in, we give them a home – shelter and protection. We make ours the shelter and protection they rely upon – and when we take it away from them, they’ve got nowhere else to go.

Too many people take the leap and make the commitment to own a pet before they really know if they can handle the responsibility, the costs, and sometimes, the messes they might make. Shelters are over-crowded with pet shop animals that were purchased on a whim and given up as soon as their novelty wore thin. Is this fair? Is this a positive wielding of our power as stewards of the earth and the animal kingdom? Or do we sometimes act like spoiled, lazy children who need to learn to think things through?

If you take one thing with you from this video, let it be be that anyone can bring home a dog, but not everyone is ready for all that goes with it. Do your research. Take home a rescue, if only for a trial adoption to make sure you’re up for the challenge. Failure to do so could mean another dog abandoned, or filling up more cells in more shelters while they await new forever homes. All one can ask of all humans is to be responsible, and to know yourself and what you’re willing to give to be a good pet parent.