The foster dog lady came to visit me today, to view my dungeons and generally see if I was a fit person to have the care of a needy dog. Anyway she left a heap of interesting information about dog fostering and in it I read that:
“How lovely it is to watch an abused or troubled dog blossom through loving care and attention into the dog we always knew it could be!”
Which is a beautiful sentiment. But brings me to my point:
Is there an essential difference here between dogs and people, in this context?
I mean, the assumption here is that in most cases – perhaps not quite all – if you lavish care and love and targeted training on an emotionally damaged dog, it will become a lovable pet. Such a dog might have grown up in circumstances where it was abused, neglected, hit, starved or taught to be aggressive. But usually, it can be re-trained.
Now humans – can WE be re-trained? Supposing we grow up to become snarling, cringing, emotionally stunted and troubled adults, will enough love, care and training turn us into reasonably functional members of the human race? Or are some of us born ‘pit bulls’ (not to insult pit bulls, many of whom are delightful). Is it sometimes too late, in any case?
And if we CAN be re-trained, why aren’t we? Why aren’t prisons filled with experts in people-training, who can provide all the elements necessary to turn out well-behaved and loving humans? Are we just too complex?
Sometimes, even the foster dog people give up. Some dogs are too dangerous to be re-trained and re-homed, apparently. those dogs, as they euphemistically put it, are ‘given their wings’. I hate to say it, but I wonder if it would be kinder to give some humans their wings too, recognising that some people, for whatever reason, can never be safely re-homed.