“Getting Rid of the Dog”: Adult Recall of a Childhood Experience

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 Edith Cowan University School of Psychology and Social Science, Joondalup, Western Australia
  • 2 Edith Cowan University School of Psychology and Social Science, Joondalup, Western Australia
  • 3 Edith Cowan University School of Psychology and Social Science, Joondalup, Western Australia

Abstract

Dog relinquishment is common practice across Australia and in many other countries. The psychological impact of dog relinquishment is an under-researched area. While a few studies have shown that the dog relinquishment experience can be emotionally distressing and cognitively challenging for adults, nothing is known about the impact of the experience on children. This paper reports on the recollections of 10 adults, who in qualitative interviews in Western Australia, described their childhood experience of dog relinquishment. The findings suggest that children experiencing dog relinquishment feel powerless and voiceless, having no influence or say in what happens to their dogs. The experience can be cognitively and emotionally distressing, especially for children who are close to their dogs. Getting rid of a child’s loved dog can damage the parent-child relationship. In addition, the thoughts and feelings associated with losing their dogs in this way can remain long after the event.

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