Do We Always Have To Judge?

“I saw an incredible story in the newspaper yesterday about a guy and his dog. It seemed like something you should blog about.”

My husband rarely suggests what I should write about at Something Wagging. What was so compelling about this story that made him certain I’d want to share my opinion here?

A New York man’s dog was diagnosed with a heart defect. He sold his car and took out a bank loan to put toward the $32,000 cost of corrective surgery (which includes flying specialist surgeons in from Japan).

As my husband started to share his thoughts about the story, I found myself without an opinion.

I understood some people would question spending so much money on care for a dog. And others would insist that no amount of money is too much to lengthen a friend’s life.

But my primary thought was, do we always have to judge?

Ally is a dog judge.

Judging And Caring Are Two Different Things

When I wrote earlier that I had no opinion about this story, I lied. I did have a couple of thoughts.

  • Wow, $30,000 for heart surgery? Why is it so much cheaper to perform surgery on a dog than a human?
  • What a terrible thing to go through. I can’t imagine how worried that man must feel for his dog.

No matter how much I think about it, I can’t bring myself to judge his actions in any way.

A stranger who loves his dog faced a difficult decision. He made it. And hopefully all will go well in the surgery.

But the more publicity the story gets, the more likely it will attract the judgments of others. And I think I know why.

Because people who mean well think judging and caring are the same thing.

They’re wrong.

And confusing the two is a bad idea.

Judging Gets In The Way Of Caring

One of two things can happen when we judge someone:

  • we judge them to be wrong and our judgement justifies why we don’t have to help them, or
  • we judge them to be right and think that our judgment in their favor replaces our need to help them.

Either way, judging gets in the way of caring. At its best, judging is unnecessary. Unless, of course, you’re a judge.

 Act Without Judging

When I talk like this, my Catholic husband gets worried.

If we don’t judge, are we allowing evil things to happen? Isn’t it right to judge puppy mill owners? Animal abusers? People who feed their dogs cheap kibble and buy them treats made in China?

See how judging can devolve from righteous anger about serious moral issues into petty squabbles that tear us apart without addressing the underlying issues about how to best care for our animals?

How about if we decreased the amount of time we spend judging and used that time to choose our actions in response to things we recognize as problems in the world?

What do you think effects more change in the world? Ranting about the latest animal abuser on Facebook? Or calling your elected officials to support legislation for harsher penalties for people who harm animals?

And if you find yourself wondering if people should have a dog if they can’t afford to feed him premium food, maybe it’s time to donate some healthy pet food and treats to your local food pantry.

We don’t have to judge everything. Sometimes we can just act.

Honey the golden retriever puppy plays with a friend.

Random cute puppy picture to reward you for reading.

Best Wishes For A Man And His Dog

So I guess my husband was right. I did need to write about a man willing to give anything to save his dog. But perhaps not in the way he expected.

If you want to read the story of Dylan Raskin and his efforts to save the life of his dog Esme, check out the original story here. And to learn about the heartwarming response strangers had to his plight, read the follow-up here.

The story goes on whether I judge it or not. And I wish Esme all the best success in coming through his surgery.

Your Turn: Why do you think humans feel the need to judge? And is it important for us to do so?


photo credit: aussiegall via photopin cc

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. It’s a question that’s long puzzled me. But some don’t think that others should have an opinion at all unless it’s in agreement with them.

  2. People always have, and always will judge others. It’s just a sad fact of life. Making an instant judgement based on the appearance of a person, or even a dog, can almost always be wrong.

  3. I can see myself doing exactly what Mr. Raskin is doing. My husband, I fear, would probably not – but luckily I could foot the bill myself! My hope is that this dog makes it through the physical trauma of open-heart surgery and lives many long and happy years thereafter.

  4. Mike is right– certain things do have to be judged right or wrong. Puppy mills and people spending $30,000 on heart surgery for the dog are at opposite extremes, which is why both are prone to judgement– extremes bring on our judgey pants. But puppy mills hurt dogs. Nothing good comes out of a puppy mill, only sick dogs and exploited dog owners who often don’t know what they’ve done or why their $800 dog store dog is sick all the time.

    The debate on a $30,000 surgery to save the life of a dog comes from people who wonder if the money could have been “better spent.” But that doesn’t mean it’s now been badly spent. Ultimately, everyone has the right to spend his/her money as (s)he sees fit, as long as no one gets hurt and nothing illegal happens. (Spending $30,000 on cocaine for a wild party will elicit the legal sort of judgement mentioned.) As for the dude in this article– as always, I back up Pamela in everything she says and will refrain from judging. :)

  5. Interesting question and having been guilty of some of the judging you mention in your article am taking a pause to look at my actions. I think you are right – it replaces acting – certainly much easier and absolves you of any need to take action. This will leave me thinking…

  6. I try hard to always put myself in someone’s shoes before judging. We all come from different backgrounds and experiences, and travel our own paths through life. As long as we keep moving in the right direction, we keep evolving. Unfortunately, it’s easier to judge than give someone the benefit of the doubt or seek to understand. Great post!

  7. It’s God’s job to judge – not mine. Judging others says more about us than it does about the person we are judging. Does that mean I never put on my judge-y pants? Sadly, no. But I do have to stop myself when I find myself going down that path. If someone wants to spend a lot of money to help their dog, what has that to do with me? I don’t imagine I would go to those extremes, but that doesn’t make me better or worse than the person that spends a lot or even a little.

  8. I think it’s human nature to be in everyone’s business, and by doing that, judging/opinions get involved. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but they don’t always have to voice it. Opinions are often ending up as judging. Everyone one is different and will do different things. No everyone will agree, but that doesn’t mean things are right or wrong. If we all had the best of the best and anything we wanted, what kind of world would it be?

  9. I can only speak for myself – When Leo was gravely ill, I never thought about the cost. I just wanted him well.

  10. Thank you for the reminder. It does feel good to have compassion rather than condemnation, and taking action for compassion is even better!

    Oh, and love your random cute picture :->

  11. Blueberry’s Human said exactly what I was thinking, almost verbatim. I think it’s wonderful that the man is able to find the means with which to get the surgery for his dog; and I sincerely hope that surgery is successful!!

  12. After such an insightful post I feel I should offer something insightful back… *tumbleweed*… I think you are right though. We are brought up to judge people, and spend our entire lives doing it. I am going to try to judge less and care more!

  13. Mike Webster says:

    From the Husband:
    I judge this to be an excellent post.

  14. I can be very very judgmental. Sometimes I can even keep my mouth shut about it, and just think the thoughts quietly!

    $32,000 for a dog’s surgery? If I had it, I’d spend it. But that’s more than what I’ve got left on my mortgage. And using surgeons from other countries? That’s well beyond my means (social and professional connections, etc.)

    Here’s the kicker: I’d spend it if it seemed like a “guarantee”. Not $32k for a couple of months, but if it ensured (provided the surgery went well) a further long and fulfilling life. It’s like how I”m not sure I could put a dog through cancer treatments…that’s a lot of potential pain and illness they will in no way understand, with the doubt of whether the treatment will be successful.

  15. I wish him the best of luck with his dog – it’s obvious that he is willing to go to great lengths to save his canine friend and who are we to judge? You’re absolutely right about that. And when it comes to really making change happen in the animal world I often thing about a local rescue that does things a bit differently. They’re called C.H.A.I.N.E.D. Inc and they don’t just rescue dogs and place them into homes (although they do when an owner surrenders one) they help owners out by providing food and shelter for their dogs. They build fences and dog houses and other practical measures that help improve the life of a dog and at the same time educating the owner about proper care and helping them out when they need it. They don’t judge the people they help – they offer help and simply provide it if the owners agree. In a way I think big changes can start on a small scale – the more that rescue educates owners about proper dog ownership the more likely they are to pass on that information on. We don’t live in a world where everyone has unlimited resources – yet everyone has the potential to reach out and make a difference in such a simple way.


  1. […] Do We Always Have to Judge?. This article from Pam at Something Wagging is great example of how judging is not the same as caring. She tells the story about a dog with a heart defect and how his owner has chosen to go ahead with the $32,000 corrective surgery. […]