Everybody reading these words loves dogs. Otherwise, there’s little reason for you to have stumbled on my blog. If you’ll allow me the hubris, may I address the subject of”Loving Dogs” for a few paragraphs? Bear with me, it might not be so bad after all…
As most of you know, taking on the responsibility of making a dog part of your family, is a HUGE, even life-style altering event. Most of us here know and accept that with some resignation. The joys of working with, training, or just enjoying the company of a canine far outweigh the hard work, frustrations, and sacrifices we make for the dog. Many of us go even further, reading, studying, and observing our dogs carefully and making their daily care a central part of our family’s daily life. We read the fine print on dog food bags. We spend hard-earned money on training, silly outfits, and dog toys and daycare and grooming, oh my! We build websites and blogs about our dogs. We chat on Facebook incessantly about our dogs with other dog lovers. Some of us write poetry, create art, or write about our dogs. Hopefully we get familiar with our dogs medical needs and practices. We take walks 2,3, or even more times each day. We clean up their messes, be it a bout of diarrhea, or the remains of what formerly was a roll of toilet paper. The list of things we do for our dogs goes on and on. We refer to these things as “Loving my Dog”. And those things do prove that we LOVE our dogs. But if we made a daily list of everything we do each day specifically because of, or for, our dog, what would be on your list? Or better still, what WOULD’NT be on that list? This is important…
Each year, the United States Humane Society estimates that 6 to 8 MILLION Dogs are cared for at Humane society branches. Nearly one half of those dogs are euthanized. That’s politically correct speech for “They are put to Death, because nobody wanted them, or someone couldn’t care for them properly.”
This post is NOT about spaying or neutering to avoid too many puppies being born. Not at all. The direction I’m headed in is called, “Honest-Self evaluation/Personal Responsibilty of myself as a Dog-Owner”.
We are all completely powerless to the charms of cute puppies. You see a puppy, you want the puppy. You hold or pet the puppy, you want it even more. Play with the puppy, let it lick your face, you will decide that you NEED the puppy. That’s what most people would describe as “Loving Dogs.” We need to redefine that phrase. Immediately. Too many dogs suffer because of people who, “Love Dogs”, and hastily decide to take one into their lives.
The first week or two is full of activity, great intentions, and forgiveness of puppy’s little indiscretions on the floor. The next week, work and other obligations fill in time that used to belong to walks or ball games with puppy. The “indiscretions” become “Awww he peed on the floor again!! Rotten little…”
The second or third month, the puppy has started to rebel against the hours he’s left alone in the house while his humans lives go on. Walks have become a “Once a week”, event lasting about 15 minutes. The puppy is growing bigger everyday, and getting a bit more rambunctious. He’s even nipped you a couple of times. Choice words have been muttered about the expense of the Vet visits, (Does the dog really NEED shots?!!!??) his good dog food, (Let him eat the cheap stuff! It’ll do! He eats better than we do!) and the idea of any formal training has now been abandoned completely. ($50.00 an hour?!!) At about this time, the family may be ready to go on a vacation or somewhere else, and the cost of boarding the dog causes the biggest fight yet. It’s usually about this time that the 6-8 month old puppy has stopped being a pet, and becomes a big hassle. Casual inquiries go out, searching for a new home for the innocent soul that wants only to play with his family, and feel secure. After a few weeks of failed searches, the puppy ends up at a shelter, or worse. Nobody has time for him, and the expense was never thought over. “We LOVE the dog, but he just doesn’t fit into our lives. It’s just a dog. He’ll be easy to place in another home!” are usually the last words that the dog hears from his original family.
That’s NOT “Love for a Dog”. That’s loving the idea of HAVING a dog…A dog that requires no time, attention, expense, or anything outside of an occasional pat on the head. That is not a family member…it is Property. Most of these dogs, whether or not they are purebred, don’t ever again see a proper home, or the attention of a proper pack. The dog may very well have taken on certain undesirable traits from his lack of socializing and training. Strike 2. He may be a large, imposing breed. Strike 3.
“Personal Responsibility” is a rarely practiced discipline that has been replaced by the society we live in now. Everything is somebody else’s fault. If something goes wrong, somebody else will take care of it for me (Government, family, anybody!)
Before you take that gorgeous puppy, examine your lifestyle. Do I have time? Do I have the interest in developing my dog into more than an ornament? Am I willing to fit my life around my dog rather than abandon him when he’s inconvenient? If he needs help, medically or behaviorally, am I willing and able to spend the time and money on him?
Thats how we show love to our dog.
This is meant to be a very positive plea for the sake of all dogs. If you honestly find that you don’t have the situation to take a dog into your family, but you STILL LOVE Dogs, try this: Visit your local shelter or breed rescue. They will beg you to play with the dogs, walk the dogs, socialize with the dogs, and if you have any training to offer, the dogs are ready and willing! Have fun, they will!
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