(Part One in a Series)
This is the first of many such articles I do hope! So, I want us to become friends. My name is “DOVE”. Yep, just like the soap, ice cream bar, candy, and of course the bird. As I ramble along in writing these columns, I would feel honored if you would consider this YOUR column. I am writing to help you in any way I can, and since we have not met yet, I of course need to hear from you with your questions, insights, and opinions. You can email thedogplace.org. So don’t be shy, talk to me so that we can all be more comfortable, with providing the best environment for our four legged loved ones, and the little two legged ones too.
Some where along the way, our society has lost sight of why we have pets. We used to have the “house” dog or cat, for our companionship. But sadly in today’s world there are those individuals that purchase a certain type of dog because it is fashionable, or matches the furniture. I know some of you just won’t believe that, but I have worked in shelters, and have been told personally by the owner of the dog, that the “reason” they brought their dog into the shelter was because they didn’t match the living room any more. That is one of the many, not so good reasons that our society is over loaded with dogs that have to be put to sleep. Such a nice way of saying “murdered”.
So, as we begin our relationship, lets look at why people should get, keep, and care for one of our most loyal companions, The Dog.
I am going to start with the education of the adults here. Why? Because you can’t teach your children, what you yourself don’t know or understand. And it is my wish, that we as adults create for our society, a more enlightened approach to the acquisition and maintenance of our friend, the dog.
You know as well as I do that in today’s world we are a throw away, instant gratification, society. I swear even companies manufacture their products, so that in a year or two, they no longer function properly, just so they can make money, and we have an excuse to buy the latest style. But you know what? Buying a dog should not be like that. What are you getting when you buy a dog?
Well, you are getting a friend for life. That’s right. For life. The only shame of it is, that the dog’s life isn’t as long as ours. But the memory will linger on of a wonderful relationship, if you give thought to what you are willing to give, what space you have to provide for an adequate environment for the dog, how much time you are willing to spend with the dog, and what your expectations are about the animal.
For example, you wouldn’t want to get a high energy dog if you live in a one bedroom apartment, and will never have the time to run, and play in an open area with him. And if you are buying a dog, for you’re one year old child,….well, don’t.
I am going to create a list of things that you need to consider before you even venture out to look at dogs. And, by the way you answer the questions, you will know; 1) if you should even buy a dog or not, 2) what type (breed) of dog to buy, 3) where to go and buy your new family member, and 4) what you can expect from that breed.
So if you are ready, I am. Let’s get to it then.
#1. Why do you want to buy a dog? Are you just married and you think that it is cute to have a “baby” in the house? This may not be such a good idea. It is perfectly normal for the “nesting” urge to take over right after a new relationship (being married) is formed. But, sooner or later, you are going to have that human baby, and then what will you want to do with the dog. And, you have to consider; is the dog of a breed that will easily accept the new family member, the baby. Most young couples think that having a dog will be “less” responsibility than having a baby. WRONG! Think of this. Your child grows to become more self sufficient, and sooner or later, you will be out of the diaper stage. But with your new family member, the dog, you will forever have to take them out to use the bathroom, you will forever have to consider the feeding schedule before you make plans to go out, and there is never a time when you will not have to have, either a critter sitter, or a kennel to take care of your dog, or you will have to consider how to travel with him, and that is not always easy. Just ask me, I know. You think that with a child you are making a life time commitment, and you’re not ready to do that yet, so why not get a dog? WRONG. Most breeds of dogs, if well maintained health wise, can live to be in their teens. By that time, the human child can cook for themselves, take care of themselves if called on to do so, but not the dog. Whether five, ten, or twenty years of age, you still have the responsibility of having the “baby” to care for.
When you consider buying a dog, you are taking on the responsibility of a sweet, loving, giving soul, that will give you more hours of enjoyment than you can imagine. But it is loaded with responsibility from the start, right on through to the end of that family member’s life. Just as with the human baby, there will be puppy shots for immunization, potty training, (do you work all day?), and obedience training. No one wants to come home to a house that is in shambles every day. And, then, not least of all, there is the expense of having the dog. Are you getting a breed that is high maintenance? Then you will have to consider the cost of groomers. That is expensive, and depending on the breed, to ignore professional grooming, can, and does lead to health problems. What about medical care? Statistically speaking, it is more expensive to have medical care for the pet than for the child. Veterinarian care is one the most expensive health care systems in America. Are you financially able to bear the cost of care should your family member, the dog, get sick? So, sit down and think about the responsibilities of having the dog before you rush out to bring the loving pet home to become a family member of your household.
#2. The next consideration you must ponder is what type of dog do you want? Well, let’s look at it this way, what is your life style? Are you a couch potato? Or are you high octane? Are you out every weekend climbing mountains, or running miles a day? What part do you want your dog to play in your activities? Do you want a companion to go with you and share in your fun? Or do you want a friend to cuddle with you on the couch? Are you scared to be alone so all you really want is a security system? It would be cheaper for you and kinder to the dog if you get the electronic type of security. You have to remember that you are buying a living, breathing, feeling, and giving soul. Not a static display for what ever reason. Do you want the dog to be a toy for your child? Wrong again. If you want to have a dog to grow with the child, then you will have to finish the questions here to see what you are getting yourself and the dog into first. And, what type of behavior do you expect from the dog? So, sit down and consider just what you want the dog “for”. Toy, security system, or “FRIEND & FAMILY MEMBER”.
#3. Where do you go to get the dog, after you have decided that you are ready, willing and able to take on the responsibilities of the dog? NOT A PET SHOP! Pet shops are the main member of society that keep the horrible “Puppy Mills” in business. The breeding parents are kept in filthy conditions sometimes spending years in one small cage never being taken out even for health care reasons. They have been found in cages with open bleeding and oozing soars from lack of proper nutrition, living conditions and or grooming. They are bred over and over again until they die. There is no thought given to the welfare of the animal, only how many puppies can they produce, thus making more money for the owner of the puppy mill. Anyone that cares at all about animals and specifically dogs is working to put an end to the puppy mills. One of the best ways is to STOP buying puppies from pet stores. Where then can you buy a dog? Well, my first option is the humane society. If it is the pure bred dog you are after, they have those too. Just tell them what you want and if they don’t have them they will be able to lead you to a reliable breeder. If you decide to go to a breeder then here are some things to do.
Check references. Check to see if there have been complaints filed with the humane society. Go to the facilities of the breeder and check it out. Look for yourself to see if it is a clean, safe, humane, loving environment that has brought your puppy into the world. If not, then DON’T be talked into buying your dog there, and run, don’t walk, to the nearest humane society and give a report on what you saw. If it is a specific breed you want, check in your local newspaper for the, “Rescue Society” of that particular breed. Some wonderful animals have been given to these societies due to the illness or death of the original owner, or the dog was rescued from death, by the society.
When you get your dog from most humane societies, they will have had their shots, and they will have been spayed or neutered. We will cover the whys and wherefores of that in our next column. If you get your dog from a shelter, you will have the good feeling of having saved a dog from being “murdered”.
If you feel that all of the above is just to much trouble for you to go through just to own a dog, then believe me, you and your family are not ready to take on any of the other responsibilities, of having the dog as your family member. It would be unfair to you, and most of all, totally unjust to the dog.
I think that we have covered what you have to think about before you buy a dog. You are probably asking, where in the world you can find all of the answers to these questions. There are books on dogs. All breeds of dogs. Talk to your humane society and tell them what you want. Not just the breed, tell them what you are willing to give to the dog and what your requirements are. They will be happy to tell you the breed that would be best for you…and ultimately the dog.
Thought to remember;
“When God gave us dominion over the animals of this earth, he expected us to care for them with love and responsibility.”
Watch for subsequent posts