Spring has come upon us and there seems always to be a urge to either plant a wonderful garden or get a puppy or kitten. I want to smother the “urge” to get a pet, into a thought, tempered with real life consideration.
Now, what do I mean by that?
No one loves kittens or puppies more than I do
Having raised 6 children, our house has been a haven for lost, abandoned and purchased animals.
I can honestly say for the last 10 years we have given up any idea of a vacation due to the special needs of two of our pets.
Now, what has that to do with the smothering of the “urge” to get a pet?
It boils down to commitment.
Are you and your family ready to assume the responsibility of raising and caring for the pet?
Let's just digress for a moment and look at what happens to many of the pets given as gifts to children or bought by adults on the spur of the moment.
According to studies made by the National Council on Pet Population and other groups 56.5 percent of all dogs that are in shelters are euthanized each year.
At least 25 percent of the dogs in shelters or rescue shelters are purebreds.
Many dogs come to shelters unwanted and die unwanted.
Mainly because their owners did not do enough research when getting a dog in the first place.
Purchasing a dog because it is “cute” is not a good enough reason to get it.
Going to a shelter and picking the saddest most timid dog with the thinking you will give it a happy home, is also a very bad reason. Nine chances out of ten, you will soon take it back to the shelter.
Getting a puppy seems like a simple thing to do. You find a dog you like and take it home and live happily ever after.
Rarely does that happen.
In days gone by that may have been the case, as Mom stayed home to raise the family, people had homes with yards and children weren’t distracted by TV, video games or computers.
In those days the dog was a playmate not a chore to take care of.
Life was slower, people stayed home more and pets were considered part of the entertainment.
Today both parents generally work, the kids are involved in sports or after school activities and the poor dog is lucky it gets out for a quick walk.
The result is a bored dog that gets into all kinds of wonderful mischief, the parents get upset and the kids are mad cause the dog chewed up their prize sneakers.
After this happens a time or two or three, guess what comes next?
Obedience school and some family one on one time?
A sad trip to the animal shelter and good-bye dog.
Could this have been prevented?
Simply by knowing what you are getting into before you get into it.
Do you buy a car or a major household appliance without giving it a great deal of thought?
Of course not.
You shop around, talk to your friends, read up on what it is you are looking for and then consider the purchase.
Why should getting a dog be any different?
Cute doesn’t cut it. Cute can grow up into a big ugly dog with a nasty personality; and all you can do is shake your head and not understand what happened.
A little intelligent thinking is necessary and with intelligent thinking will come a dog/owner relationship that should work out.
It is hard for adult humans to realize that dogs are dogs and need to be trained and cared for.
They are not children, that as they grow come equipped with a brain that hopefully has them learning right from wrong.
You would not expect a toddler to behave if left alone for 8 to 9 hours a day.
Why do many people expect a dog to be happy just sitting and looking out the window for hours at a time?
So what is a person to do to make the proper choices in order to get a dog that is suited to their lifestyle and one that will be happy forever after?
For your sake and for the sake of the dog you are thinking of getting, let us cover the ground rules one more time.
A committed owner will research all the dog breeds to find one that is compatible to his/her lifestyle or to that of the family.
A committed owner realizes that dogs have to have leaders, they have to be trained and they have to be allowed to experience all types of human social events in order to fit comfortably into the family unit.
A dog does not belong tied up in the back yard.
A committed owner will realize that a dog has to have a job.
Dogs, since the beginning were created for work. They hunted, herded and guarded, they did what they were trained to do.
Today, dogs for the most part, do not have to do any of these things and that is part of the problem. The other side of the problem is owners do not want to take the time needed to train their dogs to do anything.
Dogs need to be trained to look for their toys, find the children, round up the cat (nicely) or do tricks to earn their treats.
Dogs need obedience training, some dogs need agility training, if for no other reason than to build self confidence and exercise.
Dogs need mental and physical stimulation along with quality time with the family.
The whole problem and the correct solution is a dog needs a good deal of your quality time.
Do you or any responsible person in your family have time to spare?
Do not depend on your children to fulfill this obligation.
Children mean well, but have short term memories and long term obligations in other directions.
The prospect of being a dog owner is a serious business.
If we are going to help keep the animal shelter’s population down and end the needless killing of dogs, it has to start at the home level and people have to develop a serious commitment in order for it to work.
I am not trying to discourage anyone from getting a dog, what I am trying to do is create an awareness of the seriousness and the responsibility it entails.
Plants cannot grow without sunshine and water, children need direction in order to function in this world and pets need time, love and care.
Can you give what is needed, that is the question.