Anyone who knows me is aware of my passion for all things canine. I can’t even imagine a home without a dog or two or three.
Which brings me to the subject of this column.
I’m heartbroken whenever I hear about folks who abuse their animals, leave them outside in inclement weather or dump them by the roadside, where they are forced to fend for themselves. It happens a lot around these parts.
Owning a dog is no part-time commitment, folks. If you bring one into your home, it’s yours forever, at least for its lifetime. You don’t get rid of it because you’re getting married, having a baby or moving to an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. You don’t leave your loyal companion by the roadside or at an animal shelter because its grown old, become sick or doesn’t come when it’s called.
If you can’t keep a dog throughout its life, don’t get one. They’re not playthings for your children, companions to be tossed aside when they’re not as cute as they were as puppies. They don’t deserve to lose their homes, their very security, because they chewed your slippers or won’t stop barking at the mailman.
Much like children, dogs’ behavioral issues result from a lack of positive discipline and training. They’re eager to please anyone who treats them well. So if you don’t have the time or interest to provide either, having a dog — or a child for that matter — isn’t for you.
Anyone who gets a dog should do their homework. Some puppies become huge dogs that need lots of exercise and room to run, while others need “jobs” to keep them happy. Even little dogs like Chihuahuas need training and exercise.
Most important, any dog that becomes part of your pack should fit your lifestyle.
If you’re very active and always doing things, Labrador retrievers, Australian shepherds, collies and the like make great companions. Or if you’re more of a homebody, you’d be better off with a couch potato like a French bulldog, Pekingese or Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
All dogs, including mixed breeds, have unique personalities and need to feel their worth. They don’t find it cooped up in a crate all day. They need activity and enrichment, just like we do. When we can’t provide both, any credentialed canine day care can.
The bottom line, folks…having a dog is a huge responsibility. Each requires daily care, food, attention and medical care. If you own one and you’re unable or unwilling to provide all of that, then show the dog the compassion it deserves and find it a loving home with someone else.
Making a dog a stray or showing it neglect is inhuman and should never be the answer. It’s demoralizing for the animal. We’re their caretakers, and we all should be better than that.
P.S. All of the above also applies to cats.
Lois Kindle is a freelance writer and columnist for The Observer News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.