Charlotte Peltz Living with Your Dog "So. You Want a Dog. Why?" brought to you by Joy Beckner Artist/ Bronze Sculptor

Living with Your Dog

So. You Want a Dog. Why?

by Charlotte Peltz

When you have answered that question, how about taking on a few more? What can you offer a dog? Do you have time? Space? Money?

Dogs have become very disposable items, it seems. Acquisition of a dog is all too often an emotional decision based on seeing some pups being sold on the street, at a pet store, or even at the shelter. Then, not long afterwards, reality sets in. Dogs chew, dig, bark, jump, and even bite. They are most non-discriminating where they defecate and urinate unless they are properly trained.

Non-purebreds pups have ways of surprising people with how they turn out (not so cute, much bigger than hoped for, serious health problems, etc.) and purebreds, unless purchased from responsible breeders, can and definitely do all too often suffer serious health problems.

Free dogs are never free. They require veterinary care ranging from spaying and neutering to vaccinations, medical care for diseases, flea allergies, accidents, infections from one of many causes, etc. They also have to eat! If you cannot afford the best food available, or the medical costs, you have no business owning a dog.

Then there are those who "just want a dog for the yard" meaning some kind of guard dog. Dogs are social creatures and to put them out in the yard with little or no contact is cruel. San Miguel has what must be a rather unique dog owner -- the one who simply visits their San Miguel "home" a few times a year, but insists on having a dog! House sitters come and go and the dog has no "pack" to call its own. Such dogs very often cause lots of problems because of their lonely lives. Such dogs often suffer sad fates at the hands of non-caring staff. Doors are left open and they escape. Sickness or injury is not noticed until too late. Food is often left out for free feeding resulting in serious weight gain -- or the opposite!

A dog is not a sometime thing. Anyone who owns a dog has the responsibility to learn what that dog's needs are, whether it was specially bred for some activity (herding, hunting, killing vermin, etc.) or is a mixed breed who reveals over time what tendencies it has. The dog deserves training so that it can be socially integrated in the family's activities. And, of course, there are the needs for medical care, proper nutrition, grooming and exercise.

The most likely dog to find its way to the animal shelter, a "nice home in the country," or "free to a good home," is one purchased or acquired on a whim and then left to its own ways once the novelty has worn off. The Disposable Dog! And for those whose owners feel too guilty to do that, the dogs often live out their dreary days relegated to some version of isolation. Be fair. Be just. Be humane. Before acquiring a dog be sure that you think of more than yourself!

"One can measure the size and moral progress of a nation to how she treats her animals." Mahatma Gandhi.

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