PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Every Dog A Wanted Dog

I'm feeling extra-PSA this morning - a result of combined exposure to Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer), an article in the paper on pit bull rescue, and the weekly dog adoption segment in the local morning news.


Now that I've got that off my chest, let me just pontificate for 60 seconds.

Don't get a dog because you want to surprise or gift your partner or child.
Don't get a dog and then give it up because you're "moving & can't take it with you." The only valid excuse I can think of for this is if you're getting moved overseas by the army. I have seen & read this reason so many times it makes me want to slap people without even hearing the why. Dogs are not sofas, to be unloaded when you're moving because you don't want to bother! ARRRGH!
Don't get a dog and treat it like a baby, and then be surprised by behavior problems later.
Don't get a dog & think it's NOT like raising a child. Just because you can crate them, doesn't erase the parallels between the two. Boundaries, discipline & responsibility are essential.
Don't get a particular kind of dog because it "looks cute" or is somehow "in fashion". Research breeds. Take a hard look at your life & lifestyle, and determine from there the kind of dog that fits you.

I wanted a soft-coated wheaten like nobody's business, five years ago. They look like teddy bears, they are exuberant, and they are cute, cute, cute. With jumping-up issues, and a coat that requires loads of upkeep, and as a terrier, a mindset already prepared to challenge and resist you. Things I blithely ignored. Thank god I'm married to JWo, who had a lot more knowledge than I about the process & commitment to a dog. We already had Suzy, and I wanted "my" dog after we bought our house. Since he was going to have to do more care for the dogs, given his work schedule, we agreed it should be a breed we'd both be happy with, and that would benefit us both (me-companionship & fun, him-hunting) and wasn't going to require either of us taking up running, since we'd probably fall down after a block. It was a long discussion, and we concluded a black lab was the dog to get. I'd grown up with them, and of course, they're great hunting dogs.

I realize I've treated Polly like a baby at times, and she is more needy & less polished & trained than I'd now like her to be. Suzy & her 1/4 Chessie genes need to recognize that I am not on the same level as her in the pack, but that I am above her. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love our dogs, but I realize I need to give up a little of the "she's my baby" behavior in order to give Polly some of the room to just be a dog, a calm, submissive dog who knows her pack leaders are large & in charge. :) In watching the 800 episodes of the Dog Whisperer, it becomes crystal clear that in allowing a dog to have more control (esp on the leash), the dog becomes anxious, aggressive, out of control; exerting just that small amount of assertiveness quiets the dog & allows both owner & dog to enjoy each other. It's frustrating to see people with dogs get angry & upset & then think the dog should be put down, because somehow it's the "dog's fault" and the issues are incurable within the animal.

I could draw a parallel to how many people are parenting their children nowadays - excessive permissiveness, ignoring problem behavior, doing what's easier for the parent regardless of the result in the child, etc. - but then I'd have to scream again & write for another twenty minutes. So. The mantra for the day is, Be the Pack Leader. It's what your dog wants.

posted by PlazaJen, 8:32 AM