New Year’s Resolutions for Dog Lovers! Guest Post from Joy Lee from Rover Oaks Pet Resort!
Posted Dec 30 2010 9:30am
With a new year rapidly approaching, it is not too early to think about resolutions for 2011. For dog lovers, there are things we can do within our own households and to help dogs everywhere - not only in the coming year, but throughout our lives. Adopting just one or two of these suggestions can help you to have a more peaceful household and can help the problem of pet overpopulation and neglect in your community.
Within our own families:
Take Fido for a walk every day - not only will the exercise help him stay fit, but canine physical activity helps to keep dogs calmer and better behaved - and the walk will help your fitness, too!
Provide good quality food and clean water to help maintain Fido's overall health and well-being
Keep Fido up-to-date on vaccinations and heartworm and flea preventives to keep him healthy and safe, and go for veterinary care if any health problems arise.
Always make sure your dog has current identification, including collar and tags and a microchip. So many dogs end up in shelters because they get out of yards and no one is able to locate their owners, and it is so easy to remedy with identification.
Spay and neuter your pets - for intact male dogs in particular, the instinct to roam in search of a lady is very strong, and a large number of stray dogs are un-neutered boys. Spaying and neutering also helps with the problem of pet overpopulation throughout the country, and provides health benefits for your own pets.
Don't keep your dog confined for long periods, or keep him outside alone. Dogs are pack animals, and do best when they are part of the family and can spend time with their people and other pets.
Don't give up on your dog if he has behavior problems - make the decision to work with him, with the help of trained professionals if necessary, to resolve problem behaviors.
Before you get a dog, ask yourself if you are prepared for a commitment that can last ten to twenty years. Anyone who has ever seen the heartbreak and bewilderment of dogs surrendered to shelters after being part of a loving home will always ask themselves "how could anyone do that?"
Never bring home a dog "for the kids" - even the best-intentioned children will lose interest in the daily chores of pet care, or become involved with other activities as they grow. The decision to bring home a dog should be one that the whole family - especially parents - embraces.
Spend time with your dogs every day. They will do better mentally and emotionally, and you will find happiness in the unconditional love that they give in return.
Within your community:
Help put an end to puppy mills. Never purchase a pet from a pet store, backyard breeder, or over the internet, as the majority of these dogs are born and bred in atrocious conditions (and their parents suffer even more, as they are forced to breed over and over again, spending their entire lives in cramped and filthy cages, with limited food, water, veterinary care and no human companionship). These pets tend to suffer from any number of health problems in addition to being subjected to unbelievable cruelty and neglect.
When you do decide to bring home a new pet, adopt from a shelter or rescue group. Approximately 25% of shelter pets are purebred, and many offer "pet match" programs to help you find the right dog for you. Breed rescue groups also offer wonderful pets for adoption. When you adopt a rescue dog, they somehow know that you have offered them a chance at a better life, and offer unbelievable love and loyalty in return. Help save a life - with three to four million adoptable pets euthanized at shelters every year, saving just one can ultimately make a big difference - by adopting a shelter dog.
Support your local shelters. Give your time - most shelters welcome volunteers to help clean, walk, socialize, foster or help with pet adoptions. Donate food, toys, or money - with the economic downturn, many non-profits have suffered financially as well, and every little bit helps. Organize donation drives or fund-raising projects in your communities.
Pick up a stray and take him to a local shelter. Carry a spare leash and treats in your care to help save one life from ending tragically along a busy road.
Report any suspected abuse or dog fighting to local authorities. In many areas, chaining dogs outside is illegal, as is neglect to the point of starvation. Ending dog fighting has become a national endeavor. The more we all speak up, the more attention these problems will receive.
If every one of us helps just a little bit, in the grand scheme of things it will add up to making a big difference! From my pack to yours, we wish you all a "Yappy New Year."
Joy Lee is co-owner and general manager of Rover Oaks Pet Resort in Katy, Texas. She is also passionate about animal rescue, and has authored a book, "Rover's Rescues...True Stories of Shelter Dogs and Second Chances", for which a portion of each book sale will be donated to Citizens for Animal Protection in Houston. Visit her website, http://www.joyleebooks.com/ , for more information.