Resource Box - © Danielle Hollister (2004) Danielle Hollister is the Quotations Editor at BellaOnline and Publisher of BellaOnline Quotations Zine. http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art8364.asp
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Before You Buy that Puppy
by David the Dogman
"How much is that doggy in the window, the one with the waggly tail...?" Familiar words to an old tune suggests that many people at one time or another consider having a dog as a pet. They might have fond memories of the old Boxer or Cairn terrier that they grew up with. Maybe it was a good-natured mutt or even a neighbour's well-behaved German Shepherd. Some folks imagine owning a beautiful and heroic dog such as "Lassie" of book and screen fame.
Often, the reality is that many pups purchased on impulse wind up in shelters or banned to a chain in the garden because they didn't measure up to the dream. This is written to help you consider the answers to the questions you should ask before buying that cute little puppy.
Are you ready for a life long commitment to responsible dog ownership? Let's think through and visualize what dog ownership is really like. It is fun to imagine walking an obedient dog on a beautiful day, but remember, the same dog will need walking when its hot, cold, raining or icy out. The "Obedient" part will take time and effort. In deciding whether a dog will fit into your lifestyle, the biggest consideration in the long run will be "Do you have the TIME it takes to own a dog?
Puppies and adult dogs have daily needs. The basics are shelter, food and water, grooming, health care, training, exercise and social interaction. The earlier in life you start teaching a pup what is expected of it the better, but the more it has to learn. With an older dog, there may be some bad habits they'll have to 'unlearn'. Early social experiences set the tone for a dog's development into a dependable companion or a destructive nuisance.
Socialization Puppy Training (9-18 weeks.) will certainly mold the pup during its most impressionable period and helps provide an environment for learning positive associations with new people, places, experiences and other dogs. Patterns are set for life in these formative weeks. However it is essential that young dogs from 4 months to one year attend training classes.
Besides training, there are other expenses incurred with dog ownership. After the initial purchase, the biggest portion will go toward veterinary and feeding bills. A high quality food costs more 'per bag' but is very cost effective in terms of better health and food efficiency (you feed less). Veterinary start-up costs, including immunizations and worming, Microchips are also required by law for identification is not cheap. Neutering and spaying usually takes place around 6 months. Semi-annual vet visits, heartworm testing and preventative medications, unexpected illnesses or accidents all add up! Then there is the control of internal and external parasites to consider (worms, fleas, ticks, mosquitoes and mites etc.)
Grooming requires the proper tools to care for coat, ears, teeth, and nails. (For some breeds, there is the additional expense of a professional groomer 8-9 times a year.) Microchips are also required by law for identification.
Basic supplies include sturdy food and water bowls, leash and collar, bedding, cage, chew toys, food treats, indoor gates, outdoor fencing, kennels and housing.
Although lovable, puppies and dogs will create additional cleaning work around the home. (Accidents: diarrhea, urine, vomit), shedding hair, muddy paws, drool, tracked on floors and carpeting, nose prints on windows etc.) Responsible dog ownership dictates cleaning up dog garden waste, keeping dogs reasonably quiet and confined to their own property. Dogs are known for destructive chewing and digging holes. These problems can only be successfully dealt with through supervision and confinement and early puppy training (starting at two months.)
So, why on earth would anyone want a dog with all the work, time and expense of owning one? For many reasons, but the biggest one for most people is that they enjoy the loyalty and companionship of a dog. Dogs like to play. Folks like the way they interact in the family, the way that the dog looks and the home security a properly trained dog can add. If you are willing to make a time commitment for the next 10 years (the average life span of a dog); knowing the responsibility and expense of owning a dog and fully aware of the likely negative elements involved, then, the next step would be to decide what kind of dog best fits into your lifestyle.
Do not make the drastic mistake of choosing a breed solely on its 'looks'. Although this is one consideration, the temperament, size, activity level and coat care are even more important considerations. Unfortunately a pup is sometimes chosen impulsively because it looked like a 'cute little teddy bear' and then the teddy grows up to me more like a 'grizzly' because the breed is a type bred for high levels of aggression. Or a pup may prove to have an energy level that requires more exercise and attention than can be provided.
Research the breeds that appeal to you. Libraries carry breed books and local veterinarians may be able to put you in touch with reputable breeders. Local dog shows allow you to view a variety of purebred dogs. Find out about the positive and the negative traits of each breed you are considering. Ask questions: How big do they get? How much grooming is required? How aggressive are they? How active? How much exercise is required? Are they good with children? Are allergies a consideration? Don't discount mixed breeds.
Good Luck with your new pet and come to training classes.
Commitment, Firmness, but kindness.
Do you have any problems with your pet? Want to find out more about your dog's health or canine health generally? Then why not send your problem to DAVID THE DOGMAN.
David is a Canine Behaviourist who works and lives in Marbella, Spain. Tel/Fax (00345) 2883388. His web site is located at: www.dogman.net
David has his own radio and TV shows, and writes for many newspapers and magazines. David has been working with dogs for many years and started his career in Israel, working on the Border Police. He has been involved in all forms of training, including air sea rescue, air scent work, and has trained dogs for finding drugs. David has devoted the past 10 years to studying behaviour and the very passive approach. He does not use choke chains, check chains, or any form of aggression.
David The Dogman is available for private consultations in your home, for further details telephone; Tel; (95) 2883388
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Animal Shelters and Rescue
By: David the Dogman
The two studies, conducted by Colorado State veterinary epidemiologist Dr. M.D. Salman and sponsored by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, reveal that moving and other lifestyle issues were the main reasons given by pet owners when surrendering their animals to shelters. But the majority of those pets--64 percent--are euthanized instead of adopted into new homes.
The studies also found that the majority of pet owners who surrender their animals to shelters are under 30 years of age and that more dogs are taken to shelters than cats and all other animals combined.
"Euthanasia of domestic pets in the United States is an epidemic," Salman said. "These studies give us the first glimpse of why so many pets are entering shelters and what happens once they are surrendered by their owners."
About 1,000 shelters in the United States responding as part of Shelter Statistics Survey accepted an estimated 4 million pets each year in 1994, 1995 and 1996. Of those sent to the reporting shelters that participated in the study, about 64 percent--or 8.2 million pets--were euthanized.
The survey also revealed that, on average, 42.5 percent of pets that entered animal shelters were submitted by animal control authorities and nearly 30 percent were surrendered by their owners. The remainder were relinquished by other sources. Twenty-four percent, or 3 million, of the animals taken to shelters over the three-year period were adopted by new families. Only 10 percent, or 1.2 million, were reclaimed by their owners.
The studies mark the first, large-scale national effort to quantify pet overpopulation in the United States and identify reasons why pet owners relinquish their animals. With this information, the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy hopes to develop strategies to curb the epidemic of pets entering animal shelters.
Of the 70 reasons pet owners could cite for relinquishing their pets, 15 percent said their animals were ill or old and needed to be Euthanized; 7 percent said they were moving; 5 percent felt they had too many animals; 4 percent said owning a pet cost too much; and 3.5 percent said the animals had soiled the house.
In addition, the majority of respondents--62 percent--were under 30 Years of age and 52 percent had at least finished high school.
"Some of the reasons pet owners cited for giving up their pets to shelters may be resolved through educational or other types of programs," Salman said. "Most of the problems are really not with the animals, but rather with pet owners who may not be knowledgeable enough about or prepared for the realities of owning a pet."
The council is composed of 11 non-profit and scientific organizations. Members include the American Animal Hospital Association, American Humane Association, American Kennel Club, American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Veterinary Medical Association, Association of Teachers for Veterinary Public Health and Preventative Medicine, Cat Fanciers Association, The Humane Society of The United States, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the National Animal Control Association and the Society of Animal Welfare Administrators.
Colorado State University's Epidemiology and Animal Disease Surveillance Systems is the scientific co-ordinator for the council. The center is based in the department of environmental health in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
Commitment, Firmness, but kindness.
David is a Canine Behaviourist who works and lives in Marbella, Spain. Tel/Fax (00345) 2883388. His web site is located at: http://www.thedogman.net.
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