Sunday, January 13, 2019

Pet Peeves: A Dog Lovers Lament

I love dogs. Large and small. Happy and sad. I do not love all dog owners. I’ve watched while dogs bark, lunge, snap and bite, I don’t blame them. I blame their people. People who abuse, starve and abandon them. And people who fail to teach them how to be a good four-footed being in this two-footed world. 

Here’s the deal: When you become a dog owner, you have a big responsibility to your dog. Your responsibility goes beyond food, exercise and love. You are responsible for helping your dog understand and navigate the world around them. That means your dog needs to be taught some basic rules. And you need to understand what your dog really wants and needs. 

Sit. Stay. Listen. 

These are life saving commands. Have you ever seen a dog get hit by a car? I have. Terrible as it is, what hurts me most is knowing that, in most cases, it could have been prevented. 

Basic training is not easy. It takes time, patience, determination and lots of treats. I know because I’ve trained all my beloved dogs.  And, I also know, that it’s not impossible, however it might seem at the time. Right now, I’m working with a super sweet 18 month old lab who is a combo of Scooby Doo and Tigger. He’s smart which makes my job of teaching him both easy and hard. 

I love him. So I teach him. 

We work many times a day inside and out. We are making great progress, but we still have much to learn together. Now he moves only his head toward other dogs, kids and squirrels, instead of lunging away from me. He sits and waits near the door better. He still wants to rush up to everyone, so we ‘pass’ others and then, walk back to chat at shorter and shorter distances. He knows how to go to his ‘place’ and hang out calmly. And he did amazing this week while I threw on the wheel! 

There’s more to teach him and more for me to learn, too. This is a loving, life-long relationship. I laugh at his antics and cherish his sweet, tiggerishness, knowing that our playful training sessions are creating a strong loving bond.

Dogs do not belong in a grocery cart at Home Depot on a Saturday. 

Your dog does not want to be at Home Depot, Macy’s, or Fred Meyer. Trust me. I can feel it. Your dog is feeling confused, overwhelmed and scared. 

I watched 3 small white dogs barking for release from the trap of a moving shopping cart. I worried as an old terrier tried to navigate the slippery tile floor at Macy’s. I saw a lab mix barking uncontrollably in the hardware aisle at Home Depot because he was terrified of all the people walking all around him while his owner bent and shopped completely oblivious to him. I heard repeated pages in Fred Meyer for an owner to please, please, please come and claim their loose German Shepard mix from the front cashier. And yesterday, I saw a pet owner leash their sweet young puppy to an  outside table, then go into New Seasons to shop. 

It pains me to see untrained dogs in all the wrong places. If your dog is not an official service dog, do not take them shopping with you. Do not leave them locked in your car in the parking lot. Do not leash them to a table and leave. Do not let them run ‘free’ anywhere but in a secure, fenced area. Dogs can drown. Dogs can get hit. Dogs can get lost and stolen. 

Teaching your dog to sit and stay can save his life. 

It’s that simple.

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