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Home > Pet News and Articles > Ready for the Responsibility

Ready for the Responsibility?
Article By: Glenn Redmond

Eleven years ago I enthusiastically walked into an SPCA in Richmond, BC and walked out with the biggest project of my life. I didn't know at the time that the calm and gentle 63 lb, 7 month old Husky-Shepherd cross, would eventually push me to the limits of frustration and test my patience as a trainer.

Oh, let me see… Was it the completely shredded car seat and seatbelts all in the time it takes to purchase a pop at the store? Could it have been the rearranged dining room complete with a watery mess just for taking the garbage to the curb? Or maybe it was the dazzling new couch that Dakota, as he was now known, demolished through a crate door, after he moved he moved it 15 feet across the living room floor. Believe me, I could go on, but 2 years of hard work dealing with separation anxiety brought me a faithful, enjoyable companion like no other.

I never regretted adopting Dakota, but unfortunately many owners do. After acting on impulse, owners often realize after the fact that dog ownership should be a carefully weighted decision.

If you are considering getting a dog then the first question you should ask yourself is should you be getting a dog at all? Dogs are social animals that require time and attention. Every decision you make from now on must have the welfare of the dog in mind.

Gone are the days when a cocktail after a hard day's work was top priority. You now have a dependant at home awaiting your arrival. It's a lifestyle choice and a lot of your free time will be spent walking, training, grooming and cleaning doggy-do from the sidewalk. You must consider costs such as feeding, veterinary care and boarding. And, maybe a contingency plan for that plastic mess that used to be your cell phone.

So, you have accepted the above. Now it's time to be more specific as to what type of dog will fit your lifestyle.

The most important factor when choosing a canine is not looks or even size; it is the compatibility of energy levels and temperament. You may love the size of a Corgi, thinking that its small stature equates to less exercise. Think again. I know many small breeds that are far busier than dogs 5 times their size.

Many self-proclaimed couch potatoes fall in love with the look of a Belgian Malinois, without realizing that the dog rarely tires and that a quick walk to the store to restock the Lay's, is not going to cut it. High energy dogs do not get more passive with neutering or less exercise. Dogs will often put their pent-up energy into unwelcomed home renos or landscaping.

Dogs are extremely instinctual animals and the breed's original purpose should not be overlooked. If you just won an award for your prized gardens, then a terrier that was bred for centuries to dig, may not be the choice for you.

Herding breeds, such as Border Collies, will herd anything that moves, including children or anything on wheels. And, if you dream of playing retrieval games with your new companion, you may be disappointed with a Husky.

Mixed breed's instincts tend to be toned down, but you should still take into account the characteristics of all breeds that make up the dog.

Where to get a dog?

Responsible Breeders
All responsible breeders will give you the true facts - both good and bad about their chosen breed. They are less concerned with making money than they are with finding suitable homes for their puppies. They will be registered with a governing body such as the Canadian Kennel Club and will offer both contracts and guarantees on their health tested puppies. Their premises will be clean and they will offer references upon request.

In contrast, Backyard Breeders and Puppy Mills are only concerned with the money that each pup represents. They are not registered with any governing body and offer no health guarantees, pedigrees or contracts. The dogs are often kept in appalling conditions, rampant with disease and health issues. Pet shops get their puppies from these places, even if they say they don't. No reputable breeder would ever let their puppies be sold in a pet store.

Shelters and Rescue Groups
Dogs end up in shelters for a variety of reasons. Often the reality of dog ownership sets in and owners become overwhelmed with the responsibility. Sometimes it's neglect or abuse. Many of the dogs are adults, ideal for anyone looking to escape the trials of puppyhood. Don't expect to adopt a dog and not have a period of adjustment. As with any dog, expect to spend time training and patterning before you end up with your ideal companion.

There is nothing like the bond you have with a dog. You don't have to worry about looking your best or being mindful of what you say. You will be honored without question. With such acceptance and dedication on their part, we owe it to them to be deserving of their devotion.

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