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By Kay Turpin
Marion County Animal Shelter
Dogs are social creatures. They like to be with their families and included in activities and daily life. Being a responsible dog owner means teaching your dog to be a good house pet and a good canine citizen, and putting in the time and effort to make him a part of the family.
It’s baffling why some people get dogs, only to stick them outside on a chain to live their entire lives outside without human contact. This is physically and mentally cruel. Imagine how bored you would be if you were stuck all alone with nothing to do, day after day!
Making the decision to get a dog should not be taken lightly. Dog owners need to be prepared to feed, train, exercise, groom, and interact with their dogs, and get them medical care when needed. Although smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger ones, many dogs of all sizes can live into their teens. Anyone thinking of getting a dog should be prepared for a long-term, lifetime commitment. Sharing your life with a dog can be such a richly rewarding experience!
You might have seen TV commercials that show a happy family scene of a puppy being given as a gift at Christmas. The scene typically shows a cute, roly-poly puppy with a big bow around his neck, little tail wagging furiously, squirming in a child’s arms.
Sometimes parents will give in to their kids’ begging and bring home a puppy. What’s not shown are the puppies, now grown up and not as cute anymore, being surrendered to animal shelters, re-homed to other families or simply abandoned.
A dog is a life that thinks, feels, and needs a permanent and loving home. Dogs don’t make good gifts at any time, for any reason. The giver or the recipient of a dog may not realize just how much responsibility they are.
The novelty wears off quickly when the dog starts messing in the house, wanting to go outside for walks, having to be fed and watered regularly, jumping on people, and nipping or displaying other behavior that he needs to be taught is not okay.
Whenever possible, I try to encourage people to visit their local animal shelter or a dog rescue group. There are many wonderful purebred and mixed breed dogs looking for a loving family.
Many people mistakenly believe that all “shelter dogs” must have something wrong with them. This just isn’t true. Many dogs in the shelters are “victims of circumstance” and are there through no fault of their own.