This month, instead of one Pet of the Month, in honor of International Dog Day, August 26, 2022, we are recognizing all of the amazing dogs who share their lives with people. From working dogs, to a kid’s best friend, dogs have enriched the lives of individuals and families across the world. We wanted to share some photos of a few of the dogs we have had the pleasure of meeting and providing veterinary care for over the past few months and years.
Dogs come in all sizes, shapes, colors, breeds, and personalities. That’s what makes them such a versatile pet and companion. They can share our sofa, enjoy a walk or a hike, sit with us when we are sad and be an enthusiastic partner when we ready for some fun. Big or small they all have something to offer, and we certainly learn a lot from them as well as learning a fair amount about ourselves.
The fun thing about dogs is most of them want to please. The are interested in us. They want to spend time with us, they want our attention and they are not judgmental about who we are. They don’t care how we look; they don’t comment on our clothes or how smart we are (see caveat below; they may test our smarts) and for the most part they don’t care about where we live or whether or not we have a fancy car or house. They want to be with us for us. That is the crux of a true friendship.
Now let’s be real, dogs can be a lot of work and at times frustrating. They expect us to provide them with regular tasty meals, treats on demand, toys, soft spots to sleep and they expect us to keep them entertained. Being left alone is not something that dogs enjoy. They want to be the center of our lives yet they aren’t focused on all the work and commitment required on our part. Sharing your life with a dog necessitates regular vacuuming, picking up poo, wiping nose smudges off the car windows and purchasing a vast array of related equipment – leashes, collars, bandanas, harnesses, combs, brushes, balls, squeaky toys, special treats, booties, dog beds etc. etc. etc.
Most of our dogs don’t earn a living, and they really don’t care about our nice things. They want to romp in the park, roll in mud puddles, pick up things off the ground, chase the squirrels, bark at the car going down the street, and avoid following the rules we make. And they are known to take advantage of our soft hearts and our lack of consistency. From their perspective, many rules are meant to be broken or ignored completely. Food left out on a table is fair game, shoes might be snagged as a chew toy, jumping on the bed is fine even if you have been rolling in something outside, and being told to ‘stop barking’ could mean you need to be more persistent to get your family’s attention.
On the other hand, dogs are loyal, loving, and amazing workers doing their jobs day after day, with simple rewards such as a game of tug, a treat, a ball or just a ‘what a good girl!’ verbal praise. Beyond being pets, dogs are trained to assist people in all sorts of ways. From search and rescue, guiding the blind, providing assistance to people with special needs, herding sheep & cattle, providing security in our communities and airports, aiding in crime investigations, to seeking out the scat of wildlife to help with research and conservation, dogs are an adaptable group and an important part of society.
Being a responsible pet or working dog owner also carries some responsibilities. Beyond the basics of food and shelter, there is an obligation to see to a dog’s health care needs including regular evaluations by a veterinarian, vaccinations, parasite prevention, proper nutrition to maintain a healthy weight, regular exercise, appropriate training and attending to each dog’s emotional needs.
Caring for our dogs from the young puppy to the senior dog, and every age in between is a lifetime commitment. They all have specific needs and rely on you to help them live a healthy, happy life. Being prepared to meet the needs of your dog means being educated, providing a budget, making space in your busy life to spend meaningful time with them, being there not just when life is easy, but also when they are sick, when they need some extra assistance because of injury or age, and finally to be there when their life is coming to an end.
We don’t always have a choice as to what the future brings, and there are many opinions across the internet about what constitutes the appropriate pet care, not all of them accurate. The best advice we can give you, is to follow the science and the most up to date information from experts who have dedicated their lives to helping our dogs live their best lives. Your dogs deserve nothing less.
Now, go give your dog a hug, or better yet, go out for a walk and enjoy some time together.
Here are a number of groups to help answer your questions and to help you be a great steward for your dog:
- Fear Free Happy Homes – tips for pet owners
- Animal Health Begins with Behavior
- Cooperative Care – Do you know what this means
- AKC – Teach your puppy these 5 basic commands
- Victoria Stillwell – Positively – How to teach your dog in a positive way
- Dr. Sophia Yin – Cattle Dog Publishing – Stress Free Handling for Pet Owners
- ASPCA – Ins and outs of adopting a dog
- New pet parent – herding dog choices
- Pets and Parasites – what you need to know
- Tufts Veterinary Nutrition – finding the best food for your pet
- Tufts – Dog Nutrition Websites – finding the best of the best
Working dogs and links of interest:
- Assistance Dogs Northwest
- Conservation Canines – University of Washington
- Rogue Detection Dogs
- Smithsonian article – Sniffing out whale poop
- Wildlife biologists are putting scat sniffing dogs to good use
- Guide Dogs for the Blind
- Working airport dogs
- Military Four-Legged Fighters
- Military Dogs in History
- AKC – Awe-inspiring avalanche dogs
- AKC – Cancer sniffing dogs