We’ve moved our clocks ahead and spring is set to start in about a week (March 20th). With the beautiful weather predicted for the Casper area this weekend (highs in the mid to upper 60s, the weather forecast says!), it’s a great time to get outdoors and exercise. And, when you do, take your dog along!
Activities such as walking, jogging, and bike riding doesn’t have to be a solo adventure. Your dog, too, receives many physical and emotional benefits from activity, from sunshine and warm temperatures.
Casper has two dog parks now, one fenced-in and one open. Morad Park isn’t fenced so your dog isn’t safe from the flowing waters of the North Platte River, but there is more room for running. Lake McKenzie Dog Park, located off Bryan Stock Trail, is a two-acre completely fenced dog park that opened in November 2014. Here your dog isn’t as likely to jump (or fall) into the river but this park is smaller than Morad. However, there aren’t bike riders or joggers to deal with either. Whichever park you choose, you and your dog are apt to enjoy the outing, meeting other canines and their special persons and walking (or jogging) the trails.
Breathing clean, fresh air, relishing sunshine and warm temperatures on a Saturday or Sunday at the dog park is a wonderful experience for dogs and their owners. Socializing with others, be they human or canine, can also be a fun and engaging experience – who knows but that a solid friendship may just develop between dogs and/or people from a visit to the dog park?
Spending time on Casper Mountain, where it won’t be 60 degrees (but still a warm spring-like day at 7,000 to 8,000 feet in elevation) can also be a fun way to spend the weekend. Snowshoeing and cross country skiing with dog in tow again provides exercise for man and beast. Just make sure your dog is allowed in the area where you hope to be.
So, spring into exercise with your dog this weekend and feel healthier emotionally and physically … together!
Last month, in fact just a few weeks ago, Miss P, a 3-year-old, 15-inch beagle, won best in show at the annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. This is the second time a beagle has been so crowned, the first being Uno in 2008, who is great-uncle to the newly-crowned Miss P.
I enjoy watching the Westminster Dog Show; there is a lot to be learned about the various dog breeds throughout the world. For example, beagles are scent hounds that have been used for hundreds of years to hunt rabbits and hares. They are considered friendly, curious, and happy dogs that make excellent pets for active families. The American Kennel Club (AKC) ranks beagles as the 5th most popular dog in America. After Miss P's win as Best in Show last month, if trend follows previous year's winner, beagles will jump in popularity. Therein, lies one of the primary concerns held by shelter and rescue workers. The Westminster Dog Show has a tendency to greatly influence the public. According to a blog post from Best Friends Animal Society, one of the most well-known and busy animal sanctuaries in America, “The breed of dog that wins Best in Show at Westminster quickly becomes the new popular dog of the minute. Many people looking for a pet will seek out a dog of the same breed as the show’s top winner.” Sales of puppy of that breed increase dramatically, and, according to the blog, “unfortunately, the sales all too often take place online or in pet stores, the main sales outlets where cruel, inhumane puppy mills deliver their 'product' to naïve customers who have no idea that their expensive new puppy came from a terrible place.”
There are reputable breeders. So, if you want to purchase from a breeder, ensure as best you can that it's a reputable one. Pets sold through pet stores and Craigslist or other such outlets should be be considered very warily; often these come from shady and shabby puppy mills.
Also, keep in mind that for each puppy brought through any breeder, one less is adopted from a shelter or rescue. Nearly 25 percent of dogs in shelters are purebred, and there are many rescue organizations that specialize in specific breeds. From Airedales to Yorkshire Terriers, breed rescues can be found throughout the country. For example, Basset Rescue of Montana is based in western Montana, and Montana German Shepherd and Belgium Malinois Rescue is also based in western Montana. Several websites can help you find a purebred dog (or cat). Montana Pets on the Net offers listings of adoptable animals, including purebred dogs and cats: http://www.montanapets.org/statewide/index.html. You can also search for a specific breed through the Petfinder pet adoption website: https://www.petfinder.com/breeds/, and for a listing of various breed rescues, visit http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/rescue-network/.
Learning about a dog or cat breed prior to bringing one home is critical for both you and the pet. Make sure the animal's temperament and activity level meets your desires. For example, many dog breeds of the sporting, hound, and working groups require large amounts of activity, therefore, you will need to provide more than just a walk around the block for such dog breeds as Labradors, spaniels, beagles, greyhounds, German shepherds, and cattle dogs. Learn more about breeds of dogs at http://www.akc.org/find-a-match/compare-breeds/ and learn more about the various breeds of cats at http://www.animalplanet.com/breedselector/catselectorindex.do.
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.