September can be considered Pet Ownership Responsibility Month, with the American Kennel Club designating Saturday, September 8, as Responsible Dog Ownership Day.
What does pet ownership responsibility mean? First, it means more than simply providing food and water to your dog or cat. Not doing that basic is illegal and is called neglect. But, is it neglect if you only provide food and water and don’t provide attention and interaction with your dog, leaving him or her on a chain under a tree all day? In some places, yes, in other places no.
For those of us who love our pets, it’s a no-brainer to provide them with shelter from wind, rain, snow, and heat, and to interact regularly with them – sitting on a couch watching TV, taking walks and hikes, playing with toys, going for drives, etc.
How can all of us be more responsible pet owners? Hop over to this article posted on the American Veterinary Medical Association website and learn how we can be more responsible toward our furry friends and how we can educate others how to be as well.
Pet owners don’t need a special time to honor and celebrate their pets, but during the month of September the American Kennel Club and other organizations remind owners that dogs are a major responsibility and these groups honor dogs and dog owners in various ways.
National Dog Week is generally observed the last week of September; it's a time when dog owners and various organizations honor dogs. William Judy, who started Dog World Magazine during the 1920s, first set aside this special week as a way to celebrate those special creatures most consider “man’s best friend”.
The American Kennel Club (www.akw.org) honors both dogs and owners during Responsible Dog Ownership Days. The AKC is hosting a major event in North Carolina on September 19, and various AKC chapters will host activities highlighting the joy (and responsibility) of owning a dog throughout September. People and organizations can register the many activities they do with their dogs to impart responsibility. To learn more, visit http://www.akc.org/events/responsible-dog-ownership-days/.
Dogs are fun, dogs are loyal, and dogs are a major responsibility. Sadly, many people ignore that fact and treat their dog like a commodity instead of living, breathing being. That's why we have so many dogs in shelters, thousands of which are killed every day in those facilities. Pet ownership irresponsibility is also why there are so many animal rescue organizations that try to find new homes for abused, unloved, unwanted animals. People need to realize and recognize not everyone needs to, or is cut out to, have a pet. If you can't/won't take care of a dog or cat properly, which means providing it not just food, water and shelter, but also love, loyalty, and attention, then DON'T GET ONE! Get a plant or a pet rock instead.
I have had pets since I was seven years old. I didn't always understand the major responsibility it took to have a pet, but as an adult I learned that responsibility, and I love and appreciate the animals in my care. They bring me joy, companionship, and devotion; they lift my spirits, comfort me when I'm sick, and stick by me when I've felt alone and abandoned by human beings. I am thankful, so very thankful, for my pets!
I enjoy sharing the lessons dogs (and cats) can teach us, and I share many of those lessons (of life and faith) in the books I write and the presentations I give. Dogs and cats have served humankind for thousands of years, from rodent control to family and property protector. Native Americans and other cultures used dogs to transport loads (prior to tribes getting the horse). Still today, dogs serve people in a variety of ways: herding and protecting flocks; finding fowl in the field; guiding the blind; assisting wheel-chair bound individuals; rescuing lost children; and bringing smiles to those in hospital beds. And, still people mistreat, maim, and kill these precious living creatures out of evil, spike, and sometimes just a lack of knowledge. Education and empathy are keys to stopping the cruelty and neglect people still inflict upon dogs and cats, and other animals.
May those of us who cherish and appreciate dogs take time to do something to honor and celebrate canines this month. May we also take time to educate others, especially children, to be kinder to animals and to be responsible pet owners. Consider attending a special event near you for Dog Ownership Responsibility Day and take family members and friends. And may we all do our part to help animals in need by helping rescue groups and shelters in our communities. National Dog Week and Responsible Dog Ownership Days can be the catalyst for positive change in how our society views and treats animals.
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.
The Westminster Dog Show takes place next month, and in anticipation of the big event, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has recognized three new dog breeds for competition: the Chinook, the Rat Terrier, and the Portuguese Podengo Poqueno.
The Chinook is an American dog breed. Originally bred as a sled dog by musher Arthur Treadwell Walden of New Hampshire, this rare breed makes an excellent family pet. Walden bred a farm dog of unknown heritage with a “northern” husky, possibly from Greenland, producing a litter of puppies with tawny coats. One of those pups, named Chinook, grew up to father a dog breed that not only had his physical characteristics but also his gentle disposition. A team of Chinooks transported supplies for Admiral Richard Byrd’s trek to Antarctica in 1927. The calm and dignified Chinook generously dishes out affection on family members and is known for its love of children. This breed is also known for its thick, tawny-colored double coat and amazing athletic ability. The Chinook needs lots of daily exercise – when bored it can be quite destructive and won't be entertained by lounging on the couch. These dogs thrive at dog sports, including sledding and agility, herding, and obedience and make great companions for active families. Chinooks stand 22 to 26 inches tall, weigh 50 to 90 pounds, and live 12 to 15 years. In 1965, the breed was considered the most rare type of dog in the world. Still uncommon, this state dog of New Hampshire seems to be making a comeback.
The Rat Terrier is also an American dog breed. His ancestry includes the Smooth Fox Terrier, the Italian Greyhound, Miniature Pinscher and Beagle. An all-purpose farm dog, this breed was used to kill rats and hunt small game. Like many of its terrier cousins, the Rat Terrier is smart and active, which means it needs plenty of exercise and mentally-stimulating activities – if not provided these things, the Rat Terrier can be quite destructive. Engaging in dog sports like agility and flyball will keep this energetic little dog stimulated mentally and physically. This breed is calmer than other terrier breeds and enjoys lap time with its people. Smart and fun-loving, the Rat Terrier likes to be involved and can be prone to separation anxiety. Therefore, early training and plenty of socialization is required for this breed (and its owner) to be happy. Rat terriers come in two sizes: miniature (10 to 13 inches at the shoulder) and standard (13 to 18 inches tall). They weigh between 8 to 25 pounds and can live 12 to 18 years. These small dogs can be big chewers. They are also known to be barkers and diggers. Plan to use a dog crate, tall baby gates and exercise pens for this breed. Because of their friendly disposition, rat terriers can make great therapy dogs.
The Portuguese Podengo is a sighthound originally bred to hunt rabbits in packs. This breed comes in three sizes and two varieties: the smooth, with a short, dense coat, and the wirecoat, with a medium-length, rough coat. Originating from Portugal, this breed resembles the Pharaoh Hound, Ibizan Hound, and Cirneco dell Etna, and is probable that all of these breeds share the same ancestry. The AKC registered the Podengo as part of the Hound Group. An alert dog, the Podengo makes an excellent watchdog. But, be aware: it likes to chase other furry creatures, and that would include the family cat! This breed can jump very high as well as straight up, therefore, insure you have a very tall fence if you get one of these dogs. Height sizes for these dogs are 8 to 12 inches, 16 to 22 inches, and 22 to 28 inches at the shoulder; weights are 8 to 14 pounds, 35 to 45 pounds, and 44 to 66 pounds. These dogs generally live 10 to 14 years. Well-muscled and extremely athletic, they need of regular exercise and excel at agility and lure coursing. Podengos can also do well in obedience and tracking.
As another season of Westminster rolls around, it will be interesting to watch these new breeds in the ring and see how they fare during the upcoming competition, February 10 and 11, 2014.
Photo credit: American Kennel Club
Pet owners don’t need a special time to honor and celebrate their pets, but throughout the year there are various recognitions in honor of pets. For example, the second week of May is Be Kind to Animals Week, the month of June is Adopt-A-Shelter-Cat Month, and November is Adopt-A-Senior-Pet Month. The last week September is considered National Dog Week, when dog owners and various organizations honor dogs.
William Judy, who started Dog World Magazine in the 1920s, first set aside this special week as a way to celebrate those special creatures deemed “man’s best friend”.
The American Kennel Club (www.akw.org) honors both dogs and owners during National Dog Ownership Responsibility Day. The AKC is hosting a major event in North Carolina on September 21, and various AKC organizations will host activities highlighting the joy (and responsibility) of owning a dog throughout September. People and organizations can register the many activities they do with their dogs to impart responsibility. To learn more, visit http://www.akc.org/clubs/rdod/index.cfm.
In my community, we're having a Pet Fest on Saturday, Sept. 14. The Central Wyoming Kennel Club will be there as well as many other organizations and people who love dogs.
Dogs have served humankind for thousands of years, from protector to bearer of burdens. Native Americans, for example, used dogs to transport loads prior to the horse. Still today, dogs serve people in a variety of ways: herding and protecting flocks; finding fowl in the field; guiding the blind; assisting deaf and wheel-chair bound individuals; rescuing lost children; and bringing smiles to those in hospital beds. Here’s a quick look at some of the ways dogs help people:
Assistance dogs are specially trained to help people manage physical or emotional disabilities. Guide dogs assist the blind, deaf assistance dogs alert people to the telephone or doorbell, and assistance dogs help those in wheelchairs open refrigerators and building doors.
Search and rescue dogs look for the lost. From hikers and skiers to victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, these hero dogs put their health and life in the balance in the line of their duty.
Military and police dogs also put their lives on the line. From sniffing for drugs or bombs to patrol duties, these dogs serve our country in the United States and abroad.
Visiting hospitals and nursing homes, therapy dogs bring smiles to the faces of ill children and lonely senior citizens.
Read-to-the-dog programs are popular in many libraries across the country; these programs help children become better readers for they aren’t as nervous reading to dogs as they are reading with adults. The Butte Public Library, for example, has a program called Paws for Reading, at which time children interact with special visiting dogs.
Sporting dogs, including spaniels, retrievers and pointers, help bring home dinner in the form of ducks, pheasants, and partridge,
Herding dogs, like the Australian Shepherd and the Old English sheep dog, have the genetic instinct to drive and gather livestock. Historically, they have been used to assist shepherds and farmers; many of these dogs, such as the collie and the Canaan dog, have been used for centuries.
A variety of dogs are working breeds, including the Siberian husky and the Bernese mountain dog. Others, including German Shepherds, Akitas, and Doberman pinschers, help protect people and property.
Dogs help people in many ways, including the simple acts of helping us exercise, lowering our blood pressure, and getting us to laugh and smile more often. So, honor your special pooch during National Dog Week with an extra ounce of kibble, a special hug, or a day outdoors in the field. And, consider attending a special event near you for Dog Ownership Responsibility Day.
Also, remember those wonderful canines you don’t know, like those that search for lost hikers, those who dig skiers from avalanches, those which have given their lives sniffing for bombs, dogs that bring a smile to a grandfather’s face when visiting the nursing home, and dogs that spend time in libraries listening to children hesitantly read aloud… dogs in service to others for the sake of all.
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.