Paws for a Moment by Bonny Corbeil

One of the greatest joys you can have in life is owning a dog. It is also a great responsibility.

The average life-span of a dog varies from eight to 16 years depending on the type, size, genetics and care. It is important to understand your dog, as well as know about its proper care, because of their dependence on us humans.

All dogs are descended from their wild cousin, the wolf. They look for snug areas with low roofs, called dens, to sleep in. As pack animals, dogs do not enjoy being alone. That is the reason they are such great companions. A dog that is chained up and given very little attention will be an unhappy animal. This can often result in both behavioral problems and constant barking.

Every pack needs a leader. It is important that the human being is the leader, so that your dog follows your lead! That is why it is said there are no bad dogs, just poor dog owners. If a dog is allowed to become the leader, this results in aggression or other dominant displays. A well-behaved dog is a joy and an undisciplined dog a real problem, for both your family and the community.

Teaching your dog the basic training skills of sitting, staying, and retrieving, is the first step in building a good relationship with your pet. What you are doing is training your dog to follow your directions as the pack leader. Bits of food can be used as rewards. The end result is a pet who is only interested in following your lead and getting your approval!

As pack leader, you have the responsibility of caring for your dog. This means ensuring there is daily food, water, exercise, grooming, health care and most importantly love and affection.

Many people feed their dog human food. This is not a good idea as it can result in vitamin and mineral imbalances, bone and teeth problems. It can also cause very picky eating habits as well as obesity. Chicken bones and chocolate are two examples of potentially dangerous snacks that can cause serious health issues. Quality dry dog food will provide your dog with the necessary well-balanced diet that is needed. Your dog needs clean fresh water available every day, especially here in the tropics!

Keeping your dog well-groomed will help hair do what it is designed to do—protect from the sun and insulate from the heat. Regular brushing will remove dead hair and stimulate your dog’s skin. Your dog really enjoys this grooming ritual. It is also important to always ensure that your dog is shaded from our intense sun. Never leave your dog in an enclosed vehicle, even if the windows are open, as the temperatures can be unbearable.

Dogs are territorial. That is why they want to protect our homes and properties. They also love to go for walks. This gives them the opportunity to check out all the smells of the neighborhood. Always put your dogs on a leash when walking them. This is both for their safety and the consideration of other people who may not be as comfortable with animals as you. It is equally as important to bring a “pooper scooper” on your walks – bringing a plastic bag works great. Dogs are stimulated by smells and will naturally want do their business during a walk. It is imperative that you clean up after your dog! It is the law, and more importantly, it is respectful towards others who use our sidewalks and streets.

Your dog should have a dry, clean place to sleep each night as well. If your dog tends to roam, tie him up. Be sure to purchase a tag from our ACC as well. This will help in its return home quickly if lost. Again, it is your responsibility to ensure its safety as well as that of your fellow community members.

You will find that the time you invest with your dog will be greatly rewarded by its dedication to you as a great companion and friend. Paws for a moment—are you are being a good and responsible dog owner?

The very important Wagapooloza ACC fund-raiser date is definitely set for May 13.

There will be a kids T-shirt design contest for school students. Your T-shirt design should have a cat and dog in it, and most importantly help us all focus on being kind to animals! Call Nancy Louis for more information at 779-4731.

The ACC needs dog walkers! Please help out. Call the ACC at 774-1625.

“Help Us Care”