"The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven, not man's." – Mark Twain, Letter to W D Howells, 4/2/1899

Choosing a Dog.


The following was printed in the March/April edition of The Foothills.

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“Before you even commit to having a dog, please ask yourself what your motivation is for bringing that dog into your life. You don’t need to share these musings with anybody else, but you need to be absolutely honest with yourself because, I promise you, you won’t be able to fool a dog.” Cesar Millan, ‘Cesar’s Way’

Are you miserable and lonely and you would like a dog to take the place of human companionship, do you want your dog to fill the gap left by your children leaving home or to fill the gap of the child you never had, or is this dog coming into your house to fill the gap left by a beloved dog that has died? Do you want a tough looking dog so that you look tough, or a cute dog that you can walk to attract girls? Do you want your dog to be a protector and a weapon and little else?

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If these are your primary reasons for having a dog I ask you to remember that a dog has powerful feelings, needs and desires that are equal to but not less than your own.

A dog is not a doll a child or purse or a weapon and in choosing a dog you have an incredible chance to form a powerful bond with a member of another species but that bond comes at a price; the price of responsibility.

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Ask yourself a few questions to see where your head is before you bring a dog into your life.

  1. Am I prepared to walk my dog for at least one hour every day?
  2. Am I committed to learn how to be a calm assertive pack leader for my dog?
  3. Am I committed to setting clear rules, boundaries and limitations in my house?
  4. Am I committed to providing regular food and water for my dog?
  5. Am I committed to giving affection only at appropriate times and when my dog is calm submissive?
  6. Will I commit to taking my dog to the Vet on a regular basis and have it spayed or neutered and have all its shots and check ups?
  7. Will I commit to socialising my dog so that it is not a danger to people or other animals?
  8. Am I willing to clean up after my dog whenever I walk him?
  9. Am I willing to educate myself on dog psychology in general and specifically on any issues related to my dog’s breed?
  10. Am I willing to put some money aside in case I have to call in a professional for a behaviour problem or an emergency trip to the vet?

Did you score ten out of ten?

If not you may wish to rethink your choice of pet. There are plenty of cats out there that need rescuing and their needs are very different and not as burdensome as a dog’s.

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