Saturday, June 27, 2009

What Does “Responsible Pet Ownership” Really Mean?

By Ruthie Bently

From time to time, CANIDAE puts “freebies” in their bags of food. The first bag of their food I bought had a magnetic calendar in it; the next bag I got had a bracelet in it. On one side it says “CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods” and on the other side it says “RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERSHIP.” I don’t need to be reminded what that means, however I wear it every day so it is always in my focus. But what does responsible pet ownership really mean?

It means doing everything you can to make sure that the pet you choose (or the pet that chooses you) has the best life you can provide for them. If you pick a puppy, it means regular vet visits for the first year with booster shots, having your puppy neutered or spayed if you're not a breeder, teething and everything else that owning a puppy entails. It means getting into a puppy class for training and socialization so you have a well-behaved dog. High quality food and fresh water daily are on the list too, and should be at the top. You need to provide proper teething and chewing toys for your pet, as well as toys for regular exercise. You may even want to consider giving your dog a job to do, as they thrive on variety in their lives.

Responsible Pet Ownership means dealing with ticks, fleas, heartworms, kennel cough and all the other parasites and diseases that may come along. It means regular grooming, bathing and toenail clipping. It could also include picking burrs and weed seeds out of paw pads and coats, so they do not imbed themselves and cause an infection or a matt in the fur. Responsible Pet Ownership means having a safe place for your pet to play outside, with proper shade and confinement, as well as fresh water.

If you adopt a “special needs” pet, it could mean dealing with daily medications, healing salves, physical rehabilitation, monthly vet visits, even sizing changes for a cart if that is what your dog needs to move around. Responsible Pet Ownership means being vigilant every hour of every day to keep your pet safe from environmental dangers that may be in your home and on your property that you may not even realize exist.

It means living with a sentient creature that loves you just because you are. They don’t care how long you spend away from home and dance around when you get back. They don’t care if you have had a bad day at work, they are just glad you are home. They snuggle with you when you are sick, and cuddle with you on cold winter nights. They will hog the blankets and the bed (if you let them). They get you to exercise and spend more time outside in the sun, the rain, the snow and everything in between. They give unconditional love, are non-judgmental and expect nothing in return. They make us better humans, because they can.

It doesn’t really matter what kind of an animal you choose to spend your life with. Just like us, they have quirks or oddities; whichever word you choose will suffice. That’s not important to them, as they just want to be with us. As a species, we are truly blessed if we have an animal or two (or more) in our lives. They make us better humans.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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