Committing to Your Dog
I just got married! Yippee for me! I swear the second time is the charm, the first time I was 18 and engaged at 16…sometimes I wonder what my parents were thinking when they encouraged me to make that choice. I guess they wanted an empty house and a workout room! But this time I got it right and I commit to him that I will cherish him, love him, and treat him with kindness and respect, for better or for worse for the rest of my life.
Being a dog trainer and a writer I think sometimes I can make anything in my life transmit to dog training and the way I think things “should be” when it comes to how people relate to their dogs. When we read our wedding vows to each other, I thought…shouldn’t this be the kind of commitment we make with our dogs?
Unfortunately, dogs are treated as disposable commodities in our society. If this dog doesn’t work out, you can take it to the animal shelter, find it another home, have it euthanized and move onto the next dog! If you need to move, just don’t have the time, it got too big you can just leave the dog or let it run loose.
A lot of people don’t make a permanent commitment to pet ownership they regard the relationship based on convenience but the best relationships in life aren’t always convenient! Relationships whether they are with humans or animals have their ups and downs, their good and their bad and there are always moments of inconvenience.
The difference is; a dog would never give up on, replace, or abandon his owner. Dogs are in relationships for life. They give up convenience readily, and forgive without conditions.
I once took a dog from a shelter to train as a Service Dog, the reason for his relinquishment…the owner got new carpet and the dog’s fur no longer matched! Although they tried to adopt a new dog (one that matched), the shelter denied them another adoption. I am sure they just moved on to another shelter or place to find a new “temporary” matching dog.
In an effort to help people realize the level of commitment they make when they adopt or buy an animal, I suggest they enter into the same vows they would if they were on the alter with another person!
I _____ take you _____ to be my best friend, my faithful partner in life. I pledge to stay by your side in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, for better or for worse, for richer and for poorer through the good times and the bad. I promise to love you without reservation, to comfort you in times of distress, to encourage you to achieve all of your goals, to laugh with you, to cry with you and to grow with you in mind and in spirit and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.
Good relationships require commitment; they are give and take. You must be willing to work through the bad times and cherish the good.
I have found the “human” love of my life, and I recognize that I am lucky to have that relationship in my life. It isn’t always convenient for me or for him. We both have to sacrifice for each other and no matter what, at the end of the day we snuggle and love one another. We have made the commitment to work through the bumps in the road and the catastrophes together hand in hand.
I have also been blessed with many furry partners throughout my life and I look forward to the moments when we add more to our family. Each time I add a new pet I will think through these wedding vows and make a commitment to the new life that I hold in my hands.
Relationships shouldn’t be taken lightly the furry kind and the not so furry kind. Take the steps toward making a commitment to all of your pets today! I guarantee they wouldn’t hesitate to make the same commitment to you and your family!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.