Committing to Your Dog

The Happy Couple

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!

My doggy soul mate!

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!

 

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Comments

  1. Barbara McWha says:

    You are so right. All shelters and breeders should make sure prospective “owners” are willing to sign a commitment! I feel sorry for people who don’t understand the wonderful life of being committed to a furry friend. I love your blogs.

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  2. Noel Murphy says:

    I read your piece this morning and man do you make a lot of sense…. I am a behaviourist from Ireland and I agree with everything that has been written….. Your right, every owner should be made to commit to the caring and the well being of there new furry friend….. It is not a short term relationship that can be disposed with the first sign of trouble….. Well said young lady, and good luck in your new relationship…. Noel

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  3. Katie says:

    When I was a child I was not allowed to have a dog because of the rather strange attitude of my parents. My father had a dog when he was young and when he was forced to leave east Germany he just left the dog with his mum. Until the dog died, he waited at the station, day and night for my father’s return. This picture of a patient, lonely dog waiting, which my grandma took stayed with me all my live and it has formed me.
    When you see loyalty and love like that it makes you wonder why so many people just chuck their dogs out when they become too inconvenient or too old.
    It was one reason I studied psychology. A part answer is the way we the human race encountered and domesticated the dog.
    Dogs were first used as guarding and later as hunting companions. They were pretty much self supportive and able to live of scraps and hunt for themselves. Dogs live in a similar society as humans do, a ranking order with the top dog taking responsibility of the actions of the group but it is also in total command. Dogs were primarily regarded as working animals, much like horses, and kept in the beginning separate from the family. It wasn’t until much later in history that dogs started to share the family environment, starting with certain fashionable small dogs.
    Before that event we only “bred” dogs for a specific purpose, mainly guardian, hunting, shepherding and as draft dogs, dogs with carts in medieval towns. These dogs worked and were sometimes fed and after work they roamed the streets. All dogs stayed outside except for the dogs of the rich. The majority of the population was poor and not very well educated, hence they treated their dogs like a beast. The French still call the dog a bete. At least dogs were treated like fellow workmates in these times. This changed after the last war. Our society started to become a consumer society, which means that most things one obtains is treated as a commodity, buy, use, through away, today’s social standard. There is also now a new competition in society, be better than they neighbour, make more money etc. of course this reflects in our treatment not only of the dog, but also of each other. Society has grown in many ways in understanding certain human traits and behaviour, but when it comes to dogs the understanding and treatment of dogs is still very limited. Old habits die hard and France is a prime example to that. Dogs are kept to do a job and when no longer needed it gets thrown out or euthanized. Dogs present the weakest link in a family after children and women, hence they take the brunt of what ever happened.
    Today we have a multiple strata society and concerning dogs there are groups which accept dogs for what they are and educate themselves, work with them and integrate them into their lives and family, some groups use and abuse dogs, some need dogs, i.e. homeless, blind, deaf, mental patients, and prisoners where dogs fulfill a vital function, and there are some who just love dogs for what they are, faithful and loyal companions. Dogs are not children and should never be treated like a child is treated, but they can teach us to be better and treat our children and neighbours better. Unfortunately old habits die hard, in the law dogs are classified as property, there is no acknowledgment of a sentient and intelligent being, so many take the right to dispose of an inconvenient property. The US army left hundreds of dogs in Vietnam to die because there wasn’t any room in the planes for them, not a great loss for the armed forces. But lots of people cried for these dogs.
    So why do some treat dogs like they should be treated, or like children, or like a commodity? The answer is very hard to determine, it’s the way society thinks and acts today, the principle of value has shifted based on education and conditioning of the individual and the masses. Education is no guaranty for good dog treatment, neither is stupidity, but primarily conditioning and formed attitudes of individuals. As there is no license for good parenthood, there is no license for good dog husbandry, it is left to a few dog psychologists and behaviourists to try and teach people that dogs are not just property or a commodity but loyal, loving livelong companions.

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