Following an article in U.S. News and World Report on the power of the love between people and dogs, in which I was quoted, I talked about the topic in subsequent interviews.
Popular New York radio personality Leslie Gold, a dog lover herself, was curious about how we can deal with the immense grief when our beloved dogs die. Shelley Duffy from CBS affiliate KDKA in Pittsburgh was interested in whether we can go overboard in our affection for dogs.
As the glow fades on National Dog Day, observed annually on August 26, we are still sharing cute photos and stories. We should also think about how we really treat dogs. In my book, I write that dogs are completely embedded into our lives. Having a national day to honor them is just one example of how much they mean to us. Yet, we do things to betray the relationship.
While reflecting on my conversations with Gold and Duffy, I realized that as an animal advocate I failed. While celebrating the love we have for dogs and their roles in our lives, I failed to note that while dogs do so much for us, we often betray them.
Too often, dogs are treated as disposable tools that are discarded when their purpose is served, they get old or sick, or they become inconvenient for any reason. This is abhorrent behavior of creatures that we essentially created from domesticated wolves.
Dogs have no world but ours; they love us conditionally, and we are morally obligated to care for them no matter what. Dogs are family. I maintain that we should not do anything to our dogs that we would not to do a child in our family. Do not neglect, abuse, clone, abandon or otherwise harm a dog.
Humans perform a lot of stupid-human tricks when it comes to their dogs. Are you guilty of any of these? Which ones did I leave out? Have others to add?
Stupid-human tricks involving dogs
- Not providing regular veterinary care
- Transporting dog in the back of a pickup truck
- Using retractable leashes
- Tethering or chaining a dog
- Using beating or intimidation as a form of correction
- Refusing to spay and neuter
- Confining dog in a crate for several hours.
- Not providing proper training and socialization
- Staying on your cellphone while walking your dog
- Buying dogs with puppy mill origins
- Leaving dog in the car, even a few minutes
- Running with dog under inappropriate conditions
If you cannot be a responsible dog “owner,” do not have a companion dog at all. Dogs need social interaction and proper care. Dogs, even service dogs, are not tools. Dogs are sentient beings with emotional needs who require proper care for proper development. They join our human packs, which we call families, and must be treated as the family members they are.
If you cannot properly care for a dog, do not bring a dog into your life. If you know someone who is struggling to care for a dog, check these tips and become familiar with the cruelty laws in your state.
Remember, together we can make a difference.
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