Our animal companions play such an important role in our lives and surprising research shows that human-animal bonds can have huge psychological and physiological benefits.
Stress Reduction—A brisk walk with your beloved canine can sooth nerves and offer instant relaxation. And the relaxation carries over once you’re home. Studies show that individuals who live with companion animals suffer less stress than those who don’t and also react better to stressful situations. Many hospitals, assisted living care centers, nursing homes, and similar facilities have begun to invite therapy animals into their establishments because of the proven positive impact on stress reduction and overall health. One therapy dog I spoke to told me it gave her a sense of purpose and that she knew she had come into this world to serve others. Continue reading →
Ten Things Your Animal Companion Wants You to Know
Years ago I lost my beautiful tan tiger kitty, Taz. Weeks later, in the throws of grief I sat at my desk crying, my head resting in my hands. Suddenly I heard his voice. I am here. I’m not leaving yet. There’s something I want you to know. In fact every animal companion want’s their human to know these things. And he began to share a stream of conciousness that I raced to capture, scribbling furiously as he spoke. Here are the ten things he shared with me.
Be faithful – To yourself, to your word, and to your commitment to me. I need to be able to trust you.
Be love – Surround yourself with love so you can in turn surround me with unconditional love as I do you.
Be clear – Before you ever bring me into your home; be clear with your intent, about what you want, and about what you intend to give back to an animal companion. Then ask yourself if you are ready to do what it takes to care for me.
Be wise – Know what my needs are. Equip yourself with knowledge about what I require nutritionally, physically, mentally, emotionally and if you can…spiritually. Be creative in finding solutions outside of the traditional. And be aware that I need balance.
Be there – Do not bring me into your life if you cannot be there for me physically and emotionally. While I do sleep a good amount, my waking hours without you can sometimes be lonely unless I have another companion.
Be aware – Of how I and my needs may change as I grow older. Be cognizant of the slightest changes in my state of being. And be ready to address them holistically.
Be kind – Always. I have a reason for everything I do and you may not be aware of my purpose in any given moment.
Be compassionate – Your needs and desires are not more important than mine. Always remember that I have a purpose and destiny that is as important to me as yours is to you.
Be consistent – With feed, care, nurturing, timing. Patterns are important to me as is knowing what to expect.
Be the change – Be the change you want to see in the world. Speak up against abuse and neglect. Help others to change inappropriate attitudes and behaviors. Be a role model for love and compassion.
When he was done speaking, I was awestruck, as I am so often about the wisdom present in the animal kingdom and the lessons humans can and should learn from these noble creatures. Thank you for sharing, beautiful Taz.
Yes, puppies are adorable, but they’re also a lot of work. Adopting a dog when it’s in its puppy years is somewhat like having a baby. If you adopt a puppy, plan on having some sleepless night and being constantly on watch. Puppies need constant attention and time to adjust to their new homes. They miss their littermates and can be very lonely, which leads to crying and even howling throughout the night. An older dog will likely already be housebroken, will be more likely to resist chewing your favorite shoes, books, glasses, furniture, etc., and can require less training and vigilance from you. The reality is…if you’re not ready for a baby, you’re not ready for a puppy.
Older Dogs Are More Likely to Have Some Training
More often than not, an older dog will have received some training in their prior homes. And even if this isn’t the case, an adopted dog may be coming from a foster home where its temporary family will have provided some training and socialization.
A Great and Grateful Companion
If you’re adopting an older dog, chances are he or she may not have had a perfect life. Dogs land in shelters or rescue groups due to neglect, abandonment, or abuse. This can have a tremendously negative impact on their emotional state. Those giving an older rescue or shelter dog a second chance may find that the dog is eager to be a part of a family and may bond more quickly than a puppy.
Knowing What You’re Getting Into
When you adopt an older dog, you know exactly what you’re getting. Personality, size, and health are already apparent. With a puppy, there can be some unknowns in regard to how they will mature and develop. An older dog, coming from a rescue or shelter, will have been evaluated for temperament and behavioral issues, and they’re done growing, so you know, for the most part, what you’re getting into.
Not Supporting a “Puppy Mill”
When you buy a puppy from a pet store, chances are that the poor dog came from a puppy mill and could suffer from poor health and medical complications down the road. Puppy mills are horrific breeding facilities run by people who care little for the welfare of their breeding dogs and whose sole purpose is to churn out litter after litter of puppies for profit. Dogs in puppy mill facilities receive little or no medical care, are generally caged for their entire lives, and have a poor quality of life. When you adopt an older dog from a shelter or rescue organization, you’re not supporting the puppy mill trade.
Save a Life
It’s a sad fact, but many shelters haven’t adopted a “no-kill policy, which means that if an animal isn’t adopted within a finite window of time, it’s euthanized. In fact, it’s estimated that 4 million dogs are euthanized annually. And since puppies can be more sought after for adoption, older dogs are often passed by for their cuter counterparts. Adopting an older dog from a rescue or shelter not only saves its life, but it makes room for the shelter or rescue to take in another dog so you’ll really have rescued two dogs. And once you bond with your new companion, you may find yourself wondering who rescued who.
So there you have it. The beauty of adopting an older dog…and six beautiful reasons why you should.
Spay or Neuter—Spaying or neutering your animal companion is actually healthier for them, reduces the desire to wander, and wards off risks of cancer!
Vaccinate—When your animal companion was born, he received protection from many diseases from antibodies passed through the mother’s milk. These antibodies dissipated by the time he was about three months old, leaving the immune system vulnerable. Talk to your vet about the recommended vaccines for your area. Continue reading →
It’s a sad fact that millions of dogs (and cats) are relinquished to shelters each year. Sadder still almost half are euthanized before they ever have a chance at finding a forever home. Here are five reasons to adopt…not shop for your next dog.
Give Back and Save a Life
If you’re ready for a new dog, adopting your new companion means you’ve saved a life. Dogs in high-kill shelters often have only days to find a new home before the are put down. You’ll feel good knowing that the pet you just brought into your life is a dog that you saved.
You’ll Play a Part in Solving the Pet Population Problem
When you buy from a pet store or a breeder, you create a demand for more puppies. This means breeders will continue to breed their dogs to make more money. When you adopt, you’re providing a homeless and abandoned dog a new lease on life.
Get a Dog Whose Training Is Underway
Dogs who find their way to rescue generally receive some training from either the rescue organization or foster families. When you buy a puppy from a breeder, the sole responsibility for training your new canine will fall to you.
Dog shelters have a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and breeds. In some instances, you can even find purebred dogs and puppies. And in most areas, breed-specific rescues are common, which means once you determine the breed you’d like, you can quite often find a rescue with dozens of possibilities.
Get Help Finding Mr. or Mrs. Right
Shelters and rescues generally evaluate the temperament of each dog and can help pair you with the
perfect partner. If you buy a puppy from a breeder or pet store, you have no idea how that dog will develop. Getting advice from people who’ve had training in pairing people and pups will ensure that you find the right dog for you.
Want to form a more connected bond with your animal companion? One of the most profound ways is to learn to communicate with them and speak their language. From my experience all animal species communicate through telepathy using their minds, thoughts, and feelings to convey a message.
Once you have trained your mind or your intuition to receive messages they may take many forms. Animals communicate in pictures, feelings, emotions, and concepts. You can then translate these inner impressions in ways that we (and other humans) can understand. Continue reading →
Hundreds of puppies are born every day, and hundreds of adorable puppies are put to sleep in shelters across North America. We have a serious pet overpopulation problem right now. In this post we’ll share the top 10 reasons not to breed your dog.
1. Don’t breed your dogs if your goal is for any reason other than advancing the breed. Financial gain as a reason is unacceptable. Responsible breeders stand behind every puppy in their litters, ensuring that each dog has a forever home with them should they need to be returned.
2. Don’t breed if you do not have the physical and financial resources to keep every puppy—whether the litter produces one puppy or 10 puppies—in case you are unable to place them in responsible and appropriate homes.
3. Don’t breed just because your neighbor likes your dog and wants a puppy from him/her. There is no guarantee that your dog will pass its looks, temperament, or personality along to its offspring.
4. Don’t breed if you have not done the appropriate health checks on the prospective parents. Diseases are rampant in the dog world. Without the due diligence up front, you increase the odds of breeding offspring with undesirable, inheritable conditions that could have been avoided.
5. Don’t breed if you are not informed. Know the ins and outs of the type of care that both the puppies and their mother will need. Puppy care can easily take many long hours each day!
6. Don’t breed if you don’t know a thing about socialization. Puppies need introduction and exposure to household noises, children, dogs, and a variety of experiences to build the strong confidence and character that will make them good members of society.
7. Don’t breed dogs with poor temperament just because they are structurally “a good example of the breed.” Conversely, dogs that are not structurally sound will pass their physical flaws to their offspring.
8. Don’t breed if you do not realize that you are putting the life of your dog at risk. Yes, my friend, some bitches die in the process of whelping puppies, to say nothing of the fact that the puppies often die too!
9. Don’t breed just because you think it would be good “sex education” for your children. If something goes wrong, it can traumatize a child. Children can get good education from watching Animal Planet. There’s no need to put their own beloved pet at risk.
10. Don’t breed if you are willing to let your pups go to just anyone who comes along. You need to consider the lifestyle and financial resources of any prospective family and then make the appropriate match, which may include no match at all! Don’t be afraid to reject prospective adopters if they’re not qualified to be puppy parents. Good breeders take responsibility for every pup in their litters.
There are so many reasons to adopt your next dog. But many people have misconceptions about what they’ll experience in the process. In this post, we debunk seven myths about dog adoption.
Dogs in Shelters or Rescues Have Behavioral Issues.
Some dogs in shelters or rescues can have issues stemming from abuse or abandonment or lack of training from their previous family, but quite often this is the exception rather than the rule. Recent economic challenges have forced families to relinquish their companions due to a variety of issues. Which means there are plenty of fabulous animals waiting for a new forever home.
I Won’t Be Able to Get a Purebred.
Many shelters have dozens of purebreds to choose from, and if you do some homework, you’ll easily find breed-specific rescues that not only have purebreds but may also have animals with papered pedigrees.
While shelters and rescues do require an adoption fee to cover some of the expense of spaying, neutering, microchipping, and tending to the medical needs, this fee is generally a fraction of what you’d pay to purchase a pedigreed dog from a breeder.
I Won’t Be Able to Get a Puppy.
Shelters and rescues have dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages, which means you can quite often be able to select a puppy if your home and living situation is deemed a good choice.
Shelters and Rescues Have Plenty of Room for New Dogs.
The sad fact is that about 4 million dogs are euthanized each year because shelters need to make room for incoming dogs each day. In high-kill shelters, a dog’s lifespan is about seven days. Rescues struggling to run on meager funds can only take in a finite number of dogs and can’t take on new dogs until they adopt out dogs they currently have. Both rescues and shelters can only save a finite number of dogs each month.
Rescue Dogs Have Physical Issues.
Dogs in shelters and rescues have usually been checked out by the vet, have been fixed, and are up to date on shots. This means that you’re adopting a dog you know is healthy. If there are any issues, the shelter or rescue will be upfront with you so there are no surprises. A breeder might not. Reputable breeders are diligent about the health of their dogs, but backyard breeders and—even worse—puppy mill breeders are less diligent.
Rescue Dogs Need Training.
All dogs need training in order to peacefully coexist with their human families. Dogs from rescues will generally receive some training in their foster homes, from volunteers, and in some cases from professional trainers. These dogs will also have been evaluated for temperament so that they can be placed with the appropriate family.
Health—Spayed and neutered pets live 30 percent longer than intact animals. Sterilization reduces, or can eliminate, a number of health problems that are difficult and/or expensive to treat, such as mammary, uterine, ovarian, prostate, and testicular cancers. Female dogs have a 700 percent increase in breast cancer rates after only five heats. Male dogs not neutered have a 25-30 percent chance of getting prostate or testicular cancer.
Behavioral Issues—Spaying and neutering makes your dog a better, more affectionate companion who is less apt to stray, mark territory, and attempt to wander the neighborhood. Dogs that are unsterilized often have more behavior and temperament problems (such as aggression, territorialism, and predatory instincts) than dogs who have been spayed or neutered. Irresponsible breeding is often the source of dog aggression, attacking, and biting. Note that, contrary to some popular beliefs, altering does not make dogs lazy. Altered dogs are as playful and energetic as intact dogs. Continue reading →