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It's Not All About You

When I go out on walks I meet all manner of people who stop me to chat about my dogs.

Some of them will also mention that they have a dog who's at home and therefore not on the walk with them. When I ask why, they come up with all manner of ridiculous and selfish excuses as to why their dog is sitting at home bored while they take themselves out for exercise.

Ridiculous And Selfish Excuses

It’s not that some of the excuses I've heard are ridiculous and selfish - ALL of them have been. In fact, I can’t think of one good reason to leave a dog at home while you go for a walk. Not one. Even if your dog isn’t particularly mobile due to old age or illness, you can still take him or her out using the special needs equipment out there that’s readily available (see Chapter 7: The Right Equipment for details).

It all comes down to this: it’s our responsibility to take our dogs out as much as possible. It’s not just a little side hobby that can be done whenever we feel like it. It’s a responsibility. A responsibility only second to making sure our dogs have safe shelter, good food, and a constant supply of fresh water. It’s a daily responsibility that should never be shirked (unless you yourself are very unwell and simply can’t go out) because the fact is your dog’s life is very boring - stuck in the house all day long, only able to leave when you take him or her out.

A Dog's Life Is A Boring Life

Remember, a canine’s natural inclination is to roam and run and be free. We have created domesticated canines (ie. dogs) and denied them the ability to carry out these natural instincts. This is a terrible thing we've done, and it’s something we must try to rectify to the greatest extent possible.

Am I suggesting that we should just allow our dogs to run loose? No, of course not - why in the world would I suggest something that would end up killing our dogs? We live in an urbanised world full of motor vehicles that dogs don’t understand the inherent danger of.

What I am suggesting is that we give our dogs as much opportunity as possible to be out and about with us. And that means whenever you go out for a walk or a run or a bike ride, you take your dog with you. Every time. Without fail.

'Me Time' And Ruined Walks

During one bike ride, a man told me how great it was that I was cycling with my dog. He was out cycling too, and said that his dog was at home. I asked him why his dog wasn't with him, and he told me, “This is me time”. I couldn't believe it: why would someone choose a dog-friendly activity as their 'me time'? 

One woman told me that she doesn’t take out her dog because she doesn’t want to ruin her walks. (Yes, “ruin” was the word she used!) She said she wants to be able to walk as far and as long as she wants, and that having her dog with her would impede this. I informed her that the breed of her dog (Border Collie) could walk and even run for hours at a time - much longer than she could ever last. I also told her that it’s unfair of her to go out for walks only to leave her dog at home, bored out of his mind.

She responded with another excuse, telling me that her dog was too strong for her to walk - that he was hard to control. I showed her the HaltiŽ that Jasmin was wearing and told her that all petshops carry them. I explained that the HaltiŽ greatly reduces a dog’s pull and that she’ll be able to handle him easily when using it.

Your Dog Is Relying On You

Let me wind up this Dog Blog with a reminder that dogs have little excitement in their lives. Their daily joys mainly consist of eating and going out for exercise. And seeing as both of those activities are completely up to us, if we don’t bother with the outings, our dogs are left with even less on their already-small list of exciting daily events. So put yourself in their paws and realise how much they depend on you to have even a half-way decent life.

So do away with the excuses. Your dog is your responsibility, and you need to take that responsibility as seriously as if you were caring for a human child. Because the bottom line is: it’s not all about you.

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Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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