I believe there are minimum requirements that our companion animals deserve. Recently I’ve come to know a few dogs who aren’t getting a few of them and it makes me sad. They are:
- to not live an isolated life
- a clean and comfortable living environment
- proper socialization with people and other dogs
- appropriate levels of exercise and mental stimulation
I chose Shiba Inus partially because they’re an independent, non-clingy breed. No matter how independent they are though, it’s important to me to spend time with them. They’re part of my family and I want them to be happy and feel loved. We adopted Secret so Snickers wouldn’t be lonely when we can’t be with him.
- Shortly after we moved into our new apartment, we realized that one of our neighbors ties her little Lhasa out in the yard on a chain every afternoon with no water and no shelter and just leaves him there. I guess it’s supposed to be his exercise time, but all he does is yip and cry to go back inside.
- A couple weeks ago, when it was 100+ degrees outside, I noticed a new dog in the apartment complex. He was sitting alone on a 3 x 6 concrete patio. His people were home; I could see them through the window. Turns out he lives on the porch. He’s there day and night, at all hours, whenever we walk by, without even something soft to sleep on.
- Two nights ago, T and I were walking Snick and Secret and we found a little Yorkie running loose in the complex. He didn’t have a collar. We walked all over looking for his person. Finally, we got him to show us where he lived (smart pup) and we knocked on the door. The guy who answered had no idea the dog was missing. Apparently the dog belongs to his roommate, who wasn’t home, and he thought it was tied out on the back porch. I walked past that apartment around 2am tonight and the dog was on the porch in a kennel too small for it to even stand up.
As I’m writing this, Snickers is curled up on the couch next to me and Secret is curled up in her bed. Snick sleeps in my bed at night. I feed them organic vegetables and raw meat and fish. I buy human grade nutritional supplements for them. I feel guilty when they’re bored from lack of exercise because of the heat. I apologize to them if I’m late getting home from work. I train them (ok, well, I train Snickers. I attempt to train Secret.) to be good citizens so they can go as many places as possible with me.
I understand that I’m at one extreme end of the spectrum and the people in my neighborhood aren’t even at the other end. The other end of the spectrum is the people who abuse and torture animals. So why do I worry about these lonely dogs? They’re so much better off than dogs in shelters or dog fight rings. Their situations break my heart though. I wish I could bring them all home and take care of them.
Snickers and I are hoping to get involved in humane education with our local shelter and I’m still planning to create Animals Who Educate (you know, with all my spare time). There must be quicker ways to reach average dog owners now though. Blogs, email lists, online groups, and projects like Snick’s newspaper, The Anipal Times, are all great, but they mostly reach people who are already above average companions to their animals. What are some good ways to reach the owners who aren’t as involved… the ones who may just need a nudge or two to start learning how to be responsible owners?