On This Page:
Ten Commandments for a responsible dog owner
"I am your puppy"
"How Could You?", a story
Seven Good reasons to have your pet spayed or neutered
Planning to get a Christmas Puppy?
Ten Commandments for a responsible dog owner
- My life is likely to last 10-15 years, any
separation from you will be painful for me. Remember that before you
- Give me time to understand what you want from me,
don't be impatient, short-tempered, or irritable.
- Place your trust in me and I will always trust you
back. Respect is earned not given as an inalieable right.
- Don't be angry with me for long and don't lock me
up as punishment, I am not capable of understanding why? I only know I
have been rejected, you have your work entertainment and friends I only
- Talk to me sometimes, even if I don't understand
your words I understand your voice and your tone, "you only have to
look at my tail".
- Be aware that however you treat me I'll never
forget it, and if it's cruel it may affect me forever.
- Please don't hit me I can't hit back, but I can
bite and scratch and I really don't ever want to do that.
- Before you scold me for being uncooperative,
obstinate, or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me.
Perhaps I'm not getting the right foods or I've been out in the sun too
long, or my heart is getting old and weak, I may be just dog tired.
- Take care of me when I get old. You too will grow
old and may also need love, care, comfort, and attention.
- Go with me on difficult journeys, never say, "I
can't bear to watch" or "Let it happen in my absence". Everything is
easier for me if you are there. Remember, irrespective of what you do I
will always love you.
© Stan Rawlinson 1993
Dog Behaviourist and Obedience Trainer
0208 979 2019
I AM YOUR PUPPY
I am your Puppy, and I will love you until the end of the Earth, but
please know a few things about me.
I am a Puppy, this means that my intelligence and capacity for learning
are the same as an 8-month-old child. I am a Puppy; I will chew
EVERYTHING I can get my teeth on. This is how I explore and learn about
the world. Even HUMAN children put things in their mouths. It's up to
you to guide me to what is mine to chew and what is not.
I am a Puppy; I cannot hold my bladder for longer than 1 - 2 hours. I
cannot "feel" that I need to poop until it is actually beginning to come
out. I cannot vocalize nor tell you that I need to go, and I cannot
have "bladder and bowel control" until 6 - 9 months. Do not punish me
if you have not let me out for 3 hours and I tinkle. It is your
fault. As a Puppy, it is wise to remember that I NEED to go potty
after: Eating, Sleeping, playing, Drinking and around every 2 - 3 hours
in addition. If you want me to sleep through the night, then do not
give me water after 7 or 8 p.m. A crate will help me learn to
housebreak easier, and will avoid you being mad at me. I am a Puppy,
accidents WILL happen, please be patient with me! In time I will learn.
I am a Puppy, I like to play. I will run around, and chase imaginary
monsters, and chase your feet and your toes and 'attack' you, and chase
fuzzballs, other pets, and small kids. It is play; it's what I do. Do
not be mad at me or expect me to be sedate, mellow and sleep all day.
If my high energy level is too much for you, maybe you could consider an
older rescue from a shelter or Rescue group. My play is beneficial, use
your wisdom to guide me in my play with appropriate toys, and activities
like chasing a rolling ball, or gentle tug games, or plenty of chew toys
for me. If I nip you too hard, talk to me in "dog talk", by giving a
loud YELP, I will usually get the message, as this is how dogs
communicate with one another. If I get too rough, simply ignore me for
a few moments, or put me in my crate with an appropriate chew toy.
I am a Puppy; hopefully you would not yell, hit, strike, kick or beat a
6-month-old human infant, so please do not do the same to me. I am
delicate, and also very impressionable. If you treat me harshly now, I
will grow up learning to fear being hit, spanked, kicked or beat.
Instead, please guide me with encouragement and wisdom. For instance,
if I am chewing something wrong, say, "No chew!" and hand me a toy I CAN
chew. Better yet, pick up ANYTHING that you do not want me to get
into. I can't tell the difference between your old sock and your new
sock, or an old sneaker and your $200 Nikes.
I am a Puppy, and I am a creature with feelings and drives much like
your own, but yet also very different. Although I am NOT a human in a
dog suit, neither am I an unfeeling robot who can instantly obey your
every whim. I truly DO want to please you, and be a part of your
family, and your life. You got me (I hope) because you want a loving
partner and companion, so do not relegate me to the backyard when I get
bigger, do not judge me harshly but instead mold me with gentleness and
guidelines and training into the kind of family member you want me to
I am a Puppy and I am not perfect, and I know you are not perfect
either. I love you anyway. So please, learn all you can about
training, and puppy behaviors and caring for me from your Veterinarian,
books on dog care and even researching on the computer! Learn about my
particular breed and it's "characteristics", it will give you
understanding and insight into WHY I do all the things I do. Please
teach me with love, patience, the right way to behave and socialize me
with training in a puppy class or obedience class, we will BOTH have a
lot of un together.
I am a Puppy and I want more than anything to love you, to be with you,
and to please you. Won't you please take time to understand how I
work? We are the same you and I, in that we both feel hunger, pain,
thirst, discomfort, fear, but yet we are also very different and must
work to understand one another's language, body signals, wants and
needs. Some day I will be a handsome dog, hopefully one you can be
proud of and one that you will love as much as I love you.
May be posted, reposted, cross-posted and used with permission as long
as credit is given. Copyright 2000, by J. Ellis - Southern Shadows
Dear Friends - What follows is a new essay I've
written, which I hope will
help change some minds among those who consider animals
That's not you, of course, but if it only sits in your in-box, then it
just "preaching to the choir." I hope you will post it where it can be
by those most in need of its message, distribute it to your address
and cross-post it to other lists.
You are welcome to distribute it any way you like, just please retain
title and copyright line.
"How Could You?"
Copyright Jim Willis 2001 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When I was a puppy, I
entertained you with my antics and made you laugh.
You called me your child, and despite a number of chewed shoes and a
of murdered throw pillows, I became your best friend. Whenever I was
you'd shake your finger at me and ask "How could you?" - but then
relent, and roll me over for a bellyrub.
My housebreaking took a little longer than expected, because you
terribly busy, but we worked on that together. I remember those nights
nuzzling you in bed and listening to your confidences and secret
I believed that life could not be any more perfect. We went for long
and runs in the park, car rides, stops for ice cream (I only got the
because "ice cream is bad for dogs," you said), and I took long naps in
sun waiting for you to come home at the end of the day.
Gradually, you began spending more time at work and on your career, and
time searching for a human mate. I waited for you patiently, comforted
through heartbreaks and disappointments, never chided you about
decisions, and romped with glee at your homecomings, and when you fell
She, now your wife, is not a "dog person" - still I welcomed her into
home, tried to show her affection, and obeyed her. I was happy because
were happy. Then the human babies came along and I shared your
I was fascinated by their pinkness, how they smelled, and I wanted to
them, too. Only she and you worried that I might hurt them, and I spent
of my time banished to another room, or to a dog crate. Oh, how I
love them, but I became a "prisoner of love."
As they began to grow, I became their friend. They clung to my fur
pulled themselves up on wobbly legs, poked fingers in my eyes,
my ears, and gave me kisses on my nose. I loved everything about them
their touch - because your touch was now so infrequent - and I would
defended them with my life if need be.
I would sneak into their beds and listen to their worries and secret
and together we waited for the sound of your car in the driveway. There
been a time, when others asked you if you had a dog, that you produced
photo of me from your wallet and told them stories about me. These past
years, you just answered "yes" and changed the subject. I had gone
being "your dog" to "just a dog," and you resented every expenditure on
Now, you have a new career opportunity in another city, and you and
be moving to an apartment that does not allow pets. You've made the
decision for your "family," but there was a time when I was your only
I was excited about the car ride until we arrived at the animal
It smelled of dogs and cats, of fear, of hopelessness. You filled out
paperwork and said "I know you will find a good home for her." They
and gave you a pained look. They understand the realities facing a
middle-aged dog, even one with "papers." You had to pry your son's
loose from my collar as he screamed "No, Daddy! Please don't let them
my dog!" And I worried for him, and what lessons you had just taught
about friendship and loyalty, about love and responsibility, and
respect for all life. You gave me a goodbye pat on the head, avoided
eyes, and politely refused to take my collar and leash with you. You
deadline to meet and now I have one, too.
After you left, the two nice ladies said you probably knew about
upcoming move months ago and made no attempt to find me another good
They shook their heads and asked "How could you?"
They are as attentive to us here in the shelter as their busy
allow. They feed us, of course, but I lost my appetite days ago. At
whenever anyone passed my pen, I rushed to the front, hoping it was you
that you had changed your mind - that this was all a bad dream...or I
it would at least be someone who cared, anyone who might save me. When
realized I could not compete with the frolicking for attention of
puppies, oblivious to their own fate, I retreated to a far corner and
I heard her footsteps as she came for me at the end of the day, and I
along the aisle after her to a separate room. A blissfully quiet room.
placed me on the table and rubbed my ears, and told me not to worry.
heart pounded in anticipation of what was to come, but there was also a
of relief. The prisoner of love had run out of days. As is my nature, I
more concerned about her. The burden which she bears weighs heavily on
and I know that, the same way I knew your every mood.
She gently placed a tourniquet around my foreleg as a tear ran down
cheek. I licked her hand in the same way I used to comfort you so many
ago. She expertly slid the hypodermic needle into my vein. As I felt
sting and the cool liquid coursing through my body, I lay down
looked into her kind eyes and murmured "How could you?"
Perhaps because she understood my dogspeak, she said "I'm so sorry."
hugged me, and hurriedly explained it was her job to make sure I went
better place, where I wouldn't be ignored or abused or abandoned, or
fend for myself - a place of love and light so very different from
earthly place. And with my last bit of energy, I tried to convey to her
a thump of my tail that my "How could you?" was not directed at her. It
you, My Beloved Master, I was thinking of. I will think of you and wait
May everyone in your life continue to show you so much loyalty.
Seven good reasons to have your pet
spayed or neutered.
1. For every baby born in the United States, seven puppies
are born. Obviously, there can never be enough homes for them all.
2. A male dog can smell a female in heat up to seven miles
males are frequently lost, stolen, or hit by cars as they travel in
of females. Neutered animals are less likely to roam and fight.
3. Spayed and neutered pets live longer, healthier lives.
The risk of
prostate, breast, and uterine cancer is reduced or eliminated. Spaying
neutering does NOT make your pet fat or lazy.
4. Eight million pets are put to sleep each year in animal
the US Even if you find homes for your pet's litter of kittens or
that means fewer available homes for the many other unwanted pets.
5. In six years one female dog and her offspring can be the
67,000 puppies. In seven years, one cat and her young can produce
6. Spayed and neutered pets are better, more affectionate
Altered animals are less likely to bite or have temperament problems.
cats are less likely to spray and mark territory.
7. Few things are sweeter than the face of a young puppy or
only one of every five animals born will find a home. Most end up at
shelters after their owners grow tired of them or find them too
To help solve this ever growing problem, please have your
pet spayed or
neutered and let others know of the pet overpopulation problem. Every
prevented means more homes for the dogs and cats that already exist.
If you want to breed your dog for the children to see "The
Birth", may I recommend buying a video that you can pop in the VCR at
convenience. Here's a link to one you should probably check out:
Here is a page with a couple of hundred links about what's
to get a
I found this information (I didn't write it, wish I had!) and
share it with everyone. It's mainly for those of you planning on
someone a puppy for Christmas!! Those of you who are smart already know
to. WARNING: this is long!
To many people, a puppy is the perfect symbol of the true
spirit of Christmas.
A puppy represents wonderment, innocence, exuberant energy,
love, hope for the future. These are the sorts of gifts that many of us
we were able to give one another. And that is a good thing. In an
violent, horrifying, mind-numbing and impersonal world, Christmas time
many that there are more important values, that there is hope and love,
joy comes from giving of oneself more than it does from taking. To many
these values bring to mind the loyal, loving, uncorrupted, hauntingly
innocence of a puppy.
Indeed, many advertisers and artists have noticed this
of cozy family Christmas mornings often include scenes of floppy-eared
peering innocently out of a colorful gift box, their eyes wide with
and awe. As the scene continues, the puppy stumbles preciously over
of gift wrappings, to the great amusement of delighted children who
to hug the youngster and receive big wet puppy-slurps in return. Mom
Dad smile knowingly in the background as the true meaning of life is
before their eyes. What could possibly be wrong with this picture?
Nothing. As art, as fiction, or as advertisement, it captures
a lot of the
symbolic spirit of the Christmas celebration perfectly. The appeal of
scene is like that of Norman Rockwell's paintings. As advertisement, it
It sells products, even those totally unrelated to dogs or to
As fiction it warms people's hearts. What's wrong, though, is what
when real people try to re-enact this warm loving scene in their own
with a real, living puppy playing the role of a prop in this mythic
I am not against dog ownership. I have two dogs myself, and I
think the world
would be a lot better place if more people had meaningful relationships
dogs. My concern here is with the future of those living beings, those
puppies with child-like eyes who show up as gifts on Christmas morning.
images like the one I described may look irresistibly appealing in
art, advertising or fiction, the future for those real-life puppies who
out under the Christmas tree, in all probability, will turn out to be
grim. Groups as diverse as, and often at odds with one another as, the
Society of the United States, canine behavior experts, the American
Club, PETA, Animal Rights Activists, breed rescue groups,
obedience training instructors, and most reputable breeders of sound,
dogs, are in strong agreement that live puppies should not be given as
gifts. Here are some of the reasons:
THE ATMOSPHERE OF CHRISTMAS MORNING FRIGHTENS THE PUPPY.
People who study canine development and behavior have found that
like children, go through developmental stages. The first
period in a puppy's development occurs roughly between 7-12 weeks of
However this is also when the puppy is developmentally best capable of
its litter and beginning to form bonds of attachment with its new
Most breeders agree that this is the right time to send a young puppy
with its adoptive family. However, it is also extremely important not
over-stress or unduly frighten the puppy during this vulnerable time.
learned during this first fear/avoidance period can be very, very
to overcome later, even with the very best training or behavior
techniques. In other words, traumatic experiences at this point can
a permanent impact on your puppy's personality as an adult dog.
Your puppy's experiences of leaving its mother and
litter-mates, and its
arrival in its new home and introduction to its new family, can
affect its ability to bond with and trust humans. The puppy needs to be
introduced to its new home and family during a relaxed and quiet,
time, with a minimum of loud noises, flashing lights, and screeching
ringing phones, visiting company, and other types of general hub-bub.
morning is absolutely the worst time, in terms of the puppy's
needs, for introducing this newly-weaned youngster to its new family.
THE TIMING TEACHES CHILDREN THE WRONG VALUES.
Many families who value pet ownership do so at least partly because of
children can learn from the family pets in terms of care and
love and loyalty, and respect for other living beings. But think of
happens to the rest of the toys and gifts that start out under the
tree. By Valentine's Day, most of them have been shelved or broken or
or forgotten. The excitement inevitably wears off, and the once
toy becomes something to use, use up, and then discard in favor of
A living puppy should not be thought of in the same category
as a Christmas
toy. Children need to learn that a living puppy is being adopted into
family - as a living family member who will contribute much, but who
also have needs of its own, which the rest of the family is making a
to try to meet. A puppy who makes its first appearance as a gift item
the Christmas tree is more likely to be thought of by children as an
as a thing-like toy rather than as a family member. This will not teach
of the most valuable lessons there is to learn from a puppy, which is
for living beings and concern for others in the form of attention to
A GOOD BREEDER WILL NOT SEND A PUPPY HOME ON CHRISTMAS
Responsible breeders - those who guarantee the health and temperament
their puppies, and who are abreast of current knowledge about canine
genetics, socialization and development - already know these things and
not send a puppy home with its new owner on Christmas morning. If you
to be able to obtain a puppy from someone who actually let you have it
Christmas Eve so that it could appear under the tree on Christmas
that should tell you something. It should warn you that you would be
your puppy from someone who does not know enough about canine behavior
development to be in the business of breeding or selling puppies.
You would be much better off acquiring your newest family
addition from a
breeder who knows enough about dogs, and who cares enough about the
puppies that he breeds and places, to insist that you take the puppy
under conditions which would be best for the puppy. If your breeder
not insist on this, you are purchasing a puppy from a breeder who does
know or care enough about his "product," to be in that business, and
should acquire your pup from someone else instead.
THE PUPPY GROWS UP AND HAS NEEDS.
Many people have a somewhat romantic view of what dog- ownership is
This romanticism can become exaggerated by the warmth and loving
associated with the Christmas season. People who have not had dogs
or who have not had dogs since they were themselves children, or who
recently had a dog but one who was a canine senior citizen trained and
to the family's ways long ago, often are completely unaware of how much
it is to raise a puppy from infancy into a good adult canine companion.
may have mental images of happy times romping with the dog on the
or curling up in front of the fireplace, of playing Frisbee in the park
of hunting with a loyal companion. All these are things they might well
eventually enjoy with their canine companions. But they may have
forgotten, or perhaps not ever really have known, how incredibly much
it takes to raise and socialize a dog from puppyhood to that point of
Unlike cats, who generally do not need extensive training and
dogs require a huge commitment from at least one person who is prepared
teach the dog what behaviors are expected of him, under a wide variety
circumstances. Adults may believe that they remember a Faithful Fido
their youth who seemed never to need training; Faithful Fido always
to "just know" what was expected of him. But those adults were children
the time, and they did not necessarily see all the work that their
and others put into training and socializing Fido.
Professionals who deal with dogs regularly, call this common
"Lassie Syndrome." That is, everyone hopes for that imaginary dog who
E.S.P. and who automatically knows how to behave in human company
needing any training. In other words, they want a dog like "Lassie."
"Lassie" was a fictional character. "Lassie" actually was owned and
by Rudd Weatherwax, one of the most hardworking and successful
trainers of dogs in the history of US television and film. Rudd
spent his entire lifetime training "Lassie" to do those things which
spontaneous in the fictional story lines. No real, non-fictional dog is
Real dogs not only must be housetrained - most owners are
aware of that need;
they also must be taught not to chew the furniture, taught not to jump
their owners, taught not to play-bite, taught not to bowl over the
taught not to dig holes in the yard, taught to come when they are
taught not to eat the homework or the woodwork, taught not to swipe
off the table, taught not to growl at strangers or bark at the mail
taught to walk on a leash without dragging their owner down the block,
to allow their toenails to be cut and their coats to be groomed without
the groomer, taught not to shred feather pillows and down comforters,
not to steal the baby's toys, taught not to growl at their owner's
taught to sit, stay, and to lay down when and where the owner tells
to, and to wait there until the owner says they may get up (absolutely
commands for the dog's own safety), taught not to escape out the front
or out of the yard or out of the car when the owner looks away for just
second ... all of these things and many more are not "natural" canine
they must be taught by owners who are willing to spend the time and the
The reason I mention this is because lack of owner knowledge
about the amount
of work required to socialize, raise, and train a puppy, is one of the
factors contributing to a huge national problem: the problem of
and young adult dogs being "given up" by owners within the first year
so of having acquired the animal. Untrained, unsocialized puppies might
"cute" and "natural" but they are tolerable only for a few weeks, if
that. Then they start to be nuisances. Then they start to be major
Sooner or later they become downright dangerous to themselves or to
families and neighbors.
It is often between the ages of 7-14 months that the dog
is brought to the pound or to the vet for euthanasia by a frustrated
as an "uncontrollable" dog, or as a dog with "behavior problems." Or
it is taken to a shelter in the faint hope that it will be adopted by
else. (Chances are almost certain that it won't; nobody else wants an
unsocialized dog's behavior problems either.) By that age the untrained
is a full-grown and unruly adolescent. It might have bitten a family
or threatened a neighbor's child, necessitating the involvement of a
animal control officer. Or the dog may have run away and been hit by a
Or it may be adopted into a series of homes, one after another, none of
can adequately control it, until it finally winds up on death row at
These tragic dogs, those wonderful canines known to
generations as "Man's
Best Friend," never had a chance. According to statistics kept by the
Society of the United States, the majority of puppies and kittens born
the United States never reach their second birthdays, even though their
lifespans should be many times that length. They die from being hit by
euthanized by owners, starving or being fatally injured in fights with
animals - including wild animals, some rabid in many areas - after
run away from their owners, or being taken to shelters, pounds or vets,
they are "put to sleep," usually before the age of two. In other words,
many canine deaths are squarely the responsibility of owners who did
understand what it would involve properly to train and socialize their
or who did understand, but did not do the necessary work.
IT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO.
"Christmas puppies" often are impulse purchases, in a spirit of love
giving and generosity that goes with the season, but without the hard
self-assessment that goes into asking oneself if one has the time and
energy and the inclination to give the necessary commitment to raising
socializing and educating that puppy. Better to get that new puppy at a
emotionally charged time of the year, when the decision to add a dog to
family is a less impulsive and more carefully considered one,
by seasonal generosity of spirit, which might just fade a bit after the
comes down and the lights are put away.
If you are absolutely set upon getting your family a puppy for
consider this alternative instead: Purchase a leash, a collar, a good
on raising a puppy, a gift certificate for a veterinary checkup, a gift
certificate for puppy socialization classes from one of the local
instructors, a book or video tape on the topic of how to select the
dog for your family (there are several, including even a computer
that purports to help you do this), or a gift subscription to one of
Wrap these up and put them under the tree. As family members
unwrap the various
pieces of the "puzzle", their delight and anticipation will grow. They
gradually understand what this present is! Then, after the Christmas
is taken down and the frenzy of the holiday season is behind, the
can once again enjoy together the anticipation and excitement of
and selecting a breed, selecting a breeder, selecting an individual
and so on. This will increase the family's mutual commitment to, and
in, the well-being of the newest family member. It will be a project
family has done together, which is a wonderful way for any adoption to
This will not decrease the enjoyment of your new puppy; I guarantee it.
will increase it by many fold. And it will be a better start both for
puppy, and for the long-term relationship between dog and owner(s). A
with a good introduction to its adoptive family is much more likely to
a long term companion rather than just another tragic statistic.
"Twas The Night Before
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the
house Not a creature
was stirring, not even a mouse; The stockings were hung by the chimney
care, In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, With no
thought of the
dog filling their head. And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
he was cold, but didn't care about that.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, I sprang
from the bed
to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash,
the dog was free of his chain and into the trash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow Gave the
luster of mid-day
to objects below, When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But
Claus - with eyes full of tears.
He unchained the dog, once so lively and quick, Last years
now painfully thin and sick.. More rapid than eagles he called the dogs
And the dog ran to him, despite all his pain;
"Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN! On,
COMET! on CUPID!
on, DONDER and BLITZEN! To the top of the porch! to the top of the
Let's find this dog a home where he'll be loved by all"
I knew in an instant there would be no gifts this year, For
had made one thing quite clear, The gift of a dog is not just for the
We had gotten the pup for all the wrong reasons.
In our haste to think of the kids a gift There was one
that we missed. A dog should be family, and cared for the same You
give a gift, then put it on a chain.
And I heard him exclaim as he rode out of sight, " You
a gift! You were giving a life!"
-Stacey Vincent -------
Santa comes quietly long before dawn
While shops are still busy and lights are still on
While dinners are cooking and kitchens are warm
And children count presents they'll open by morn.
He slips past the trees in windows aglow
Through the gate to the backyard As icy winds blow
To find the pup he brought last year Chained up in the snow
And, kneeling, he whispers, "Are you ready to go?"
There are too many stops like this one tonight
Before the beginning of his regular flight
He leaves not a note or footprint in sight
Just an unbuckled collar On a cold Christmas night.....
From Laura Hamrick, Qui me amat, amat et canem meum. - St.
Clairvaux, "Sermo Primus" 1150