Friendship Earned

00:00 May 30, 2012
By: Debbie Lindsey

In my humble opinion, animals are not our equals—I would not wish to insult them with that placement in the scheme of things. We humans appear to be the more evolved and superior creature but many of our accomplishments ride counter to that supposed greatness. Take for example: war, slavery, genocide, more war, and pollution, which at its current rate will likely render this planet uninhabitable by the next century.

The animals that we call “our pets” are not disposable; (personally I feel no animal is disposable, i.e. those generally thought of as food). Nor are they a possession, toy, trophy, status symbol, income generator, bait, burglar alarm or commodity. They are insecure, hungry, lonely, and in need of, and deserving of love; and in return they will become your best friend and prove to have great reserves of loyalty, humor, and love.

Before a person even considers entering into a relationship with a dog or cat (or any domesticated critter: bird, fish, hamster, etc.) they should ask themselves if they and their family are ready to commit for the duration. Duration being the life of your dog or cat— until death do you part. For some dogs that could be 15 to 18 years and for cats even longer. Are you ready to handle all that goes with that?

There will be annual vet appointments that are crucial to the animal’s good health. Every month you will routinely need to groom, brush teeth, clip nails, administer heartworm prevention and flea control (all easy, yet imperative—no skimping for example on heartworm meds). Every day will consist of walks, play time, cleaning and picking up, patience, more patience and then even more time, and money.

Even the most loving people have trouble wrapping their heads around expenses such as dental care. At home care is crucial and simply involves brushing that will stave off decay and gum issues. However at some point professional exams and cleanings become vital in a dog or cat’s life and can only be done by your Vet. For humane and health reasons the animal must undergo anesthesia for dental cleanings.

My little dog Rosie came to us at age six with so much decay and rot inside her mouth (due to lack of dental care) that her overall health was gravely compromised. In addition, she had heartworms, which required months of dangerous drug therapy to kill the worms that had wrapped themselves around and inside her small heart.

She survived the treatment and was stronger and healthier for it but the damage prior to treatment left her with a heart murmur and congestive heart disease. A few bucks thrown at her by her previous owner would have saved the integrity of her health and thousands of dollars later spent. Prevention saves lives and your hard earned money.

Do not even think about adopting a dog or cat unless you plan to spay or neuter. Why? Because it’s down right cruel to allow them to go in and out of heat constantly without mating (How the heck would you feel? Frustrated to say the least.).

And allowing them to breed is out of the question. Every day 70,000 puppies and kittens are born in the United States. Annually four to six million helpless dogs and cats are euthanized; that breaks down to 11,000 – 16,000 killed every single day. One shelter animal is put-down every 1.5 seconds. In the U.S. only one in 10 will receive a good home for life.

Over-population’s not a big problem in places like China and Russia, where dogs and cats are slaughtered for fur. (Ever notice how real the fur felt on those little toy mice you brought for your cat or the fur trim on that jacket you got some years back—it could easily have been from stray or stolen dogs and cats.) In 2002 the U.S. banned imports and exports of such furs—let’s hope that has been enforced.

Over population is just one of the many reasons to spay or neuter. A dog that is “fixed” has no chance of developing uterine or testicular cancer. The risk of breast cancer and urinary infections is reduced tremendously. Reproductive cancers are common among older dogs that have been bred. Male dogs are less likely to roam, mark territory (for instance, the couch, bed or rug) with urine, or show aggression to other male dogs. Dogs, as well as cats (and people) will pretty much jump through hoops to get laid. Unspayed females bleed 10 days twice a year—not a great complement for your new carpet. And those unruly suitors will be lined up vying for her affections.

There is no denying the expense and moderate risk associated with any surgical procedure but, in the long run, the alternative of doing nothing is far more costly and dangerous. If you do not already have a trusted veterinarian, then start researching and asking friends for references. For more info on cost reductions for spay or neuter procedures go to, your local SPCA, or any animal rescue group.

Many pet dogs are given away, dumped or put-down simply because of behavioral issues that a good trainer could modify or correct. I recommend training not so much for your convenience but for the dog’s happiness—a well trained and socialized dog will be more at ease with other dogs and people; more likely to be welcomed in hotels when traveling and by pet sitters when needed. Acceptable behavior brings about better acceptance. Give your dog all the advantages.

Be their best friend.

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