If people would spay and neuter their pets, there wouldn’t be a problem. If breeders would stop breeding for money, there wouldn’t be a problem. These are just two arguments used over time to solve what some call “the pet problem.”
But these are not solutions that can ever be reasonably applied to our imperfect world. What we can do is provide low-income means to safely spay and neuter animals and we can encourage consumers to only buy from licensed, inspected, humane breeders.
We can also look at the invaluable asset that exists in many of our communities and counties. The local humane societies and rescue shelters. Just a quick peak at our own Lakeshore Humane Society’s mission statement provides us with the answer to “the pet problem.”
“The LHS mission is to ensure humane and compassionate treatment of all animals entrusted to its care, reunite lost animals with their owners, place adoptable animals in responsible and permanent homes, and extend humane education to the public.” (source: www.lakeshorehumane.org/about-us/mission-and-bylaws/)
Reuniting lost animals with their owners. You only have to do a quick Facebook search to see the multitude of posts from organizations alerting followers lost pets to videos of a lost pet being reunited with its heartsick owner to understand the depth of value that pets bring to people’s lives. When a pet goes missing, the pain and heartache is almost unbearable. The reuniting of the two is inspiring to keep going. Humane societies and shelters play a pivotal role, animal control offices, police officers and the general public bring a stray to the shelter for safe keeping and care. The shelter will scan the animal for a microchip, provide food, water, comfort until the owner is found. If the owner declines to pick up the animal or the owner cannot be found, the animal is cared for and placement in a responsible, permanent home is sought.
Placing adoptable animals in responsible and permanent home, this can be challenging for some of the animals. Most shelters will in addition to providing safety and care, will assess an animal for inappropriate behavioral problems and will work with the animal to redirect such behaviors. It is not a perfect solution as time and demand for pets ebbs and flows. In most cases, the shelter will work with the new owner to find suitable training if deemed necessary.
Most shelters, and specifically Lakeshore Humane Society, spay/neuter all of the animals before adoption is final. This invaluable service helps not only the animal and its new family but it helps to stem the tide of unwanted animals loose in the public, being sold or given away to horrible life situations, left to fend for themselves creating unsafe life situations for both the animal and humans.
Extending humane education to the public. While this is achieved differently with each shelter and community, the basis of the education is choosing the right animal for an individual’s life style and resources; finding the proper medical care and training, spaying and neutering your pets; some shelters provide limited medical care including vaccinations; wellness checks and nail trimming. Further education includes the incredible value of microchipping your pet; some shelters place the chip automatically upon intake and will offer low cost placement clinics to other pets in the home.
But there is more that shelters do for the community. Sometimes the best of intentions result in an animal/human relationship that is not positive. Sometimes animals outlive their humans. Sometimes, left with an uncertain future, humans are forced to surrender their animals. Where would these animals go if the shelters did not exist?
In the most recent decades, the tumultuous environment has resulted in natural disasters displacing both humans and animals alike. Shelters are often times the only front line response for the animals and the last hope for their survival.
Humane societies and rescue shelters play a vital role in the health and safety of our pets and our communities. They provide a safe place for lost or surrendered animals, they educate the public on the value of pets as well as making informed care and medical decisions, they help with controlling the animal population.
Until we are in a perfect world, we need to recognize the invaluable asset humane societies and rescue shelters are to our communities and give them all the financial and volunteer support we can to continue to push forward the mission of reunite, shelter, save, adopt and educate.
If you adhere to the saying, “Good things Come in Small Packages,” a member of the Toy Group may be the pooch for you.
Small in size—generally built to fit in your lap—these diminutive dogs are big in personality. They are perfect for apartment dwellers, older dog lovers and anyone who enjoys a cuddly critter on their lap. They tend to be very smart and aware, which brings their protective spirit—and bark—to the front. This tendency to bark may be annoying for some, in which case a member of the toy group is not the dog for you.
Their voices notwithstanding, the toys are often low maintenance, many with generally short, low-shedding coats. Some of the more famous members of the toy group include the Toy Poodle, Shih Tzu, Papillion, Italian Greyhound and Chihuahua. If you prefer a lovable little dog who enjoys indoor ball toss and exercise, a member of the Toy Group may be a wonderful candidate.
This concludes our look at the seven different categories of dogs as defined by the American Kennel Club. Some are big, some are small. Some need lots of room to roam, while others are content to sit by your feet as you watch TV or read a book. But all of them need consistent training and care, and most of all, no matter what the breed, love. Enjoy your dog!
P.S. Don’t forget the multitude of animals looking for a home that have one or more of the AKC’s 190 recognized dog breeds’ blood flowing in their background. They need love and homes, too, and can be a wonderful addition to your home. By knowing a little bit about their breeds’ characteristics you can make a more educated choice about what would be a good fit for you and your family. Happy Dog Days!!!
The Non-Sporting Group may be the most diverse of all the American Kennel Club classifications of dogs. They vary greatly in size, temperament, needs and abilities. In a way they are a catch-all for dogs that don’t have a specific job or purpose. They are not herders, hunters, hounds or terriers. They vary in size from small, like the Lhasa Apso and Miniature Poodle, to medium, like the Bulldog, Tibetan Spaniel and American Eskimo Dog. Other members of this group include the Keeshond, Dalmatian and Chow Chow.
Obviously with this group, over all the others, knowing the specific characteristics of the breed, rather than the group, is extremely important. Which breeds need a lot of exercise? Which breeds are more laidback? Which members of this group are good with children? Which are more of a one-person or one-family companion?
In fact, non-sporting group dogs are often called members of the “Companion Group.” In about the only generalization available regarding the Non-Sporting Group, according to the AKC, is the description of non-sporting group dogs as “intelligent, playful, alert, reserved with strangers and confident.” But before adding one of these great animals to your household, do your homework. Specific characteristics of individual breeds can be found on the AKC website at http://www.akc.org/dog-breeds .
To paraphrase a quote, “Idle paws are the devil’s workshop!” And that is no truer than for the intelligent, loyal and loving members of the Herding Dogs group.
Herding Dogs are wonderful companions and pets, as long as they are challenged with tasks. They need lots of both physical and mental exercise. It is why many members of this group find themselves fulfilling service dog responsibilities, including police work for Herding Dog members such as the German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois, and farm and field work for many other members of this group.
They are also keenly intelligent, with Border Collies, widely acknowledged as the most intelligent breed of dogs, a renowned Herding Dog breed. Other notable Herding Dogs are the Australian Shepherd, Briard, Collie and Old English Sheepdog.
But it is precisely their intelligence and need for physical and mental stimulation that makes them impractical for dog parents who do not have the time or energy to give them that specialized attention. Without proper stimulation, they may become bored and take out their inactivity in socially unacceptable ways. They also tend to be larger dogs (with some exceptions, like the Welsh Corgi) and therefore not a good choice for most apartment dwellers.
But with proper exercise and stimulation, Herding Dogs can be both charming and fun and a wonderful addition to your family.
If you decide to add a canine companion from the Terrier Group, be prepared for an active, feisty friend who needs plenty of love, attention and activity.
Members of the Terrier Group range from small to medium-sized dogs, like the Norwich Terrier and the Kerry Blue Terrier to large, muscular dogs, like the American Staffordshire Terrier and the Bull Terrier. Other members of the Terrier Group include the popular Jack Russell Terrier (like “Eddie,” some would say one of the “stars” of the hit show “Frasier”), the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the Bedington Terrier and the Wire Fox Terrier.
It may be best if you incorporate a member of the Terrier Group as an “only child.” Terriers are hard-wired to chase small creatures, such as rabbits and squirrels, and were originally bred to kill rats. So if your house also includes small pets like cats, ferrets and other small animals, a terrier is probably not a wise choice. And some Terriers may not like other dogs, so be aware of that factor when looking into the Terrier Group.
Terriers are active dogs and need plenty of exercise. They love to play and consequently are wonderful companions for active people who have lots of time to share with their pet. If you have the time and the energy, a member of the Terrier Group may be just the dog for you.
The dogs designated as “working dogs” by the American Kennel Club include some beautiful, bold and big specimens, including Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, Siberian Huskies, Saint Bernard’s, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Mastiffs and Rottweilers.
Working Dogs were bred to, well, work, with duties such as sled dogs, rescue dogs, and guard dogs. And as much as these canine companions work hard for a living, they can also be hard to live with, as they need intensive obedience training and early and consistent socialization.
And, because many of the members of this group are large and even extra large, they also need a big area in which to get their necessary exercise and to just “be.” They are not recommended for apartments or small dwellings. Many members of this group are not always appropriate for first-time dog owners, as they can be stubborn with strong personalities.
Having said that, with the proper training, socialization and exercise, these dogs can be brought into the family structure and are very loyal and devoted. They are also highly intelligent.
So while working dogs might take a little extra “work” and expertise to integrate into your family, the rewards can be great. Take the time to investigate the breed you are interested in from this group. With a little planning and a good amount of work, Working Dogs will reward you with a lifetime of affection and enthusiasm.
Who hasn’t been transfixed by the sad-eyed Basset Hound looking lovingly at a pair of Hush Puppy shoes? Or mesmerized by the elegance of the sophisticated Afghan Hound? Members of the hound group include breeds as diverse as the charming and funny Dachshund to the lazy-eyed Coon hound.
The AKC categorizes hounds as “even-tempered, affectionate and relaxed.” That sounds like a description for the perfect canine companion.
But there are a few caveats. These dogs were bred for hunting. They will resort to their nature by running frantically after bunnies and squirrels or whatever they determine to be prey. Consequently they need plenty of safe exercise, on a leash or in a fenced yard.
Many of these beautiful animals, such as Beagles, Foxhounds and Bloodhounds have distinctive voices which they use to alert their owners of nearby prey. They can’t, however, distinguish between the mail carrier or a mountain lion (the original objective of the Rhodesian Ridgeback).
Some find the resulting “baying” musical; others maniacal. Know your tolerance for this aspect of some members of this group.
With research and care you, like Elvis Presley, may find yourself singing about hound dogs.
Whether you are getting a new puppy or adopting a puppy or dog from a shelter, your criteria for choosing your new member of the family must by more than “he/she is so cute!”
The American Kennel Club recognizes 193 different breeds of dogs. Some are big, some small, some in between. There are very energetic dogs that need plenty of exercise, and other breeds that are more laid back. Some dogs are good with families, and in particular, children; others thrive with adults only.
It is imperative you know into which category the dog you pick falls. There are far too many cases where people discover that the breed they are interested in is too big, too energetic or just plain too much for their family and needs, but only after they’ve tried to integrate that animal into their lives.
To that end, in the next few months we’ll be exploring the seven different groups of dogs, as identified by the AKC: Sporting, Hound, Working, Terriers, Herding, Non-sporting and Toy. We’ll list some of the different breeds included in the grouping, their characteristics and pros and cons. Obviously, the information is general in tone, and good breeding is always paramount when picking a purebred dog.
Finally, there are many wonderful animals who are of mixed breeds, and in our last installment we’ll discuss how to select a dog that is perfect for you and your family. Hopefully, armed with this knowledge, you’ll pick a pooch that will be your best friend for many years to come.
If you’re looking for an exercise partner, the Sporting Dogs might be a good choice. Some of the breeds in the sporting group include the ever-popular Labrador retriever, the German shorthaired pointer, the English springer spaniel, the Golden retriever and the Weimaraner. The AKC describes the Sporting Dogs as “calm inside the home, but exuberant in the field, sweet-natured, fun-loving, devoted and affectionate.” These dogs are generally eager to please, highly trainable, friendly, intelligent and energetic. They need room to run, as they are generally medium to larger dogs, and they need a lot of exercise.
Obviously, by nature of their breeding, they can be excellent hunting dogs. Within the grouping there are spaniels, pointers, retrievers and setters, each with their own specialty in the field.
Whether you’re looking for a hunting partner, a family dog or both, do a bit of research if you think a member of this grouping fits your lifestyle and needs. The AKC website includes a plethora of information, and their dog breed selector site is especially helpful. Find it at www.akc.org/dog-breed-selector/
And remember, no matter what breed you choose, your dog will need training, care and most of all, love.
Next month: The Hound group
It’s that time of the year when our thoughts turn to making improvements for a happier, healthier new year. Whether it’s losing weight, incorporating more exercise or eating healthier, most of us have entertained those changes with a big Jan. 1 starting date.
And really, those same resolutions can apply to our treasured pets as well. If your pooch is getting a little porky, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate his or her diet. Overweight pets can experience the same issues as their overweight human counterparts, including diabetes, sore joints and kidney and heart issues.
To amend these conditions, consider switching your pet to a better quality dog food, feeding recommended amounts to meet individual needs, and avoid feeding your dog human food. Think about it…you wouldn’t benefit from eating pet food, and your pet doesn’t benefit from eating people food, especially food high in sugar and salt. And when it comes to treats, make sure you’re not being tricked into giving your pet cheap treats that are counterproductive to good health.
Even if your pet isn’t overweight, a well-exercised pet is healthier and happier and a better companion. Daily exercise is essential. If you’re already exercising your pet, consider increasing the exercise time, even if it’s just 10 extra minutes a day. You and your pup will both benefit, and before you know it, you will have transformed your treasured pet into your own four-legged trainer.
Along with physical exercise, consider working on your pet’s mental acuity. Teach your dog a new trick every few weeks or play hiding games with him or her. By keeping your pet on his or her “mental toes” as well as their physical ones, you’ll have a well-balanced pet to provide a wonderful source of companionship and love.
Finally, if Santa found your pooch had more naughty than nice marks on his Christmas list, think about enrolling him or her in obedience school. Bad behaviors can be addressed and corrected and together you’ll make 2020 the Year of the Great Healthy and Happy Dog!
Happy New Year!
Mary talked with Craig Dillon at WCUB Radio – Manitowoc, on September 20th about her approach on canine obedience training.
Listen to the interview below: