Our blog’s 6th anniversary (“blogiversary”) is coming up in one week, which naturally got me thinking about the principle of responsible pet ownership. CANIDAE chose that phrase as the name for this blog because it’s a perfect fit for the company philosophy. Responsible pet ownership is not only a fundamental value of the company founders, but every employee as well.
As such, I like to discuss it here once in awhile to serve as a gentle reminder of what the term means, what it entails and how we can all be the best, most responsible pet owners possible. We are, after all, the ones in charge of every aspect of our pet’s wellbeing. Their health and happiness is in our hands. This is always at the forefront of my mind; I want to make good decisions, because my cats’ lives depend on it…and on me.
Many people – myself included – think of their animal companions as family. We want the best for them, just as we do for the important humans in our lives. The difference is that the humans can do many things for themselves that will make a positive impact on their quality of life. Our four legged friends can only rely on us, which is why being a responsible pet owner is so important.
In a perfect world, that would mean no one would ever be allowed to adopt a pet unless they agreed to take care of it for life, not “until.” You know…until the baby comes, until they have to move, until the pet becomes too old or inconvenient. Sadly, our imperfect world is filled with people who abandon their animal companions for one reason or another.
Adding a dog or cat to your family is a great way to teach your children how to be responsible for another living creature and learn to appreciate the work and dedication involved in caring for that pet. By including them in the care of the pet, children not only learn how to nurture it but they learn that loving another creature is much more than just playing with it on occasion. A pet depends on its people to provide food, shelter and full care.
When you adopt a dog or cat, kids may not always do the care work consistently, even with guidance or prodding, so be prepared and willing to do it, too. The ultimate responsibility is yours, but having a pet can be a good way to help a child learn how to care for and empathize with another living being and be responsible for something important. They will learn that their care matters to the pet.
Don’t get a pet just to teach your child responsibility. You should get a dog or cat because you want to love it, enjoy its company, care for it, and be a companion and family for each other. The responsibility lesson is just an added bonus.
Feeding a pet is something concrete that all children can understand. They know what it feels like to get hungry and they understand that food is the way hunger goes away. They will understand the pet needing food. Teaching them to be responsible for feeding the family pet is one of the easier lessons in pet care for them to learn.
When a dog or cat really loves its CANIDAE pet food, and gobbles it up the moment the child fills the bowl, the child will see that what they did is important. Learning responsibility and really understanding that helping the pet matters – to the pet as well as the family – will reinforce your child’s desire to want to be involved.
Children sometimes view a pet as a plaything. They may tire of it the same way they do a toy, but learning the importance of caring for a living being teaches your child the value of that animal as a real creature, not a toy. The commitment is for the life of the pet. Even a very small child can empathize and learn to understand the importance of good pet care.
Actually helping and spending time with the pet helps them understand that responsibility includes taking time each day to pay attention and give love to their dog or cat. Children need that time and attention from their parents. Your child can learn that their pet needs the same thing and they can be a source of fulfilling that need.
Helping to bathe or brush a furry pet can help to reinforce a child’s own personal care skills. If the doggy or kitty needs to have these things done, and they help do it, that helps them understand that it is a need many living creatures have, including themselves.
Although any medical pet home treatment, (wound, injury or illness), needs to be supervised by an adult, having your child with you while that treatment is taking place helps the child understand that pet care also involves attending to the kitty or doggy when it is ill or injured. It also teaches empathy. Most kids understand what feeling sick or getting an injury feels like. Sometimes responsibility involves a not-so-pleasant situation, and kids need to learn that as well.
Like children, pets require around-the-clock care at one level or another. A child can learn that having a pet means caring for it even when it is inconvenient or conflicting with something else they want to do. That lesson helps them learn that prioritizing needs and wants is an important part of responsibility. Don’t be hesitant to include them in something as simple as having to let the dog out in the middle of the night in the backyard for a potty break, or have them help change the kitty litter.
Don’t limit the help requests to older children. Even young children can begin to learn responsibility with simple tasks that they can manage or help you with. Praising their positive involvement will encourage your child to want to be more involved with the care of the pet.
Being a responsible pet owner means being a model for your children to follow to learn how to be responsible for your pet. Kids learn by example and will follow your lead. With guidance, a child can learn to be responsible for the care of a loved family dog or cat. Learning that their involvement matters in the care of your dog or cat will teach your child that responsibility is important and that they can contribute and make a difference.
“Hi, my name is Cody and I am a leaf-aholic.” At least that’s how I imagine the meeting would start, if we could get our dog to admit he has an unhealthy obsession with brightly colored piles of leaves. Okay, he even finds the brown, beaten down crispy ones fascinating.
Of course it’s unhealthy only in the sense that we, his humans, worry about what unsafe things might be under there and like to have his attention during most of the walk. Cody, like most dogs, is pretty sure it’s just super fun and important.
Eau de Rotting Stuff
Why are leaf piles so fascinating to dogs? Because of all of the glorious outdoorsy smells of decomposing vegetation, rich dirt. And other interesting scents.
Olfaction, smelling something, is the primary sense dogs use. They rely on it to interpret the world, much like people rely on sight. Dogs have more than 220 million scent receptors in their noses. In comparison, humans have only five million.
So when they smell something particularly pungent, like rotting piles of leaves, they just have to investigate.
Getting Away from the Leaves
A well-trained dog may not have any trouble passing by something interesting if they aren’t on leave to explore. They may also leave it alone on command. If you’re dealing with impulse control issues, like we are, you’ll have to work with your pet until he follows commands. Make sure you have some tasty goodies, like CANIDAE dog treats, on hand as rewards.
We never know when a sudden illness or accident will send a pet to the emergency room. Sometimes the finances just aren’t there to cover medical expenses. When that happens, there are some nonprofit organizations that may be able to help with vet care. The following organizations are ready to lend a helping hand to pet owners.
Angels4Animals is a small nonprofit made up of pet lovers who believe all pets should have equal access to vet care, even if their owner is financially challenged. Decisions on pet care should be made based on what the pet needs and not what the owner can afford. Angels4Animals has two programs: Program Guardian Angel works with the vet clinic to provide money for medical care needed for a sick or injured pet. The Lost & Found Program provides money to low income pet owners so a microchip can be inserted in the pet. This helps cut down on pets in shelters by identifying and reuniting a lost pet with their owner.
Brown Dog Foundation, Inc. provides financial assistance to people who have a sick pet with a treatable condition. Founder Carol Smock understands what it’s like to be unemployed with no funds to pay for vet care. The foundation’s mission is to provide needed help for pets with life threatening conditions or illness to help give both pet and owner a better quality of life. They understand the love of a pet goes across all income levels and no pet should be put down for a treatable condition or illness just because their owner is unable to pay the vet bill.
Computer games have become a way of life for kids and adults alike. When it comes to pet-related games, do any of them actually teach skills or instill learning that will help a kid become a responsible pet owner? My own children have enjoyed computer games that involve caring for pets and while some are silly and useless entertainment, a few can actually introduce responsible pet care to children who have never owned a pet.
Pet Vet 3D: Animal Hospital
With this game, the player becomes a veterinarian who takes care of an assorted variety of animals – from horses and ponies, to cats, dogs, bunnies and even piglets. My daughter really enjoyed this game as she learned facts about the animals “she” was treating, and it piqued her interest to learn more about these animals and their care.
There are other similar computer games that allow the player to “become” a veterinarian and provide care for furry patients. There is Paws & Claws Pet Vet, Paws & Claws Pet Vet 2, Pet Vet 3D: Wild Animal Hospital, and Happy Tails: Animal Shelter which allows you to care for animals and find them a forever home.
Owning a pet is a responsibility in more ways than one, and pet care cost will depend on whether you have a cat or dog, more than one pet, or certain breeds of dogs. The cost is not only financial, but emotional as well. It’s important to make sure you can afford to share your home with a pet because it can be costly, especially during times of economic downturns or emergency vet visits. Both are examples of unexpected circumstances that can wreck a household budget. For some, getting a pet can turn into an expense they aren’t prepared for.
Food costs will vary depending on if you’re feeding a dog, cat or multiple pets. The breed and size of a dog will make a difference on a household budget too. But just because a dog is big doesn’t necessarily mean he has a big appetite. Siberian Huskies, for example, are very thrifty eaters. I had two Huskies at the same time, and my little Terrier mixes ate more than my Huskies. When it comes to food, it’s been my experience that choosing a premium quality pet food like CANIDAE or FELIDAE is a wise investment. This is partly because the pet won’t need to eat as much food to be full and get adequate nutrition. Also, a healthier diet means a healthier pet overall.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.