Thursday, April 16, 2009

Learn a lesson from 101 Dalmations

Remember back in 1996 when the movie 101 Dalmations came out?
So many families rushed out to get their children a Dalmation, not knowing or caring much about what the breed was like. The dogs entered homes that were not prepared to give it proper daily exercise, which is badly needed to keep this athlete of a dog out of trouble.
The same thing has happened to border collies and huskies, two breeds that thrive even less well in the normal family setting than Dalmations.
These two breeds are bred to work, and both are extremely intelligent. Think about it: a border collie can work all day on the farm, happy to herd cattle from dawn to dusk. And huskies can run for miles and miles, hour after hour, on the frozen tundra, pulling dog sleds.
Who in their right mind would think these dogs would be happy to lay around in the living room all day?
These dogs need jobs, a mental and physical workout, or else their energy and intelligence will be funneled into trouble-making and obsessive behaviors.
It’s not something that busy families in suburbia with working parents and little children and small yards can always provide. So the dogs develop bad behaviors and before long, are dumped at the dog pound.
Now the Obama’s have brought home a Portuguese Water Dog, and no doubt, the nation’s attention has been drawn to this uncommon working breed.
I’m sure the President's dog will have its needs met, but I worry about the nation’s reaction.
“I heard they don’t shed, and they’re nonallergenic,” a wife will say to her husband. “Maybe we should get one for little Susie.”
In a matter of a year or so, I foresee news reports telling of how our country’s shelters are being overwhelmed with Portuguese Water Dogs.
Not that the breed isn’t a good one. I’m sure it is.
But just like Dalmations and Border Collies and Huskies and pit bulls too, the dogs require more from their owners than just a food bowl and fenced in yard.
Check this Saturday’s pet section to see a profile of the breed. I’ll include information that will help you determine if the breed is a good match for your household.
I’ll also post the blog online Monday.

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