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February 2021

It’s okay if you don’t have a dog 🐶

Do you find yourself looking with envy at the people in your neighborhood playing with their dogs? Have you spent way too much time obsessing over dog accounts on Instagram and Twitter? Before you give in to the impulse to get a puppy, let's talk about why you might want to stop and reconsider.

Image from grouchypuppy.com

Why do you want a dog?

Be honest. Look around your home, look at your daily schedule, and look at your finances. Do you have space for a dog? Do you have the time to give a dog? Are you able to provide them with the attention they need to be a happy and well-adjusted member of your family? Have you been to a pet store or looked online at the cost of food, toys, bedding, and all the basic stuff a dog needs? How about the cost of veterinary care? Are you prepared for regular check-ups as well as possible emergencies? Do you live in a place where the noise and activity of a dog will fit in, even welcomed?

It's essential to look around and ask yourself these questions before you bring a dog into your home and life. Being honest with yourself will save you both the heartache of unrealistic expectations. The potential stress, upset, and even trauma, of making this leap without being honest with yourself happens.

Don't feel bad if you realize it's not a good idea to have a dog.

Over the past few years, I have discovered is that it's not so bad enjoying the company of dogs that don't belong to me.

I love dogs very much and will always want to have them around, but I am realistic about the difference between enjoying them and being responsible for one. I started engaging more with the dogs I meet in my neighborhood. Now I am willing to wait longer before I adopt another dog. I feel good each time a dog shares some time and playfulness with me. I take home a little fluff, often some slobber, always a dose of oxytocin. How can I complain?

With the pandemic causing many people to get a dog, I have had more conversations with puppy parents. We can all use words of encouragement! Whenever possible, I offer support to both puppy and parent when we cross paths. They are always grateful, and I enjoy seeing their expressions of pride.

As we enter spring, enjoy the sun and outdoors. Wave to your neighbors and say hello to ALL the dogs! Remember that it is okay that you didn't adopt a dog. 

Tell me, have you had this conversation with yourself, or your family? How do you find ways to enjoy dogs?

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Please Don’t Tell Cooper He’s a Dog 🐶 Illustrated Picture Book

In San Francisco, people interested in adopting and fostering the older dogs at Muttville Senior Dog Rescue stayed steady throughout 2020. According to the group Shelter Animals Count, which tracks hundreds of rescue organizations nationwide, there was an increase in recorded pet adoptions across the country of about 15% last year.

It has been a year since our world changed due to a global pandemic. With people working from home, and school closures, some families have decided it was an excellent time to get a dog. I can't tell you how many puppies I encounter on my weekly neighborhood walks! I see them learning how to behave as they explore their new surroundings. I also watch how their new parents navigate having a puppy on their hands in the middle of a busy city.

A few weeks ago, I received a new children's picture book to review. Given the title character Cooper looked to be a Bernese Mountain Dog and that I see them frequently trotting down the street or playing at the park, I had to say yes. These giant fluffy creatures are popular city dogs!

image from grouchypuppy.com

I asked the author, Michelle Lander Feinberg why she decided now to write this picture book, Please Don’t Tell Cooper He’s a Dog:

I’m a huge animal lover, and wanted to write the book to show how a rescue dog can become such an important member of the family if treated with love and respect. I was inspired to write the story as we used to joke that our old dog, Charlie, never thought he was a dog. (When we got him a dog bed he got so excited as if he thought we were finally getting a dog…) 
 
As someone who believes strongly in the positive influence of the dog human bond, I liked how this book gives little ones a chance to learn about dogs, and how to treat them. 
 
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This book is geared towards children ages 2-8 and their families. If you are looking for activities, the author has heard that some teachers:
 
- have explained the difference between reality and fantasy, and asked the children to think of what Cooper the dog does that would be real vs. fantastic
 
- have the children come up with ideas of how to raise money for animal shelters (bake sales, making masks or jewelry to sell, etc)
 
- have the children draw a picture of Cooper doing something human-like 
 
- have the children talk about the different ways they treat their dogs (or cats) well, how they help them at home.
 
Every family has their own techniques but being proactive is always a good idea when it comes to dogs and kids.
 
Have you adopted a dog or a puppy recently? Did you have a dog when you were little? How did you learn how to be around dogs? I would love to read your stories in the comments.

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