Thursday, January 12, 2012

Becoming a Responsible Dog Owner

We promised after our post Saturday, "People with dogs that kill people, kill people", we'd devote this week to sharing about being a responsible dog owner and bite prevention.  We're jumping into it a bit later in the week than we'd initially planned - so let's get right to it!

A responsible dog owner is much more than someone who feeds and shelters an animal.  A responsible dog owner is someone who has done their homework and chosen to commit their life to a pet owner long before ever acquiring an animal.  A responsible dog owner does not get a dog on a whim.  A responsible dog owner realizes that depending on the animals age when they bring it home, this is a commitment that could last up to fifteen years or more.

Becoming a responsible owner begins long before you ever bring your pet home.

A responsible dog owner knows about the breed they have chosen before ever beginning their search for the perfect dog.  This is a lesson that is personal to mom, as she had to learn it the hard way.

In her early adulthood, mom purchased a pair of huskies - red, Siara and white with bi-eyes, Cool Whip.  She knew little more about the dog's breed than that they were quite possibly the most beautiful breed of dog around (second only to Golden's, of course *wink*), and that they served as sled dogs.  It took an unplanned pregnancy when the dog literally escaped through a wire crate to learn that huskies are escape artists.  And it took the mauling/killing of a litter of foster puppies to realize that huskies have very high prey drives.  Ultimately it took one suffering a heat stroke in our Mississippi backyard to learn that huskies do not always acclimate well to our Southern climate.  (Yes, the dog was provided water and shelter.)  After this series of events, our pawrents realized as much as they loved this beautiful breed, Siberian huskies were not suited for their lifestyle.  They were very blessed to be able to place Siara in the home of a lady who had just lost her husky of seventeen years and was well acquainted with all of their mischievous ways.  However, because of their naivety, Cool Whip lost his life.

(Before you lose all respect for my mom person, please understand that where she started as a pet owner has brought her to where she is now.  And if even one dog's life can be spared because of her honesty, she's willing to lose a bit of respect.)  

This brings us back to the "Bully breeds" that was the topic of Saturday's post.  It is an ignorant person who chooses one of these dogs without knowing their full capabilities.  It is an irresponsible person who allows such a dog to run loose - especially after it has demonstrated their desire to kill.  And again, this is not meant against the breed, but the owner.  Being responsible for this animal means containing them at all times.  If you cannot do that, you should not have one.

The decision to rehome Siara was a hard one for my family as they loved her very much, but to redeem the irresponsibility of owning a dog that they knew little about, it was the right thing to do.  Siara is still a much loved member of her second family.  Her story had a happy ending, but most similar do not.

Of an average litter of six puppies, only two will go into their furr-ever home straight from the breeder's.  Two will be swapped around multiple times during their life.  Two will end up in a shelter and depending on the shelter's policy, will possibly be euthanized.

Have you done your homework regarding the breeds you own or are interested in?  If so, congratulations!  You are well on your way to becoming a responsible dog owner.  If not, please educate yourself.. for the dog's sake and your own.

Tomorrow we will focus on ways to be a responsible owner after your dog has come to your home.



  1. Hi there, Great post and important lesson. WE were once given a puppy and were told it was a Samoiyan but it was actually an Akita. The trainers and behaviorists told me that we shouldn't keep him because he was a working dog and dominant-not meant for a family. After struggling with him for 9 mos we had to replace him. It was so hard but we know that it was better for all of us-we were all so stressed with him. I've never had a pure bred pup but always try my best to know the possible breeds so I know what to expect.
    Thanks for sharing your mom's lesson.
    Hugs, Noreen & Reggie

  2. Huskies are not for everyone. That is why so many of us have humans who tell people who meet us all about our bad habits first. We are not good with small animals, we do love to run if let free, we shed a lot, really a lot!!! But with the right training and with people who understand the breed, we are a very loving and obedient breed. We admire your mom for recognizing that Siara needed a different home and we are sad for Cool Whip, but it really was not intentional.

    We do have to add that we are very good with little children, once again because we have owners who work with both us and the kids to be sure everyone behaves well.

    Great post.

    Woos - Phantom, Thunder, Ciara, and Lightning

  3. Boy did I realize how different Dachsie are when I got Ruthie....

  4. I think we also need to change the views/roles of the breeder - even if it was an "oops" litter. Have they thoroughly questioned perspective owners, given them the pros and cons of owning this breed (or breeds if it is mixed), cost of owning one, the list goes on and on.


  5. I really appreciate this post. I recently had a friend who got a bunny rabbit as a pet to guide her through her period of being depressed... there's nothing wrong with that, and although I doubted her ability to take care of it, I kept my mouth shut. She got the rabbit and kept it... it made her happy from time to time, but mostly, it just bothered her. It would poop outside of its cage, she'd have to bring it around from college back home, and her roommates didn't like the way it smelled... so, she decided to get rid of it before even having it for a year. I was just flabbergasted. A pet is like a child! How can someone just get rid of it like that...? After they committed to taking it on for life? These are things that some people don't think about, and luckily for the rabbit, she found it a good home with people who could really appreciate it. I think you are right to point out the stuff you did though, and hopefully people like my friend can learn from all of your wisdom. Best wishes.


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  6. This is a great post. Chessies are another breed that is not right for everyone. I appreciate when breeders really question potential puppy buyers about what they know about the breed and what they expect from the puppy.