Ever asked yourself who you are for your dog? Someone sent me a mail with some cute sayings about animals and stuff and that got me thinking about that question...
Without getting into too much anthropomorphism and attributing human characteristics and feelings to animals, I am sure that, to our pets we mean a lot...practically their sole landmark in life right?
So who are you really in a dogs world? The pack leader? Then again what is a pack leader? The provider of food? The one to look up to in times of hardship and confusion? The one who is supposed to look after the rest of the pack and cater for their needs?
To your dog, you mean the whole world...and yet how many of us consider a dog as a mere object; that we can choose to give attention or neglect according to our whims and fancies; how many of us have punished dogs and even tortured them pretending to "teach them a lesson"...how many dump animals on the streets because the dog no longer "serves any purpose" in their lives?
The word "owner" itself reflects the object status of dogs in our lives...and yet we bond with this animal strongly.Man shares a long part of its history with dogs...Who was using who? Was the dog sticking with the early humans just to get easy food from the human hunting kills? Were the humans using the dog for hunting? I guess it was a 50:50 partnership in mutual respect.
So what do dogs expect from us humans? Certainly not being treated as a "possession" !They need to feel they belong; to be part of the pack; to have a fair and protective leader.
After you've read this; ask yourself if you are that individual for your dog. You are the focal point of his life...I mean, you are supposed to be...and if you are not, then do not be surprised if your dog strays away from you; if he snarls and attempts to bite you. As it is, you are RESPONSIBLE for your dog so act accordingly.
A dog is NOT a "property"; it is not an object of luxury you must parade with to impress others; it is not a weapon you must use to aggress others;it is not a circus performer you should teach tricks and enroll in contests and shows; it is not a burglar deterrent...it is supposed to be a member of your pack. Does your dog feel he/she belongs? Feeding, providing shelter IS NOT ENOUGH! The animal must feel you and your family as members of his group.
In the 17 years I've been a vet, I have seen so many dogs being brought to me as you would bring your car for repairs. "Fix it so that I can continue to use it". This attitude is slowly changing but...too slowly to my liking!
To all you vets and wannabe vets out there...your role as professionals is also to make the change happen. I have noticed that if you show to the owner that his animal has a place in the family, needs to be interacted with...and that it is not an object; the animal takes another value in his eyes. The Veterinarian Oath says that we must alleviate suffering of animals under our custody by all means. Fixing pathologies is NOT enough...Your purpose is to make the animal's life better...not to be confused with becoming rich on his misfortunes!
And to all owners out there..."You are responsible for what you have tamed"(A.de St Exupery in Le Petit Prince)and always ask yourself what would a pack leader do before attempting anything with your dog. Do not come tell the world that you love your dog and then walk him on a choke collar (with spikes on the inside); ask yourself if your dog deserves to be mutilated by cutting his ears and tail to fit into some stupid breed standard. Its never too late to be aware of your role in that animal's life. If you choose a dog it should be because you want him in your family...any other reason is just WRONG.
Ok People...your dog thinks you are fair, caring and compassionate...are you up to the challenge?