Got Dog?

June 2013
I feel sorry for the people of Massechusetts. The American Veterinary Medical Association recently released their findings on pet ownership in the United States. Massechusetts came in dead last. Not to suggest that Massechusetts doesn’t love their pets any less than any of us here in Vermont, but this statistic struck me considering the number of dogs and cats without homes in New England alone.

The first thought that came to mind while reading the US Pet Ownership and Demographics study online was the number of older pets, like Buddy, who for one reason or another are separated from the one they loved most. Today, right now, so many are living out their time lonely and broken-hearted in temporary foster care or shelters. I only wish more people, specifically the residents of Massechusetts, had a clearer concept of what a difference a shelter pet could make in their lives – even the old less-active ones with medical needs. But giving them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they do have an idea of what they’re missing out on. For many, our particular circumstances prevent us from pet ownership. Aside from most landlords who prohibit pets, most nursing and assisted living homes understandably have legitimate restrictions. It’s sad how many traveling professions, those with extreme allergies and those too old to care for themselves (let alone their pets) are without the companionship and enrichment pets provide, even if such reasons are justified. But still, most pet owners might agree that until you have loved an animal, a large part of your heart remains unused and dormant.

Margaret Meade said, “One of the oldest human needs is having someone wonder where you are when you don’t come home at night”. Margaret Meade is right. It doesn’t matter if it’s a horse, fish, hamster, rat, lizard or bunny. The purpose and enrichment they give us is incalculable. Dogs and cats will stand by screened doors and sit by windows for hours unend, waiting for the arrival of their owners. I recall Buddy in his much younger days ignoring his new plush cozy bed and preferring the cold hard floor by the front door instead. After all, it was a guarantee that he would know when I came home, even if he was asleep. If only more of us humans demonstrated this natural and instinctual behavior for the ones we love. I believe that dogs can teach us things about ourselves that our human relations can’t; about being a better person, more committed and dedicated to those we claim we love. It’s true, dogs do set the strongest examples of how to live a treat others. Massechusetts take note.

Mankind would certainly be lost without dogs. They provide therapy for the sick, speak to those who can’t hear, hear those who can’t speak and calm those with post-traumatic stress disorder. They can tell when we’re about to seize and brace themselves against us to calm and even shorten spasms. They can alert diabetics when their blood sugar is dangerously low. For those with Tourette’s syndrome, Asperger’s and autism there is nothing better than having a dog at your side. The most sophisticated technology and smartest humans on earth couldn’t possibly sense the things dogs can. Ask any K-9 police officer. I’d be willing to wager they’ve relied on far more than their nose to sniff out drugs. They entrust their lives on so many levels, much like soldiers in combat still today.Massechusetts, take note.

Studies on dogs show that dog owners have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels; they’re more physically active and can even survive heart attacks better than our non-dog-owning counterparts. Keep that in mind, Massechusetts, the next time your child begs you to bring home that puppy from the pound.

There’s good reason why Americans spent $61.4 billion on their pets just last year alone. Without them, we are incomplete. Fifteen years ago, I paid $75 for Buddy. Today, I’d pay $75 million for the same dog if I could afford it, even with the lumps, bumps, bad breath and eye goop. Massechusetts, take note.

Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog the world will change forever. Massechusetts, take note

By the way, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association the highest number of both dogs and cats in the United States is our Green Mountain State of Verrmont. Cape Cod may have beautiful beaches, but put some more dogs on them.



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