Animal Advocate: What A Dog Really Needs

Jennifer Clarke
By Jennifer Clarke March 15, 2012 12:00

Jennifer Clarke“Woof-woof-woof, woof-woof-woof, woof-woof-woof.”  The incessant barking of a lonely dog can go on for hours. Dogs are intelligent, social creatures. To be left isolated with no stimulation or company goes against their very nature.

Dogs evolved as active partners with man. They hunted, herded, protected and offered companionship. Dogs had jobs, got exercise and had personal interaction. Even those kept as pets usually had one or more family members at home to be their pack.

By necessity or choice, our lifestyles have become less conducive to dog ownership. Far fewer families live on farms or ranches. More families have both parents working. Children spend more time at school and participate in extracurricular activities. Computers and cell phones absorb free time that was once spent outdoors playing with the family pet or going for long walks.

It is heartbreaking for Animal Control to respond to complaints and find dogs that exist in isolation. Dogs confined in pens or on runners for long hours with no attention or stimulation. Dogs with behavioral problems because they don’t exercise and may have no outlet for their energy.

Some dogs are hit by cars or shot for chasing livestock because they are too bored and lonely to stay at their empty homes. Just because the dog is there when you leave in the morning and there when you return in the evening does not mean that it did not wander during the day.

Getting a dog should be a well-thought-out decision. Research different breeds to find the right one for your situation. Realistically evaluate the expense and time you can devote to a dog. It is always disappointing when some rescue groups or shelters push pets on people. In some cases they seem more concerned with adoption numbers than the animals’ needs. If the dog or cat is not going to a suitable home, then an injustice has been done.

A dog can be such a wonderful addition to life. For those who have the time to provide love, companionship, exercise and care, please give a shelter dog a second chance. Many of these dogs have never experienced a truly good home.

A home where the dog is miserable is no home at all. Unless you have the time to provide for the emotional as well as physical needs of a dog, please do not get one. They are not decorations or accessories. They are sentient beings capable of giving and receiving love, and need to be cared for accordingly.

Clarke is the manager of Tuolumne County Animal Control (694-2730).

© 2012 Friends and Neighbors Magazine

Jennifer Clarke
By Jennifer Clarke March 15, 2012 12:00