Obviously, your dog loves you.
He dances with delight when you walk in the door and showers you with adoring looks and exuberant licks. You know without a doubt that he’ll always be there for you, “for better or worse, ‘til death do you part.”
After all, you’re the constant center of your dog’s universe, his trusted source of food, shelter, guidance, and companionship. In a sense, you are his universe.
How can you ever repay such wholehearted and absolute love?
Well, beyond providing food and shelter, you can take Rover out for lots of playful walks; scratch him behind the ears with great feeling; give him regular hugs and baths and biscuits; and let him lie on your feet while you watch TV. You can see to his health and well-being with regular vet check-ups and by evicting any fleas that take up residence in his fur.
But this basic TLC is just the start. Seeing to the welfare of dogs – the entire species, not just the family pet – is a life-long labor of love.
Here are some simple ways to go about it.
- Get yourself trained
Dog training classes don’t just make Rex a better dog; they make you a better dog guardian. What you learn from a skilled trainer will turn you into a cooperative team, and that means less frustration and more fun for all concerned.
- Move your mutt
A slim and fit dog is a happy and healthy dog. You can do yourself and your furry friend a big favor by getting off the couch and onto the trails on a regular basis. Regular exercise might one day save you a bundle on vet bills and him a lot of pain and suffering.
- Adopt a canine sr. citizen
Some older dogs have it pretty rough. Their humans drop them off at shelters when they get ill or disabled, or maybe because the first baby has arrived. Puppies have a much easier time getting adopted, so senior dogs need a helping hand. Can you make room in your heart and home for one?
- Report abuse
That Rottweiler that barks all day and all night in your neighbor’s yard isn’t just an annoyance – he’s a neglected dog. Your county animal services department needs to know when dogs are tied out for long periods so they can intervene. Maybe that dog still has a shot at the good life.
- Lend a Hand
There are so many ways to be of service, from walking shelter dogs (see page 16 for one volunteer’s story), to helping out at mobile adoption events, to planning a fundraiser for a local rescue group. Even a few hours a week can make a big difference to the dogs of your community, and it will make you feel great, too.
- Lobby lawmakers
Pay attention to what your elected representatives are up to, and be sure to weigh in on issues related to dogs. One recent law made it easier for disaster victims and their pets to stay together; another made it a crime to leave a dog in a car all day. Such laws would never have been passed without a show of support from the animal-loving public. Make your voice heard.
- Join (or start) a play group
Your dog loves you, but he loves other dogs almost as much. There are play groups organized by breed, age and/or size of dog, neighborhood, and lots of other categories. Find or start a suitable “pack” and give your furry friend some great new playmates.
- Foster a homeless dog
All those dogs at the shelter that don’t get adopted are destined to be euthanized, unless foster parents are available to take them in on a temporary basis. Fostering a dog is a wonderful way to get acquainted with a potential new family member, or to keep a good dog safe until a permanent home can be found.
- Keep Spot safe
Even vigilant dog guardians have been known to lose their pets. It’s a terrifying experience for both human and canine, so be sure to license and tag your dog, and consider microchipping. It’s a cheap and easy ounce of prevention that can save you both a lot of grief.
- Open your wallet
Last but not least, spread your love around by supporting local animal non-profits as generously as you can. They’re on the frontlines of making life better for all dogs in your community. Your money can’t make animal welfare problems go away, but it sure can help to solve them.