In the spirit of the holiday season, I’m reposting this previous message, which is more of a personal nature. During this season, many people think about giving the gift of a pet. Unfortunately, some gifts do not meet the expectations or the wants of the person receiving it. In the case of an animal, there are no “returns or exchanges”, and an untold number of these poor creatures end up in animal shelters, or even worse predicaments. Although some people believe animals are much like any other possessions, before giving a pet, think about the needs of the animal, and give it the full respect it deserves. They are living creatures with the ability to provide a lifetime of love and companionship with few expectations of their own.
Many years ago, when my wife and I adopted our first dog, the breeder insisted on meeting with us for an interview. She wanted to ensure we met her stringent guidelines for bringing one of her “children” into our home. After meeting the puppies several times, we were finally allowed take our puppy home. Included in the package of materials we received from the breeder was a single page with the SPCA 10 Commandments. This should be required reading before anyone adopts a pet.
The SPCA 10 Commandments
- My life is likely to last 10 to 15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.
- Give me time to understand what you want of me.
- Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.
- Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.
- Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.
- Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.
- Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you, and yet, I choose not to bite you.
- Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.
- Please take care of me when I grow old. You too, will grow old.
- On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can’t.
If you decide to give someone the ultimate gift of a pet, rather than buying an animal from a pet store or breeder for Christmas morning, take your loved one to a local Animal Shelter or SPCA and pick out your new pet together. Perhaps also take this opportunity to teach them why it is important to respect all living creatures, which seems somewhat lacking in our present materialistic society.
As an example of the boundless companionship a pet provides, I’ll end this post with the last photo I have of my first dog, Sophie. After 10 wonderful years together, she developed a chronic illness and passed away. Although she was terribly ill at the time, here she sits at the cottage waiting for me with ears perked up and ready for the master to return.
“My goal in life is to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”
— Paul Dunn
Thanks for reading.