With the New Year comes the opportunity for making, and hopefully keeping, New Year's resolutions. Resolutions can be rather threatening if we allow them to have an iron hold on us. But if we make them with the idea of trying harder to attain our goals, it is time well spent.
Since this is a pet column, it seemed appropriate to have a list of suggested resolutions for pet owners. Here goes:
- Read a dog or cat book. Whether it would be one to help with a problem you are having with your pet, or simply a book that will help you better understand the nature of your dog or cat, the Payson library has a pretty good selection. You also can get lots of wonderful and helpful information off the Internet.
- Sign up for an obedience class. There are a few offered in Payson. It is a good idea to observe the class once before enrolling to make sure you are comfortable with the teacher and the methods used. If you are not comfortable with what the teacher is doing, do not join the class. If you sign up and are attending the classes and you are uncomfortable, quit. Some training methods are harsh and not suitable for our dogs and us. If you do quit, make sure that the teacher knows your reasons. Besides obedience classes, there are also organized activities that you can do with your dog. The opportunities are rather limited in Payson but if there is enough interest, more would be available.
- Make arrangements for your dog to play with other dogs. The Payson Off-Leash Dog Park provides a safe environment and there are most always other dogs there to play with. If the dog park is not convenient, invite other dogs over or arrange to meet with others so the dogs can play together. Dogs need the companionship of other dogs.
- Commit to a daily walk. It only takes a few minutes and it is good for both you and your dog. Once it becomes a habit, you will really enjoy it and your dog will love you for it. If a walk is not possible, take him for a ride in the car, even if you only go as far as the post office. The walk is healthier, but a car ride is pure utopia for most dogs. Some cats even like a car ride.
- Make mealtime special. Pick either breakfast or dinner and let the pets gather around as you make a big deal out of preparing the meal. When it is cold, make some oatmeal or give them some hot soup. Table scraps are not good. But what is good for you is usually pretty good for them as well. Vegetables are a safe bet.
A little canned food along with the dry is a treat. If it is cold, heat it a little in the microwave.
Look at what you are feeding your dog and make sure that it is quality food. Not all dog food is good dog food. Read the label. Talk with your vet. The difference in price between terrible dog food and reasonably good dog food is not great, especially when you consider that the better the quality of the food, the less you have to feed -- and the less that ends up in the back yard.
Saving the most important resolutions for last:
- Spay or neuter your dogs and cats. They will live longer, healthier and happier lives and will be much better pets. They will be less likely to wander and much less likely to get hit by a car. But also, you will be doing your part to reduce the terrible pet overpopulation problem. Leave the breeding to the breeders. It is their responsibility to improve the breed and reduce health problems.
- Make sure your cats and dogs are current on all shots. It is essential that all puppies receive their set of three puppy shots early. Rabies is most important in this part of the country. A yearly visit to the veterinarian will insure that all shots are current.
- Finally, resolve to enjoy your pet. This means spending time with him, talking with him, walking with him, just petting him. Sit on the floor with him for a little while as you watch the news or a movie. You will both enjoy it.
Happy New Year to all. May it be a special year for you, your family and your pet. The more time you spend with your pet, the more you will realize and appreciate the qualities that make him wonderful.
Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com; or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.