A New Pet Needs Commitment

FOCUS ON PETS

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Nicky is one lucky little girl. She was picked up as a stray and brought to the Payson Humane Society at the tender age of four months. An eye wound required surgery and she needed to be spayed, so she was not available for adoption for several weeks.

In comes Dick Kindig. He lost his beloved dog last year. This spring, he made the decision that he was ready for another dog. He was looking for an adult female; an Australian shepherd would have been his choice. He began stopping by the Payson Humane Society. On one visit, he met Nicky. Though she was not quite ready to go to a new home, she and Dick connected.

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Dick Kindig and young Nicky are forming a strong bond because of the commitment Kindig made when adopting the lively little girl from the Payson Humane Society.

Nicky is a picture-perfect Border collie and Dick was warned that she is very active. But she is loving and very smart. Dick lives alone in Strawberry on a large piece of property, an ideal setting for an energetic dog. However, Dick has chickens.

Adopting a dog from the humane society comes with its ups and downs, just like any other pet adoption or even bringing a new baby into the household. The transition is not always easy, but if a foundation of love and respect is developed, the journey is smoother and full of amazing rewards.

Too often we adopt a new pet and things are wonderful at first. Then the dog does something we think is not OK, like having an accident in the house. He cries during the night and our nerves are shot. Our pleasant expectations are reduced to rubble and then we get on the defensive. Suddenly this dog cannot do anything right and we are looking for reasons to return him to the humane society or worse, putting him out in the back yard or tying him where his chances of becoming part of the family are nil.

What is the best way to introduce a new pet into the household? First, some real planning and studying are necessary. Do we really want a new pet? Are we ready? Are we willing to make that long-term commitment? What is our lifestyle and what kind of dog would best fit into our home? These questions need to be addressed. When the time is right, it will feel right.

Even when we have done our homework and decide to adopt a particular pet, and the love and commitment are there, the match might not be just right. Through no fault of either the dog or the adoptive family, it is not working. Would this dog be better off in another home? Do the dog's needs not fit with this household?

Dick brought this pup home and the bonding began. She loves being rubbed and patted and talked to and Dick was eager for this commitment and friendship. Nicky is full of energy. She never stops. Dick takes her for a two- to three-mile walk each morning and when they are about home, she is finally settling down. She wants to go after every bird, squirrel, even butterflies. But she is a baby. Dick has the patience of a saint and he loves this little girl.

Nicky does provide challenges. She is eager to please except for her three problem areas: herding the chickens through the fence, running the fence as cars go by and getting into Dick's precious garden and eating the corn silk. He is patiently working with her and she is responding. But the chickens are a temptation and being born to herd, plaguing these chickens is as natural to her as walking.

Dick is determined to make this adoption work. He loves Nicky and did make the commitment to provide a home for her for her lifetime. He is aware that he is not as young as he was with previous puppies and he has some health issues. He realizes that it might have been better if he had stayed with his original plan for adopting an adult dog. He is optimistic that the problems can be worked out while he looks forward to a little maturity on her part. n the meantime, he loves her company and loves having a dog to share his morning walks.

Please note: There have been reports about dogs being left in cars with the air conditioning running. The car overheats and the air conditioner shuts off leaving hot air blowing into the car. Several dogs have died. The survivors faced a long and expensive recovery. Although it's tough, it might be best to leave the dog at home when it is too warm for them to be safely left with the car windows open.

By the way, there is a most amazing dog looking for a home. She is loving, devoted and very smart, but she needs space to run. Call (928) 476-2239 for information.

Christy Wrather is a columnist for the Payson Roundup. She can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or by snail mail at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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