Marking 104 Weeks Of Columns

FOCUS ON PETS

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I have just completed two full years, 104 weeks, of writing this column for the Payson Roundup. The very first Focus on Pets appeared Nov. 5, 2002. It is my hope that I have answered some questions and addressed some issues that have helped a few pet owners and some dogs and cats.

When I began this column, many asked how I would ever be able to think of enough topics to write a weekly column. I wondered about that also so I made a list -- I just wrote down everything relating to dogs and cats that I could think of. There were close to 52 items. I knew I was safe. That hand written list is still in my file. Potential topics come to me from what I read, hear, and see. There is no end.

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The Focus on Pets team of consultants, from left, Megan, Gibson and Higgins, take a break between columns.

Since this is my anniversary column, I am submitting a photo of my three black dogs. They are always here with me as I write, and they constantly contribute column ideas. Higgins is my standard poodle whose photo is in every column with me. Megan is a rescue who came into my life right after I acquired Higgins. She was one of those neglected dogs who lived chained to a stake with no shelter through the cold winter, and no human contact. I immediately took her to get her spayed and Dr. Lorenzo Gonzales said "Congratulations, you are going to be a grandma." In a few short weeks, she gave birth to eight adorable puppies, and Gibson is one of those puppies. He is now three and seems to want to stay here with his mom, Higgins, and me. All three are neutered.

Black dogs seem to be drawn to the Black Dog Ranch. A few weeks ago, I brought in a stray, a black lab mix. She now has a wonderful new home in Flagstaff with a family of four children and a stay at home mom. She is one lucky girl. And this week I have a foster dog -- wouldn't you know -- she is black.Occasionally, a non-black dog does get admitted to the group on a temporary basis.

The Payson Roundup would be happier with fewer black dogs. They are not the best photography subjects. It is what I have however, and I love them all.

On the subject of abandoned dogs, the Payson Humane Society is having its Eighth Annual Chili Supper from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9 at the Payson Elks Lodge. (Do you think we will know who is president by then? Probably not.) here will be chili, macaroni and cheese, salad, rolls, cupcakes, and beverages -- all for only $7 for adults and $4 for children. This event is fun with a silent auction, pot-luck sale, a 50-50 raffle, and music. All proceeds are used for the care of homeless animals at the shelter.

If you want to see world champion dogs compete in dog sports, head to West World in Scottsdale Nov. 11 through Nov. 14. The Grand Prix of Dog Agility World Championship and the Dual in the Desert Fly Ball Championship head the lineup. Our home town team, the Geens and their dogs, are among the tops in flyball. You will also see the Flying Disk Dog Open Western Regional Championship and the Dock Dog Big Air Challenge. Terriers will do tracking and racing. There is an admission charge, $5 on Thursday and Friday, and $10 on Saturday and Sunday, and a $5 parking charge, but the days will be filled with dog sports of every persuasion. This is a tremendous opportunity to see dogs in action, doing what they love to do. West World is north on 101 between Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard and Bell Road. For more information and schedules, go online to United States Dog Agility Association -- World Cynosport Games.

I just received a check in the mail from Mary Leyba along with a very nice letter. She wants to contribute to the spay and neuter fund. Her check will be used to open an account at the bank. I hope the account will grow. If you know of any dog or cat that could be neutered if the money were available, please contact me. We will find a way to get it done.

Mary also urges folks to have identification on their pets. So many animals could be returned with a simple ID tag or microchip. That will be a future column.

I have two ultimate goals in writing this column. One is to encourage everyone to spay and neuter their dogs and cats. Leave the breeding to the professional breeders who work constantly to improve their breeds. There are enough dogs and cats for everyone who wants one for years to come without any more litters being born. When we can stop euthanizing dogs and cats because there are no homes for them and no room at the shelters, we can begin talking about some selective breeding. That will be a happy day.

My second goal is to free every chained dog and bring all back yard dogs into the home and family. The pain that dogs living alone suffer is unbelievable. They are social animals and belong in a family. When we bring them into the family, we learn of their intelligence, their eagerness to please, and all the wonderful things they contribute to our lives. With training, dogs learn how to be a part of the family. And with training, we quickly learn about the wonderful mind and heart of our dogs.

Thank you for your support these past two years. I appreciate all of you who read the column and I am most grateful to those who take the time to email or write to me. Your words are appreciated. I have truly enjoyed writing this column.

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