Day To Promote Responsible Dog Ownership

FOCUS ON PETS

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Responsible Dog Ownership Day, sponsored by the American Kennel Club (AKC), is tomorrow -- Saturday, Sept. 17. Events are being held around the country this month to promote the responsibilities of dog ownership.

This is the third annual Responsible Dog Ownership Day, and in preparation, a survey of dog owners and non-owners was taken to find out the major issues on each side. The results were very interesting and revealing, but not entirely surprising.
Forty-seven percent of non-owners mostly dislike dog owners who do not clean up after their dog. That is the number one complaint, and certainly a vital requirement for a responsible pet owner. Twenty-five percent complained about people who do not control their dogs -- allowing them to jump up on people. For 13 percent of the non-owners, uncontrolled barking was their major gripe. I would have thought the barking would have been much higher on the list. Only 4 percent of the non-owners fussed about the way dog owners fawn over their pooches or use baby talk.

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Cinnamon loves being part of the family, even if it means wearing a silly costume. Cinnamon is owned and loved by Mikayla Mendoza, 6. They won first place in the costume contest at the fair.

"Responsible dog ownership not only involves taking top-notch care of your pet, but also being considerate of those around you," Lisa Peterson, AKC's director of communications said.

Those who don't own dogs should not have to put up with barking, jumping and dodging dog piles. What dog owners find so adorable about their own dogs can be totally annoying to non-owners.

When asked why they did not own a dog, 22 percent said it was too much responsibility; 16 percent said it was due to a lack of time; and way down on the scale were messiness (5 percent); cost (4 percent); and allergies (3 percent).

Forty-three percent of dog owners said they were happy compared with 38 percent of non-owners. That means that the majority of people, both dog owners and others, are unhappy. That is very surprising and sad. Twenty-six percent of dog owners considered themselves laid back as compared with 17 percent of the non-owners. Non-owners said they were more organized (19 percent) compared with dog owners (14 percent).

"I'm not surprised to hear that non-owners place a high premium on order," Patterson said. "Owning a dog requires flexibility and a sense of humor when Fido chews on your shoes. The responsibility of pet ownership is well worth the rewards, but anyone considering bringing a dog home should realize that it's a 10- to 15-year commitment of time, money and love that should not be taken lightly."

What is required for responsible dog ownership? A few ideas for starters: cleaning up after them, proper vet care and keeping current with vaccinations, quality food served regularly, fresh water, adequate fencing, training and education for dog and owner, exercise, regular grooming, playtime and allowing the dog to be part of the family. All of these are simple things, but they do require a commitment of time and energy. However, the return on the investment is amazing.

The Northern Gila County Fair is over. There was new leadership, a new location, everything new. The committee did a terrific job. It is a lot of work. The fair is a wonderful place to see kids learning about and demonstrating responsible pet ownership. 4-H and FFA programs are learning opportunities. Whether it is rabbits, chickens, horses or dogs, the care and training of these animals shows in their grooming and overall health as well as their relationship with their owners.

It was wonderful to see the children and their pets taking part in the various events at the fair. Suzie Belcher was in charge of the pet costume contest and look-alike event. Helen Young did the planning for the dog show. Rosemary Chubinski from the Critter Clipper did the judging. Children and adults alike enjoyed showing off their dog's tricks and good behavior. I talked with several people who would welcome some enjoyable dog training classes. We need to work on that one.

This year's fair was great. Everyone worked very hard and for the most part, things moved smoothly. It takes a couple of years to work out all the kinks. The planning for next year has probably already begun. Let's all volunteer to help. We all need the fair.

Christy Powers 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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