Be A Responsible Dog Owner Every Day

FOCUS ON PETS

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Sept. 17 was Responsible Dog Ownership Day. Many activities were held throughout the United States promoting this message. Unfortunately, because of many other important events, I missed it. However, responsible pet ownership is something near and dear to my heart and therefore I will not let it pass unnoticed. It should be celebrated and observed every day of the year.

The American Kennel Club sponsors this annual event, but you do not need to have a purebred dog to be a responsible pet owner. Dog owners are encouraged to take the following pledge:

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Kelsea Arendell proudly shows off the first place ribbon won by her dog, Nunzio, in the costume event at the "I Love My Dog" show, sponsored by the Soroptimists of Payson. Nunzio, an Italian greyhound, is named after a favorite Italian uncle.

"As a dog owner, I promise I will never overlook my responsibilities for this living being and recognize that my dog's welfare is totally dependent on me. I will always provide fresh water and quality food for my dog. I will socialize my dog via exposure to new people, places and other dogs. I will take pride in my dog's appearance with regular grooming. I will recognize the necessity of basic training by teaching my dog to reliably sit, stay and come when called. I will take my dog to the vet regularly and keep all vaccinations current. I will pick up and properly dispose of my dog's waste. I will make sure my dog is regarded as an AKC Canine Good Citizen by being aware of my responsibilities to my neighbors and to the community. I will ensure that the proper amount of exercise and mental stimulation appropriate for my dog's age, breed and energy level is provided. I will make certain that my dog is identified with both a collar tag and a microchip and I will adhere to local leash laws."

If you would like to officially sign this Pet Promise, visit http://www.gopetition.com/online/9290.html.

The Canine Good Citizen test will be given at Dog Day in the Park at the Payson off-leash dog park on Saturday, Oct. 21. The test covers the basics. Many insurance companies take this test as evidence that your dog is a good neighbor.

The top 10 most popular dogs in the U.S., according to AKC registrations, are from 1 to 10: Labrador retriever, golden retriever, Yorkshire terrier, German shepherd dog, beagle, dachshund, boxer, poodle, Shih Tzu and miniature schnauzer. There is a growing trend toward smaller dogs.

Some interesting survey facts from AKC: If forced to evacuate their homes, 62 percent polled would likely defy the authorities and stay with their animals; 97 percent would take their pets with them in case of an evacuation; 61 percent have a pet evacuation plan; 23 percent were prompted to design an emergency plan including their pets after Hurricane Katrina.

These significant statistics come from non-dog owners, helping us realize the importance of responsible pet ownership: Forty-nine percent of non-dog owners cited a lack of picking up after their dogs as the number one complaint with dog owners; 25 percent of non-dog owners complained about owners "not controlling their dog or letting the dog jump on you"; for 13 percent of the respondents, (I am surprised this number is not higher) allowing a dog to bark incessantly was their number one grievance; 22 percent of not dog owners said too much responsibility was the reason they didn't own a dog, followed by a lack of time at 16 percent. Owners of one dog were more likely to describe themselves as "happy" as opposed to non-dog owners and dog owners were more likely to call themselves "laidback" than those without pups, (26 percent vs. 17 percent).

Another interesting statistic: Purebred dog fanciers spend more than $330 million annually at dog shows, which are held throughout the U.S. and the world year-round.

You may think these serious dog people are somewhat strange, but they diligently work to improve their breed and dog shows are their testing ground. You will not see puppy mill dogs competing at these shows. AKC papers do not guarantee a good, healthy dog. Never buy a dog at a pet store. If you want a purebred dog, buy from a reputable breeder.

Dog Day in the Park

Dog Day in the Park is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Payson Off-Leash Dog Park on Saturday, Oct. 21. Plan to attend with your dog, on leash, and show off the cutest trick, the greatest voice, a wonderful costume and more. Also try your luck at musical chairs, rally and the most fun costume race. Meet our drug and bomb detection dogs and visit an assortment of vendors. Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dog International Testing will be available as well as Payson and Gila County dog licenses. Come for a full day of fun and games.

On Nov. 3, 4 and 5, there will be an amazing dog event at Westworld in Scottsdale. Every imaginable dog sport will be represented. If you can, take in this new world of dog sports and dog fun. There will be wonderful vendors with every kind of dog toy, food, bed, treat and equipment. Don't miss it.

-- Christy Powers can be reached by e-mail at cpwrather@earthlink.net or at HC1 Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.

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