An article in a recent USA Weekend, titled "What Your Pet Says About You" by Steve Dale, includes a quiz to help you find the right pet for your family and your lifestyle. The questions ask about your time at home, your family schedule, your tolerance, travel preferences, sense of humor and sleeping habits.
If everyone would spend some time reflecting on these questions, there would be far fewer dogs turned in to humane societies. Way too many people choose a dog based solely on what he looks like.
Dale, columnist and fellow member of Dog Writer's Association of America (DWAA), talks about how much your choice of a dog says about you.
He mentions the designer dogs that make a fashion statement for their owners. Winston Churchill, who everyone thought would have a bulldog, actually owned and loved a miniature poodle named Rufus, implying that his internal personality was different from what people saw on the outside.
Quoted in this column, Nicholas Dodman, a veterinarian behaviorist and author, said, "Pushy dogs tend to have pushover owners and there's even a study out there that supports this. In my experience, people who have anxious dogs do tend to be more nervous."
Another statement from psychologist Stanley Coren, a professor at the University of British Columbia, found that certain people would match themselves up with certain breeds of dogs. Self-assured people own terriers. More presidents, including George W. Bush, have owned terriers more than any other breed.
A very shy individual may choose a friendly, outgoing dog, as a way to make friends when the owner does not have the skills to reach out to other people. A dog like this will bring people to the owners. Dog parks are becoming social gathering places for people looking for friendships among other dog lovers.
Cats usually do not sit around waiting to be chosen. They put themselves in charge of the choosing process. People who prefer a reptile or ferret as a pet are making a statement, according to Dale.
No matter the breed or mixture of breeds that you choose, all dogs need training. This needs to begin the day the new pet comes into your household. And it never stops. Training is stimulating for your dog and is a great way to spend time and develop that special bond. Tricks are fun to teach and fun for the dog to learn. Well-trained dogs are happy dogs because they know what is expected of them and they have learned how to follow the rules. Below is information about dog events and training classes.
Next week's column will talk about a special therapy dog and Therapy Dog International. If you would like to find out what is required and have your dog tested, call Joanie King at (928) 474-8953. If there is an interest, classes could be offered to help people prepare for both the Canine Good Citizen Test and TDI. The skills required for these tests are basic, but important, for all dogs.
Newly adopted shelter dogs have a free training class at 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, at the Pine Horse Arena. Regular behavior classes will begin on Wednesday, May 9. There will be a choice of either 9 a.m. or 6 p.m. classes. Call Margie Mansell at (928) 478-6489, for registration information.
A traditional obedience class is also being planned. Lori Chandler and Mansell will offer two workshops -- May 19 and June 30 -- through the Payson Parks and Recreation Department. Watch for more information in the new brochure.
There is an informal gathering of dog walkers each Sunday at 2 p.m. and Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. in Green Valley Park. They meet at the memorial. Be sure to bring cleanup bags. Everyone is welcome to join the walkers.
Clicker training classes are being planned for this summer. Clicker training is fun for dog and handler and you will find the hidden genius in your dog. Call me, Christy, at (928) 476-2239 and watch this column for more information.
Agility is a popular dog event consisting of a series of obstacles. It is great exercise and wonderful fun for both dog and owner. Jane Burlison offers agility-training classes. For more information, call her at (928) 468-0250.
On Sept. 8, the Gila County Fair in Payson will host Dog Day. Lots of fun events are being planned. There will be training sessions and then a chance to show off the new skills. It should be fun for dogs and humans of all ages. Watch for more information.
As always, if you are considering a dog training class, be sure that you are comfortable with the teacher and the training methods. If possible, observe a class before signing up.
Low-cost rabies vaccinations
A low-cost rabies vaccination clinic will be from10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Main Street Animal Clinic, 411 W. Main St., on Saturday, May 5. Rabies vaccinations will be $10. Other vaccinations and city and county licenses will be available. With any questions, call (928) 474-9292.
The Payson Humane Society is having its annual rummage sale on Saturday, May 12 at St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church. They could use some help with setting up and moving the heavy pieces to the sale site on Friday, May 11. There will be pizza for all the volunteers. If you can help, please call Penny at (928) 474-4648.
Don't miss this great sale. They always have lots of wonderful stuff and it certainly is for a great cause.
All dogs enjoy continuing education. Spend some time each day teaching a new, fun trick, working on the basics or taking a walk. Take a class. Your dog will love the time you spend with him. You will enjoy it also.
Christy Powers can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by snail mail at HC1Box 210, Strawberry, AZ 85544.