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Clark

By Connie Warnock

Hubby and I were up with bells on (and dogs barking) to watch President Trump’s inauguration this morning. Having a dog is like having a child who never ages beyond 5 years. I receive probably ten or more referrals by the American Kennel Club each year, and the question is always somewhat the same: “Should I get a dog; and, if so, what breed?”

I take this trust very seriously and the conversations are not “short and sweet.” I remind the prospective dog owner of the responsibility involved and the expense. The love of a dog is deep and pure; a life changer for most owners. The great thing is, most people realize this and have determined it’s the right move for them. Before I suggest a breeder, I refer them to Clackamas County Dog Services, an adoption/rescue agency. There seems to be a fairly-equal number of those who would consider a “rescue,” and those who want a puppy.

The beginning of the new year is the time many people decide to make this commitment. I stress commitment because some prospective dog owners have no idea of the training, feeding, and veterinary expenses involved. The rewards, of course, are something that can’t be measured. Dogs are very good for families, but only if they are made to fit in; which requires gentle, but consistent training. Also, with the current winter weather, I sometimes suggest that maybe late spring is a better time to bring a dog into the family. I can and do suggest foods and veterinarians.

I warn against “puppy mills” and make sure prospective owners know that a six-week-old puppy should not leave its mother. The AKC suggests 10 weeks universally. I give pointers of what to look for in a puppy. Often a puppy will choose you! I give advice on being cognizant of the physical surroundings of the puppy and the parents. They should not be in an out building. They should be part of the family and thus socialized properly.

If you are considering a puppy or older dog, consider first your life style – home, activities and travel. Know that you will be accommodating the dog, not the other way around. You are adding a “child,” and, if done right, a whole bunch of fun and joy to your family. Be prepared to lose your heart because it will happen. The love of a dog is unconditional. You will laugh and you will cry.

And, the world will be a better place as you reach down to scratch those ears.

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