The dog: a responsibility and a commitment

Sharing your life with a dog is a unique experience for everyone, but different for everyone. Welcoming a soft pad into your family gives you the joy and cheerfulness that only a puppy can bring. His vivacity, his friendly way of approaching everyone, licking his hands as a sign of friendship, playing continuously for hours and then suddenly collapsing tired dead to sleep as many hours, his barking in the mirror when you see for the first time, thinking that there is another dog in front of him, his happy running in the park with other dogs, expressing all the carefreeness of childhood, looking for us continuously because he does not want to be alone: this and much more is beautiful to see, exciting to live. And again, the smell that only puppies have and that will soon vanish because it will be adult in a few months, its hair still soft, the proportions still undefined, the muzzle tender and defenseless … These are wonderful moments and fleeting, moments to enjoy immediately, without wasting time or postpone to tomorrow because tomorrow the smell of puppy will already be fading, the soft hair will already be giving way to the texture of the adult, the proportions will begin to define themselves. A puppy is wonderful. Choosing to welcome a puppy is wonderful. The affection and loyalty he will be able to give us are wonderful.

However, having a dog is a great responsibility and we should not underestimate the commitment it will require every day for the next 10-15 years. The puppy will do his needs at home in the early days; gnaw socks, shoes, slippers; will find very appetizing the furniture purchased a few months earlier; maybe even the sofa will not be saved from his “puppy fury”; will scratch your hands with his milk teeth; will need to be brought to the vet for checks and vaccinations; he will have to be socialized with his peers, with people, with children, with the elderly; he will have to be accustomed to the noises of the city, to travel by car, to visit the vet; he will have to receive an education so that at one year old he doesn’t become a crazy horse, difficult to manage and unpleasant to accommodate in the house and to take out; he will have to play and play and play; he will lose his fur, some more or less, but he will lose it. As an adult he will have to be taken out at least (but just at least) twice a day; he will continue to lose his fur, especially during the wetsuit period (and apartment dogs are often in permanent wetsuit!); he will need space, to run, to use his energy so as not to turn into stress; he will still need medical care and vaccinations; he will need affection, respect, trust; he will have to be taken out even when it rains, when it is cold, when it freezes, when it snows; you will have to get up early in the morning to guarantee him a good walk before going to work; you will have to play with him; you will have to be there for him because it is you who have chosen him and not him who has chosen you; you will have to be there 365 days a year because he depends entirely on you and has confidence in you. During the holidays you should know that, unfortunately, few accommodations accept animals, alternatively you will have to find a good pension that guests and gradually accustom him to your absence.

Some breeds more than others also have a potential that needs to be managed properly. The news pages increasingly report news of dogs belonging to “dangerous” breeds that attack “for no reason” harmless passers-by or even the owner. Have dogs gone mad in recent years? What’s going on? You don’t need a deep knowledge of dogs to understand that a rottweiler, a doberman, a pit-bull or a Corsican dog has a different potential than a fox, a pug, a Beijinger or a knight. The owner of a dog weighing 30, 40 or even 50 kilos of muscle and brain has a duty to himself, the dog and the community to know how to manage his dog. When new unpleasant news stories involving dogs and assaults are heard on the news, dog lovers often say that it is not the dog’s fault, but that of the owner. Personally, I think that very often the mistake is even earlier, upstream: the choice of the dog. It is wrong to choose a dog by being overwhelmed by the fashion of the moment; it is wrong to choose a dog according to your aesthetic taste, without being informed about the character, attitudes and needs of a breed; it is wrong to underestimate and not consider the commitment that will require to welcome a dog in your family; it is wrong to think that you do not have to change your life after the arrival of the dog; It is wrong to think of choosing a breed because it is said to be affectionate and friendly to children; it is wrong to give your child a dog because a dog is too big a commitment and responsibility for a child; it is wrong to take a dog to be relegated out as a watchdog, without social contact with the family or other people.

The dog is a living being with extreme sensitivity, intelligence, willingness to cooperate and belong to a group. If you want to be quiet against thieves, buy a good burglar alarm; if you want to give a Christmas gift to your child buy him a stuffed animal or the new Nintendo DS video game that simulates a dog; if you want to be quiet against possible attackers, give yourself a good karate course; if you need to feel more virile, take a body building course or have your doctor prescribe Viagra. If you are not willing to change your life, to make sacrifices sometimes, to make a commitment that will last many years, to take on the responsibility of managing, educating, dedicating your time to a dog, then you are not ready for such an experience. When you get tired of him, when you realize that you have no time or desire to devote part of your life to him, when he becomes unmanageable because you have underestimated his potential and his education, what do you think you are doing? At that point you will not be able to remove his batteries and put him in the cellar because you no longer feel like it. Will you give it away? Will you build him a small enclosure with a kennel where he will spend the rest of his life? Will you wait for him to bite someone down and get rid of him? Will you take him to the kennel? Will you place an advertisement in the newspaper to give it away and maybe you will also have the courage to ask for reimbursement of expenses? Wouldn’t it have been easier to assess very seriously, before, the commitment and responsibility that any dog requires? Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to choose the breed carefully, to ask breeders and vets which dog is most suitable for you? Think not two, not ten, not a hundred, but a thousand and a thousand times before you decide to take a dog.

If you are really ready to make this commitment, if you have carefully considered all the pros and cons, if you are willing to change your life with the arrival of the dog, then you are ready to have one of the most rewarding experiences of life. The affection, the unconditional fidelity, the admiration that shines in his eyes every time he looks at you, his desire to always be with you, without ever getting tired, because for him you will never be boring, he will never have enough of you, the punctual trepidation when you get back, even after only five minutes of absence, impatient waiting for the walk, of the game, of the out-of-town trip, as long as it is done together because you are unique and perfect in his eyes and nothing is more beautiful than spending time with you… all this has no price.

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