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Including a Dog in your life

Recently I’ve read far too many stories about rescue dogs who have been surrendered after spending years on the end of a rope in the backyard or kept in a garage or kennel. The multitude of comments after these stories are all the same – how can anyone do that to an animal? And why would you get a dog if you weren’t prepared to make it part of your life and your family?

The truth is I think a lot of people get a dog with good intentions but they don’t know HOW to make it a part of their life and instead of taking the time to figure out how they end up neglecting the dog. It’s a lose/lose situation.

When I first got Avy I had no idea how much effort it was going to take to figure out how to live together. I had visions of taking her running with me and spending tons of time together. But the first time I tried to take her for a run she had NO idea how to run on leash (and wasn’t ready yet to run off) and kept tripping me up. Then there were the times I had to leave her to go places that she couldn’t come. That wasn’t great either. So I set out to find ways to include her in my lifestyle and make sure she had the time, exercise and attention that she needed.

First up was finding places that I could take Avy running where she could be off leash – Vancouver has a TON of dog friendly trails perfect for going for a run with your dog. Next up was finding dog friendly places that I could shop, eat, and hang out with my friends. Turns out they weren’t hard to find. There are plenty of stores that welcome dogs in (they need to be on leash and well behaved) and there are more activities in the city than I realized that I could do with a dog. The best part of all of this is that Avy and I started to make lots of new friends with other dogs and their humans.

I’m happy to say that Avy and I have now built a strong network of dog friends and activities. Evenings and weekends are spent on the trails going for a run, shopping with friends or grabbing a coffee and catching up while the dogs play at the dog beach. The best part of this new network is that if I have appointments or things that need to be done that Avy can’t participate in I have a people I can call on to take Avy out or have her over for a play in the afternoon. Avy and I are happy to return the favour when our friends need it as well.

The moral to this story is that while it is true that dogs are a lot of work, perhaps more then many people expect when they adopt, it is possible to integrate them into your life and build a network of help for those times when you can’t. There is no reason why a dog should need to spend a life on a tether or locked in a pen.