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A Christmas Tail

The phone rings. When I answer, a frantic woman on the other end of the line insists I find a new home for her two dogs. Terriers.

“Just come get them, I don’t want to do this anymore,” she exclaims, sobbing. “This was my husband’s idea for the kids’ Christmas present, now he’s gone and I’m stuck with two dogs and I don’t know what I’m doing, so just find them a new home,” she says in a depressed tone.

All too often this is how pet owners end up with their pets. The first step to responsible and humane treatment of pets is choosing one whose purpose your lifestyle and facilities can fulfill. If this particular family had come to me for advice on which breed was best for them, this particular terrier breed would not have even been on the list of possibilities.  Now all I have at the other end of the phone is post-holiday heart ache.

You see, terriers are energetic, tenacious, earth dogs. Sturdy and strong, they were originally bred to work around the farm to eliminate “pest” animals that interfere with productivity.  If they are to scare off other animals, they must be like an athlete—quick, decisive, fearless and independent. It takes a patient pet owner to bring such a dog to the city, exercise and train with instincts like that of an independent terrier breed whose needs cannot be ignored. Terriers should never be trained to engage in tug-o-war, but rather game of fetch is more fitting.

You still really want a pet or a puppy for Christmas? Remember, after the excitement settles someone ends up taking care of the dog and who is that person going to be? A puppy is not something that looks cute and is taken on a whim unless you are experienced with the time it takes for the feeding and care that is required. The consequence of being uneducated?  The puppy could end up at the rescue.

With an estimated 6-8 million cats and dogs entering the shelters in 2011, only 50% will make it out alive. This does not include hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, and yes, even goats.  At only a 50% adoption rate for the cats and dogs, without drastic change in the way we home animals, their futures look bleak.

Be wise and take the time to seek professional advice BEFORE bringing a pet into your home. Find out which pet would be the best fit.  This is especially important around the holidays when everything is already sure to be in some ordered chaos. Take time to find the breed of dog or type of pet with characteristics that complement your lifestyle.

In the end, with a little patience, education, and training the terriers stayed in their home and their mom fell deep under the spell of their furry love. Once she understood how to communicate and care for the pups, life began to click. With help from their gardener, we created a section of the backyard dedicated as “Terrier-ville, Where a dog can be a dog.” Luckily, they all lived happily ever after in this “Tail.”

How do you know what pet is right for you? How do you find a dog whose purpose you can fulfill? Check out my breed blog at www.gcunleashed.com where I dig up the facts regarding the right pet to fit your life. And if you still have questions or need assistance finding the right pet for you, email me, seek a local professional’s assistance with experience and success in matching people with the right pets, or contact AKC.org.

It’s my Christmas wish that all pets have a loving home. Adopt a rescue from a shelter or breed specific rescue group today.

~Geralynn Cada

www.gcunleashed.com