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New Year's Resolutions



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Doggone Etiquette —

New Year’s Resolutions

By Bardi McLennan

A Word to the Dog:           

You may not have noticed, but a new year has begun. The parties and celebrations will finally wind down this weekend and everyone will get around to facing the year ahead. Nothing much will affect you other than the usual changes in weather and at some point along the way you’ll be a year older. Thousands of years ago, the Chinese didn’t wait for individual birthdays, and everyone automatically became one year older on New Year’s Day. This year Chinese New Year occurs on the 26th of January, so if you’re a Chinese Crested or Shar-Pei, keep your eyes open for a surprise birthday cake.

One New Year’s event that could be fun for you is a winter vacation. Your V.I. People might take you along on a trip to the land of sunshine (aka Florida) or to the winter wonderland of New England or Canada. Wow! Pretty exciting! Or, you might spend the time in a kennel with lots of new friends – dogs and people.                    

No matter where you go (or even if you stay home), this is the time of year when all dogs make things called New Year’s Resolutions. Sounds fancy, but it simply means that you promise (on a stack of Canine Bibles) that you will be good all year long. Well, at least better than you were last year. Here is a poem that spells it out for you.

A New Year’s Resolution for Dogs:

Watch when you’re spoken to.

Come when you’re called.

Wag your tail after you.

Do as you’re told.

A Word to the Dog’s Owners:          

The holiday entertaining is over and now you can settle down to a normal routine. Or not!  

Your New Year’s resolution (or a major part of it) should include paying attention to the needs of Rufus. Are you handing out too many unearned treats? Could you cut back on the size of his meals and help keep his weight down (as well as tighten your purse strings). Could it be he is practically hibernating and could do with more activity?  That might be a resolution you made for yourself, so figure out some activities you can do together. Brisk winter walks are great, as is playing in snow, but watch out for frozen ponds. Rufus might love to pull the kids on their skates, but patches of thin ice are as dangerous to dogs as they are to the skaters. How about going back to school – I mean taking Rufus back to school, maybe moving up a grade to Rally, or even Agility. 

As for taking a winter break, if Rufus is included in your trip, make a list of things you will need to take for him.  Be sure his license and rabies are current, and take along a clear ID photo with contact information on the back.  Then pack an extra collar and leash, food and water dishes, towels, a few toys. Include water along with a supply of his regular dog food. A change of water can cause mild-to-severe tummy upsets, which would also upset your vacation, but same-brand bottled water is available pretty much everywhere.

Perhaps Rufus is headed for a boarding kennel. If you’ve never boarded him before, when you call about a reservation ask if – and when – you may visit the facility. Since the fewer changes the dog must make, the better off he’ll be, find out if you may leave his food and a few toys for his stay. Some kennels even allow a minimal amount of bedding. Be sure to sign up for playtime if it’s available. All this preparation will do wonders to combat any separation anxiety Rufus might undergo. He’ll repay you with ecstatic appreciation when you’re all home again.

Keep your own Resolutions and have a tail-wagging New Year!         

Until next time – BE GOOD!

- Bardi

Bardi McLennan bred, trained and showed Welsh Terriers for 30 years during which time she wrote a monthly column on canine behavior in Dog fancy Magazine. In addition to contributing to numerous dog publications, she has written 15 books on dogs, the latest being Rescue Me! which received the ASPCA Humane Issues Award last year.

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