Love and be loved: the joy of owning a dog

26 October 2014


By Susi Cohen, President of the Palmetto Dog Club and FOTAS Volunteer Trainer

Dogs are unmatched in their devotion, loyalty and interaction to humankind. Anyone who has ever loved a dog can attest to its hundred-fold return. The excitement your dog shows when you come home, the wagging tail at the sound of the leash being taken from its hook, the delight in the tossing of a tennis ball, and the head nestled in your lap are only some of the rewards of having a dog in your life.

Owning a dog is not just a privilege – it’s a responsibility. They depend on us for, at minimum, food and shelter, so taking a dog into your life involves a serious commitment to its wellbeing for the rest of its life.

And for a shelter dog, who has already experienced some level of disruption, loss and perhaps trauma in its life, the stakes are even higher: your commitment and patience may literally mean the difference between a happy, secure life and certain death. You are his second chance.

It’s not like buying a new car. You can’t just trade your dog in when he misbehaves, gets sick or when circumstances in your home environment change.

Plus, if you take the time to teach your new dog how to be a good family member from the very beginning, the payoff is huge.  Not only will you will ease the stress of the transition from shelter to home and limit his potential to make mistakes, you will build a bond that will last a lifetime.

Make time for your dog and create a schedule for play, feeding and sleeping. He will quickly learn what to expect and be content with it. It will also give your life purpose. Remember that while you are at work, out with friends, or running errands, your dog is waiting for you to come home.  You are his whole world.

Training your new companion is most important. He needs to understand who’s in charge and what the rules are.  This gives his life structure and builds confidence and reinforces his bond with you.

Moreover, a trained dog is a happy dog.

Teaching your dog basic commands such as heel, sit, stay, come and down will make your life easier and help you keep him safe.

Expose your dog to different people and settings regularly. Take him to the park, to the pet store, on a walk through town. The more your dog learns of the world, the more comfortable he will be in it.

Obedience classes can be a great experience for you and your dog. It can help address issues with professional assistance. You may discover your dog has a talent for learning and is able to compete in obedience, agility or tracking events. More fun for the both of you, I promise.

Because your dog loves you, he wants to please you. Praise him lavishly for obeying commands and behaving well. Using positive, rather than negative, reinforcement will help your dog enjoy learning. Always be consistent so your dog is not confused.

Finally love and enjoy your dog, he will return that love in spades.


FOTAS’ Lenny’s Brigade and FOTAS’ Fix-a-Pet organized the pick-up of 28 dogs and cats this week and funded their spay/neuter surgeries


KANE     Boxer mix — male — 3 yrs old — 51 lbs —- $70

LOTTIE   Domestic short hair — female — 7 wks — 1 1/2 lbs — $35