When I set out to write a book about dogs, I had a skimpy knowledge of the canine species. Mostly, I had experience and most of it wasn't very positive. I have memories of my Dad bringing home strays, only to have them get killed by the neighbors dog or hit by a car. Then as an adult, I learned that when everyone in the house wants a pet, it’s usually Mom that ends up with the brunt of the work. I also had a huge fear of large dogs due to an attack I experienced while riding my trike one day. How does one write about something when you don’t know very much about it? Research. So I began to research and what I learned changed my perspective and my feelings toward dogs. Here are ten things I learned. Some of them are fun, most are interesting and some are painful.
1- When a dog wags it’s tail it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s happy to see you. Evaluate the entire dogs body language or you may find yourself in a world of hurt. See Animal Planet article here.
2- With 83.3 million dogs in America, many of them living in 56.7% of households, it’s important for everyone to understand dog behavior. Every year 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs. CDC statistics.
3- Black dogs are less likely to be adopted for several reasons. They tend to blend into the background, go unnoticed at shelters. The “black dog” has negative connotations that make them less desirable. Fifty-four percent of shelters report that their inmates suffer from Big Black Dog Syndrome.
4- Move over Dancing With the Stars, Freestyle Dancing with Dogs is heading for the big time. Yes, Dancing with Dogs is now a real event with rules and judges and yes, the dogs are the stars! See the YouTube Video here.
5- There are phone apps for dogs. Who knew? Try Dog Toy a free app that will have your dog, or any dog for that matter following you around to find out where the sound is from. Here are some other fun free apps for you to try: Dog Whistle, Tag, Screen Cleaner, Click Dog. Even petfinder.com has a free app for adopting pets. See Mashable article here for even more apps.
6-Dogs can play copy-cat. Scientists have now proven that dogs can learn through imitation. Surprisingly, our dogs can mimic our behavior which means they are likely to behave according to how we act and behave.
7- Senior Dogs are developing CDS, cognitive dysfunction syndrome. These changes in the brain are almost exactly like what occurs in human brains with Alzheimer’s disease.
8- “It’s better to hop on three legs than limp on four.” --Tripawds While researching for my short story “Three Is Enough” I learned how common canine cancer has become, but I also learned that survival and living a full life is also possible.
9- There are at least 10,000 puppy mills in the United States and only 3,000 of them are regulated. The majority of puppy mills have extreme overcrowding and stacked cages that are usually wire mesh. Breeding females have an average nine puppies a year. See Humane Society.
10- Dog fighting is illegal but the newly enacted Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, included in the final 2014 Farm Bill, makes it a federal felony to knowingly bring a minor under the age of 16 to a dogfight or cockfight. It also creates a federal misdemeanor to knowingly attend a fight as a spectator.
Most of all, I learned that it’s our responsibility to speak for the animals that don’t have voices of their own. I will never see another dog the same way again.
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