The 10 Commandments – for the pet owner

As you may know by now if you’ve read very far on this page, my wife and I run an informal dog rescue. We’re very good at rescuing them but very bad about letting them go or finding new homes for them.

As a consequence, we have a lot of dogs right now (8 of them) and have had as many as 22 at one time.

Sometimes they get on my nerves. Sometimes they do stuff that defies any kind of explanation and sometimes maybe I’m just having a bad day and don’t want to deal with them. But always, I remember that they didn’t ask to be here.  They are here because I volunteered to care for them.  And, you know, I love ’em.

I try to keep the below in my thoughts.

1. My life will last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.

Humans live much longer than we do and become attached to other things.  My only attachment, for my entire life, is you. When you aren’t around, I tend to feel a little bit sad, anxious, and lost.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.

I’m a dog. I don’t quite speak your language fluently yet so give me a bit of time to figure it out

3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.

My entire life centers around you and I will do anything and everything to make you happy.  Trust me to do that.

4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainment, but I have only you.

Did I mention I’m 100% focused on you?

5. Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.

Your language is funny sounding but I love hearing your voice.

6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.

I’ll never forget it but then again, I have unconditional love for you so also won’t hold it against you.

7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I could hurt you and yet I choose not to bite you.

I have big teeth but choose not to use them, even if you’re being mean to me.  I could, but I don’t.

8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long, or my heart might be getting old or weak.

I can’t communicate to you when I’m feeling bad or something is off.  Please try to understand.

9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too, will grow old.

I’ll try to care for myself as much as possible but at some point, I’ll need your help more and more. Please be patient with me and help me grow old gracefully.

10. On the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can’t bear to watch. Don’t make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there, because I love you so.

When that time comes, it’s more important than ever for me to know you are by my side.

Damn, I get teary eyed every time I read #9 and #10.  The 10 Commandments for pet owners is gospel though.  If you can’t carry through on all of them, pet ownership may not be for you. If you are game to try, remember you’re doing it for this guy…