Voices of the clarion: Healthy pets no accident

Humans should make sure animals get care they deserve

Posted: Sunday, February 27, 2005

Anyone who knows me knows I'm crazy about dogs. Even people who don't know me have a pretty good indication when they step into my house, car or office.

What can I say. I find the four-legged creatures irresistible.

Still, I'm surprised to find there's always someone crazier about them than me.

However, I don't make my dogs wear clothes — well, unless you count silly, festive head wear.

I only get them dolled up occasionally, but that's just because they're going to make an appearance at a special event.

And I try not to fuss over them, with the exception of using language such as "my children," "Princess" and "go see Daddy."

OK, maybe I'm a little overboard.

Last weekend, though, I felt a bit out of the loop when the Midnight Sun Golden Retriever Club held its annual birthday party. I was slightly underdressed, if I base my appearance on the woman sitting next to me.

Not only did she have the full golden attire, she also had a purse to match.

Hey, I carry a dog bag in the car, but I would never go as far as the purse!

Well, it depends on if the golden looks like one of my kids. Not all goldens look alike, you know.

Granted, they are a beautiful breed to look at, they make incredible family dogs, and in our house, they are a lot of fun to train and compete with, but I am not a golden snob. I love all dogs.

This time of year it's easy to get caught up in all the dog happenings. The Yukon Quest just wrapped up, Iditarod is on its heels, and "Animal Planet" is in its glory broadcasting dog breed shows to give you an even broader idea of what's available for today's pick of the litter.

But you don't have to specifically love a husky, a poodle or even a golden. You can love a Heinz 57, a ragamuffin or a mutt. Every one of them is happy to find a place in our hearts. And dogs, in general, would do anything to give us that unconditional love we so crave from them.

However, it's important that we have something to give them, too.

One thing we can do is make sure they're healthy.

You can bet no good musher trains an unhealthy dog. There are check-ups and paperwork and plenty of time spent on each dog to make sure they can handle the load.

The same should go for any pet owner. Taking care of "our kids" is the best way to ensure they'll be around for years to come.

A few months ago, I wrote about Chester, our oldest golden. Chester would have been 16 this month, but he didn't make it that far. He got sick, had surgery and then had an incredible comeback. But it was short lived.

Chester got the chance to be a puppy one more time before his health went south in a hurry. We had a hard time letting go, but 16 is a pretty impressive age for a dog Chester's size. We know he had a good life. We made sure he did to the very end.

Monitoring a pet's health more often than not can be the difference between life and death.

Such was the case at our house Thursday.

When my 3-year-old golden Sophi doesn't feel well, she has a fetish for cloth. This time it was a blanket and a vest. Unfortunately, the blanket had lots of strings in it.

A trip to the vet was crucial. The strings became a weapon in her belly, and the vet was able to remove them, although it was just a matter of time before they would have jeopardized her life, he said — a very short amount of time.

I'm not going to preach about "you need to do this and that," and maybe it's just because I had such a big scare, but I can't imagine my life without Sophi — or Bailey, or Tucker and Cayenne, for that matter. And I have the power — and responsibility — to make sure I do all I can to help them stick around for as long as they can.

It's good to have the power. I consider it a gift, and it's the least I can share with them.

Until our next emergency vet visit, and I just know Cayenne's turn is coming, I intend to spend a lot of time with "my children." Lord knows they must be feeling good, because they're starting to get a bit rambunctious as I write this.

This is where all those hours, days, weeks and months of training really come in handy.

"Go see Daddy!"

Dori Lynn Anderson is the managing editor of the Peninsula Clarion.

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