Here’s a confession: I knew nothing about dogs when I adopted my first dog, Iphie, an energetic 10 month old Airedale terrier mix.
I was a graduate student then. Just about ready to turn 22. Living in a new state. Far from home. I was feeling like an adult in my new apartment, but I was also lonely and wanted some canine company. And I thought I knew a lot about dogs, because I had grown up with Toby.
After bringing Iphie home I quickly realized that I actually knew nothing about dogs from my young life with Toby, other than that I enjoyed their company and that they don’t enjoy wearing hats, glasses, or wigs. My family had added Toby to our household when I was ten years old. I wasn’t so observant then. Nor was I deeply involved in the dog’s care. (Give me a break! I was ten!) My parents and older siblings had spared me the trouble of dealing with house training, a puppy’s normal urge to chew, and routine medical problems like worms. Each of these things was a big deal for me and Iphie. Not only that, but I had trouble getting my coursework done because this new puppy wanted to play all the time. And she didn’t understand about using a soft mouth; her teeth were sharp and ready to wound.
I worried that I would never tame my wild child but I was also already totally in love with her; there was no question of me giving her up. Luckily there was a great community of dog walkers in my neighborhood; they taught me the things I didn’t learn from my folks. And eventually Iphie and I worked out a routine: I got my coursework done, she developed a rawhide chew habit, and we enjoyed 12 great years together.
Which brings me to the moral of this post: unless we are in the animal care business (e.g. veterinary medicine, animal sheltering, or training) most of us know what we know about pets from our parents. And if we learned these lessons as very young people, we may not have learned so very much. This makes me think that there is a need for local humane education – guidelines for basic care, answers to common problems, and training advice. And that’s something that KV-POP wants to provide via this blog as well as in schools and other community venues.
Would you like to get involved in KV-POP’s humane education initiative? Please let us know. In the coming weeks we will be recruiting members to provide this outreach, as well as teachers who will welcome us into their classrooms. We will be making arrangements for dog training courses for people who need this help. Finally, we will be asking for your pet related questions so that we can share answers in the future blog posts. (To contact us for any of these purposes, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.)