A Dog's Ten Commandments
If Dogs Could Talk. . .
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I have heard from the author of "A Dog's Ten Commandments." He is **Stan Rawlinson and he wrote them in 1993 - and again, Stan, great work and thanks for contacting me. He says some of the commandments are not as he wrote them so I am going to edit them with his exact language. My comments will remain as is and unaltered.
Sometimes we humans go blithely through life and never stop to consider our importance in the lives of our canine companions. This came home to me last week when I received an email (actually it was in my spam folder) from I know not whom, that started bells ringing in my head. The article was called A Pet’s Ten Commandments and if anyone knows the author I’d love to send them kudos and give them credit as it’s certainly due.
First, a little background on my two Cocker Spaniel "kids." I’ve had Jake, my platinum Cocker, since he was six weeks old. I bought him from a lady in Dallas for the sole purpose of providing a bit of canine companionship to my handicapped Mom who was in a nursing home. We visited often and not only did Mom take great delight in the puppy but he soon became a favorite of all the residents. Everyone would line up wheel chairs and take turns throwing the ball down a long hall to watch Jake slip, slide and fall trying to retrieve it. After Mom passed away it was Jake and I and we’ve been down a lot of life’s roads together.
Jake, now nearly 10 years old, was an only Cocker Kid until two weeks ago when Sam joined us. Sam was listed with a Cocker Rescue organization and we inquired about the eight-month-old pup, went to visit him and he came home with us. My thinking was he would be a companion for the aging Jake and keep him up and moving. He’s done that for sure! Sam is not only extremely gregarious but larger and more agile than Jake and regularly knocks Jake on his furry old butt – to which Jake takes great exception. I have hope for them as friends as today I found them curled up side-by-side, sound asleep - and that's big progress!
The Pet's Ten Commandments:
1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful. Remember that before you buy me.
It would be ideal if this 10-15 year consideration came into play when adding a dog to the family is first contemplated. Far too many prospective dog owners are "in the moment" when they get Fido and once cute puppyhood is past and Fido is a grown dog the romance is over and Fido becomes a burden and a chore. Too many times a dog is left in a fenced back yard (or tied) and only gets attention at feeding time – if someone remembers to feed him/her at all. How many pet ads do we see that say "cute dog – one year old – don’t have enough time to spend with him/her – re-homing fee?"
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me, don't be impatient, short-tempered, or irritable.
Dogs will want to please you and do what you want if you’ve taken the time to help them understand. If you tell Fido to lay down once ever six months he’s more than likely not going to comply. If you’ve not properly house trained the process is not going to come to him in a flash of light.
3. Place your trust in me and I will always trust you back. Respect is earned not given as an inalienable right.
That one’s self-explanatory; if one doesn’t establish a loving, trusting relationship with Fido he’ll never be socialized and pleasant to be around. Loved and trusted dogs want to please their owners.
4. Don’t be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. I am not capable of understanding why? I only know I have been rejected, you have your work, entertainment and friends - I only have you.
You are the supreme being in your dog’s life and his/her life revolves around you and your presence. Fido is totally dependent on you and locking him/her up doesn’t solve anything but makes a nervous, anxious, frantic dog. A fenced yard is one thing but locking a dog up in a bathroom for hours is mistreatment in any language.
5. Talk to me sometimes, even if I don’t understand your words, I understand your voice and your tone - "you only have to look at my tail."
Dogs respond to their human’s tone of voice and react accordingly. If you scream and yell at a dog all the time he/she soon becomes immune to the unkindness and ignores it to survive. If, instead, your voice reflects love and direction a dog will make every effort to figure out what you want.
6. Be aware that however you treat me; I will never forget it and if it's cruel it may affect me forever.
Harsh and unkind treatment does not work with dogs. Although they may not understand they remember and will avoid those persons that are mean and hurt them.
7. Please don't hit me. I can't hit back but I can bite and scratch and I really don't ever want to do that.
An undisciplined dog is a pleasure to no one. Hitting and striking a dog does not train; it irritates, confuses and creates both fear and anger. Educate yourself on the training and care of dogs before you own one.
8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, obstinate or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right foods, or I've been out in the sun too long or my heart might be getting old or weak. I may be just dog tired.
Be attuned to what’s going on with your dog. If he/she suddenly slows down, is lethargic, inattentive or cross it’s highly likely there’s a reason and it could be health related. Never assume a suddenly grumpy dog has just had a personality change – check it out.
9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You, too, will grow old and may also need love, care, comfort and attention.
Pay particular attention to what’s going on with older dogs. Often their eyesight begins to fail, they become incontinent, joints become painful and thought processes aren’t as quick. Be considerate – your dog will go as far as he/she can for you and you should do the same.
10. Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say: "I can't bear to watch" or "let it happen inmy absence." Everything is easier for me if you are there. Remember, irrespective of what you do I will always love you.
This is the hardest thing dog owners will ever face. They have to make the final decision and it’s inevitable with extreme illness or beyond functioning old age. I had to make the ultimate journey with my German Shepherd, Joshua. Josh was the dog of dogs and the friend of friends and we were together 17 wonderful years. With age he suffered terribly with hip dysplasia and even with medication and good care his affliction worsened. I had a friend come to the house and stay with him when I was at work as his needs were that great. I was 100 miles away when she called to say Josh couldn’t get up at all. I turned the car around and headed home immediately.
When I arrived at the house and Josh heard my voice he struggled and managed to stand but couldn’t move to come meet me. I went to his bed to greet him and help him lay back down. I called his vet before I could back out. The vet and his assistant came to my house and after my old friend and I said our last long and painful goodbye with me holding Josh in my arms; the vet gave the injection.
Do I regret it? No, but that doesn’t make it any easier to this very day and I know I’ll always miss him. We gave each other the best we had for 17 years and Joshua was family. In fact, in my family bible where all the births and deaths and important things in a family’s life are written down; I made an entry for Joshua:
"My Joshua, beloved German Shepherd Dog, crossed the rainbow bridge today, December 21, 1999. He was the light, joy and unconditional love in my life for 17 years and will live forever in my heart. Goodbye, dear friend."
As my computer screen has become blurry; that’s as good an ending as any.
**Stan Rawlinson , Author of A Dog's Ten Commandments, Dog Behaviourist & Obedience Trainer's website is www.doglistener.co.uk