Dogs are Dogs & People are People

There is a popular saying that resonates with many people. The saying is: “Dogs are People too”. I very much understand the sentiment of this saying and appreciate the message and meaning behind it. I interpret it to say we love our dogs so much we hold them at the same level as the other humans we love. We love them like we love humans. We love dogs so much we are always looking for ways to communicate that love to them and to the world at large. Dogs are members of our family.

As Pet Parents we are a human parent to canine specie the dog. We are dealing with two different species: the human specie and the canine specie. Dogs are definitely members of our family. They are canine members in a human family system. We as humans think like a human all the time even when we are trying to relate to our dogs. This is where lines get blurred. For example, we often say "no" to our dogs and expect they will understand what "no" means. Unless we think like a dog or at least try to understand our dogs, speaking to them as a human and expecting them to understand our language and respond accordingly just will not happen. What we need to do is provide training for our dogs so they know what is expected of them. Training will help our dogs know what behavior is associated with a command like "leave it", "sit", "stay". If we train our dog to demonstrate the desired behavior with the verbal command then they will behave accordingly. That is the result of training a dog. Our dogs want very much to please us and live comfortably in our world with us. It is our responsibility to train them so that can happen. And most sincerely it is our dogs right to receive this training. This can be similar to sending our human child to school. However, our human child speaks our language which makes learning less challenging and our dogs never will speak our language. Providing training for our dogs is a language substitute link of sorts.

Dogs are different from humans and have different needs than humans. They walk on four legs, have paws not fingers, they bark and as I said they do not speak our spoken human language, they go to the bathroom outdoors, their idea of play is often to chew on something chewable no matter what it is, they need physical exercise (walks) and mental exercise (brain toys like puzzles); dogs like to eat grass, dig in the dirt, chase squirrels and rabbits and love their human pet parents no matter what.

I think it is our dog’s devotion and love for us that makes us so willing to love them. There is another saying “All you need is love and a dog”.  I believe this saying confirms how we feel about our dogs when we love them and they love us in return. It is in the bond of that love that we feel similarities with our beloved dogs. Dogs look into our eyes with a soulful look and touch our hearts. They sincerely want to please us and make us happy. Most of all they want to be with us all the time. The key is to understand we are in a relationship with another specie who loves us and we love back.

Being a responsible pet parent in that relationship means understanding our dogs’ needs beyond food, water, and exercise. Dogs need a purpose and even a job. Recently I had my dog Jive entered in a Nose Work Trial and was impressed with what one of the judges said when he addressed all the participants. He supported all of us for bringing our dogs on this Nose Work adventure. He went on to say, “Most dogs never leave their house or their backyards”.

While we have our busy lives with work, friends, errands, fun events on weekends, family get togethers, vacations, and other life demands, our dogs are always at home waiting for us. It seems we love our dogs like family members but are we truly recognizing their canine needs? Dogs need a purpose. For example my dogs bring a soft toy outside every time they go into the backyard. I have trained them to bring the toy in when they return to the house. They get a small reward and are very proud of themselves. Both my dogs are trained Animal Assisted Therapy Dogs. They have regularly scheduled visits for therapy sessions. They both attend regular Nose Work classes. Some times I think my dogs schedules are busier than mine. And perhaps that is how it should be.

As human parents to our human children we make sure they are transported to school, sports, and birthday party’s, and all the activities their busy lives demand. We are delighted to do this because we love them and we are their parents. It is our responsibility as a human parent to meet our human child’s needs.

 As pet parents to our canine family members we have a responsibility to engage our dogs in a purposeful life. Most importantly we need to train them to have good manners so they can live comfortably in our human world. We need to help them feel valued by exposing them to a canine sport and engaging them in one they like or possibly service work. Finding out what is a meaningful experience for your dog and fostering that experience together to build that bond between the two of you. Dogs love us so much and dogs depend on us for absolutely everything. We are responsible to provide them with shelter, food, exercise, and a meaningful life as a member of our family.

In conclusion dogs are dogs and people are people. It is important to respect our differences and our similarities. And together we can foster a long, lasting bond of love and loyalty in our relationship.