No one knows for sure, but the best estimates by geneticists say the first domestic animal was the dog and at first they were just tamed wolves. That was between 13,000 and 30,000 years ago. Through the ages, dogs have evolved into many different breeds for many different purposes. The one thing they all have in common is that they can all be our closest friends and greatest allies. This is definitely one thing nature got right!
Each year since 1981 we’ve set apart the first week in June to celebrate this amazing relationship. There is so much to appreciate about our four-legged buddies. They assist people every day to have a better life, from living more independently to recognizing signs of stress and illness. They lead the blind, hear for the deaf, and comfort the anxious. They find lost children and pull swimmers from the water. Dogs work alongside their humans on the police force, in the military, and one the farm. Guarding us and keeping us safe, they lay near our feet where they are the most content.
We all grew up with noble canines like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Beethoven, Marley, and Toto. But the most important dog that ever lived is sitting by your side right now, happy to simply be in your presence. There is nothing the world can throw at us that can turn our dog’s devotion away from the human he adores and he doesn’t need wealth or fame to make his world perfect.
So what will you do this year to show your dog how irreplaceable he is? Here are a few suggestions.
● Feast your friend! Dogs are omnivores, meaning they need all kinds of food to get their proper nutrition. And while it’s best to stick to the diet you and your vet agree on, an occasional treat will be delightful to dogs. They can pretty much eat the same foods you do, but avoid sugar, alcohol, chocolate, grapes, raisins, garlic, macadamia nuts, onions, and the artificial sweetener Xylitol. Small portions, too, please!
● Let your pooch splash in a “doggie pool” (kids’ pool).
● Take him for a walk and let him choose the direction and how long he gets to sniff a spot (he’s checking his “d-mail”)!
● Get down on his level. Lie down on the floor with him. It’s so funny to watch his glee when he’s got you on his territory!
● Take a ride in a car with partially open windows (but don’t let him put his head out).
● Give him a long, satisfying scratch in all the places he loves it most.
● Set up a doggy play-date and take him to the dog park to play with his friends. Let him do what he pleases and enjoy the summer sun with him.Maybe you’ve been appreciating other people’s pets until now, but this year is your year to get a dog of your own. Check out your local pet shelter or rescue group and get a friend that will appreciate you as much as you appreciate him!