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  • Writer's pictureHeather Brendle

What do we "owe" our dogs?

black and white pit bull jumping over an agility jump
Lucy. She is the dog that taught me that what a dog's needs, depends on the dog.

This is an interesting question, and the answer is a whole lot of, "It depends". It depends on your dog(s). It depends on their personalities, their physical exercise needs, and their age. In some cases, it depends on their breed and their breeding.

Tonight, Thiago was reacting to the television. It is an extremely difficult thing to completely train out if not everyone in the home (I am looking at you hubby) is not willing to follow strict rules. So, we manage it. It is exponentially worse when Thiago doesn't get his needs met. This past week, Thiago didn't get everything he needed, and it showed. I wanted to relax after a long week, and I wanted to just chill with my adult beverage. But I owed my dog. I had not met his needs and I owed it to him to make it happen. So, I drug my tired ass off the couch, took him outside and played and did some obedience (that's his jam). Now he is quietly resting, his needs met, his brain and body satiated. I did right by my dog and can go to sleep knowing I got it right today.

The bar for each dog is different, there is no question there. Tater's needs are met more easily, his physical exercise bar is much lower, and he is more geared towards Netflix and chill, especially at his age. For Thiago, the exercise and mental stimulus bar is so much higher, and I feel the obligation to do my best to meet it. It doesn't need to be met every day, but only once a week is not going to cut it.

So, what do we do if we don't have the spoons to meet our dogs needs each day? For me? I employ enrichment. It is something I do anyway but if I am falling behind in life, I ramp it up. I don't need to be "on" to provide it and it takes little physical effort on my part. Depending on what I choose, it can be mentally and physically fulfilling for my dogs too. I don't write this to shame anyone (or myself) because life happens and in general, our dogs have a damn good life. But it is on my mind as I think about my best boy and how he needed more from me today, and thankfully, I had it to give. If you find yourself unable to meet your dog(s) needs, cut yourself some slack, grab a frozen marrow bone and let them have at it. Try again tomorrow. The beauty of dogs is that they will be right here waiting for us.

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