Dogs can’t speak for themselves. So we have to speak for them.
What does it mean to be an advocate for my dog?
An advocate is a person who speaks or acts in support of or on behalf of someone or something else. Advocating for your dog means always doing what is best for them. As a dog owner, it is your responsibility to protect your dog from physical and emotional harm, and to ensure their well-being and quality of life. Our dogs love and trust us unconditionally. We must do what we can to maintain and truly deserve that trust. An important part of being a responsible dog owner is making the commitment to advocate for your dog for the duration of his life. When you bring a dog into your family, you need to consider that you are committing to making all of their important decisions for the entire time they are alive. This makes it very important to be well-informed, do your research, and ask questions!
Dogs are thought to have been domesticated (or, alternatively thought, domesticated us) between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago. The relationship between dogs and humans stemmed originally from mutual necessity. Humans provided dogs with warmth, shelter, and readily available food. Dogs provided humans with hunting assistance, protection, and companionship. Modern dog/human relationships are primarily based on companionship, and therefore it is dogs who have the most to gain from having a responsible and conscious owner.
Dogs also act as advocates for humans, in some ways. Medical-alert dogs can detect diseases, such as diabetes and cancer, even better than some lab tests. Also, service dogs can help their owners with every day tasks such as walking, hearing, obtaining medical assistance, coping with mood disorders, and much more.
Did you know that the average dog is as smart as a two-year-old child?
Our children grow up and learn to advocate for themselves. Our fur children, however, do not. Just like humans, dogs need a high quality team who is dedicated to their health. You are the team captain, and the best resource when it comes to your dog’s well-being, because you know your dog best. In addition, your vet needs to be a part of that team. Just like you have a special bond with your dog, it is helpful for you and your dog to have a bond with your vet. When it comes to what is best for your pet, you and your vet should both contribute respect, trust, and dialogue. If your doctor/patient relationship doesn’t have these qualities, it may not be right. There is no shame in realizing that your vet isn’t right for your pet.
What does it mean to be an animal advocate?
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, animal welfare is defined as how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives. An animal can be in a good state of welfare, or, unfortunately, a bad state of welfare. This extends far beyond your own home, and encompasses many issues. The most important thing to remember is that animals do not have a voice. We are their voices. It is up to us, as human beings, to make sure that animals are being treated fairly and humanely. Here at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona (HSSA), we are very passionate about animal welfare, and are doing our part to give all animals the best lives we can.
Dogs are truly amazing animals. They deserve the best we can give them. Advocating for your dog is an absolutely critical part of being a responsible dog owner. Don’t forget: do your research, stay well-informed, and speak up! Your dog is counting on you.
In what ways have you been a great advocate for your dog? Leave us a comment below and let us know.
September is Responsible Dog Ownership Month! This post is the third in a series of four posts about what it means to be a responsible dog owner. Check out the other posts in the series, Are You a Responsible Dog Owner?, 6 Do’s and Don’ts of Feeding Your Dog, and How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?