Whether you call your canine companion “man’s best friend,” “Fido,” or “Old Yeller,” there is no doubt that we humans across the globe love our domestic canine, better known as the family dog. Remember, man’s best friend protects officers, too.
Surprisingly, canine camaraderie started many thousands of years ago when a brave (and probably slightly crazy) Paleolithic man first domesticated the Canis lupus, or common Grey Wolf.
How exactly it was done, or why, is still disputed, but it is generally accepted that a wolf cub taken at a very early age and raised by humans will domesticate well. Historically, humans continued to domesticate several types of wolves, foxes, and other dog-like animals, using them as K9 dogs or work-animals, hunting, herding, even for their meat or fur.
This unheralded practice continued, and through creative breading, many kinds of domestic dogs began to be found. This happened not only on the farms, but in the households of the wealthy serving as hunting companions and childhood friends alike. As we moved into the 21st century, there were an estimated 400 million dogs on earth, and we continue to rely on them for everything from helping in therapeutic environments to assisting the police and armed forces.
How to know your canine’s ‘the one’
After several thousand years of selective breeding to either suppress or accentuate certain traits, depending on need, there are so many kinds of dogs to choose from. How does a new potential dog owner choose which canine companion to invite into their home?
The answer is to decide exactly what your needs are, what you really want from your new dog. After you know what you want, you must become well-educated about not only what breeds are available to fit your needs, but also the places that supply those breeds.
You should know the differences between pure and mix breeds, the benefits of getting your new dog as an adult or puppy, and the behavior characteristics of all the different choices. It can seem overwhelming, but as a general rule, if it seems like a lot to learn and consider, then you are doing it right, and making a proper informed decision. The consequences of making a poor decision when selecting a pet dog could be very severe for you, your family, even the animal itself.
First, what are your needs and reasons for wanting a canine companion? Do you want a companion for yourself, your children, or an elderly adult? This is important, because the dog should be chosen based on the needs of the persons who will spend the most time with it. For instance, if you are acquiring a dog for your elderly mother, an active, large-breed, puppy would probably not be the best choice for obvious reasons. If the dog is to be the companion of an active family with children on a farm, or with a large space for running, then an active-breed puppy who will be able to grow, run, and play with children, would be a great pick.
Your canine companion has needs, too
Once you know who the dog’s main companions will be, you must take your budget into account. Owning a dog is expensive, there is no way around it, but just how expensive is highly dependent upon the age and breed of the dog also. You must take into account how much food the dog will need. The bigger breeds eat more, and younger dogs the same. Is the dog going to be mostly an indoor pet that you take for walks? This only works for smaller or less active breeds. If they are to be outdoors on their own, the cost of fences, electronic restraints or pens must be taken into account.
Another major concern is veterinarian costs (although K9 dogs will use departmental budgets). There is simply no way around it – the health of your new dog is paramount, and that costs money. The last important consideration is the temperament of the dog you chose, either pure-breed, or mixed. For instance, Pit Bulls, or Rottweilers are not the best breeds for domestication, although they do make wonderful protectors. Their natural tendency towards viciousness takes a very special hand to raise and train them. For families, the Golden Retriever is a great choice, active people like Boxers, and so on. Read as much as you can, ask people that know, and remember that it’s not always the breeder who is trying to sell you a dog.
Food for thought: don’t abuse a privilege
In the end, owning a dog is a privilege, it is a great responsibility and that should always be taken into account when considering the venture. There is nothing like the gleam in a child’s eye when given a puppy to hold for the first time, but far too many of those same puppies are eventually mistreated or abandoned when that first excitement wears off and the responsibility of caring for an animal that depends on you for everything becomes a reality.
Think your decision to add a canine companion through, give it the time and scrutiny a new pet deserves, and make sure that your decision is well-informed. With the existence of the Internet, finding all the information you need to make a smart choice is easy. With that information you can make a choice that is best for you, your family, and your future “man’s best friend” – this applies to law enforcement personnel, too.