Last week, a very good friend of mine came down to visit me here at the Jersey shore.  We enjoyed a great talk on the beach that revolved around her kids.  Her oldest, a marine pilot has just been stationed in San Diego, and from there, who knows…Her middle is training to be a Vermont state trooper, and her youngest is doing just fine at Drexel U in Philadelphia.  After we talked about her kids, the talk turned to my kid, Portuguese water dog, Hooper, and my friend’s two fur-children Bailey and Morgan.  Beagle Bailey came into my friend’s life after her husband rescued him from a home that no longer wanted him.  He had been relegated to the basement, howling for attention until my friend’s husband offered to take him off their hands.  Morgan, a young shepherd mix was a rescue from a local shelter. 

Bailey is now 12, and is blind and nearly deaf.  Morgan, who up until now did not want anything to do with this “annoying” older dog, has become his protector.  “Did you ever hear of a dog becoming a seeing eye dog for another?” my friend asked me.  I hadn’t, but I’m not surprised.  Morgan, as if sensing Bailey’s troubles, now stands by his side, moving slowly so that Bailey can find his way around.  I enjoyed this story, and it confirms the way dogs really can be man’s best friend, while remaining true to their own. 

But are we really a dog’s best friend? This morning, as I checked in on www.petfinder.com, I was taken with a little Havanese in need of a home.  The link brought me to a shelter in the south.  I e-mailed them and asked about the status of this dog.  Thankfully, the dog was in the process of finding a good home, but I was informed that over 1,000 dogs in South Carolina will most likely be put down in the very near future because there just are not enough homes for them.  And that’s just in one state.  That is a very sobering statistic.  I asked them, “What is the answer?”  They replied that the answer lies in the education of dog owners.  How many people acquire pups, and adult dogs, without making any effort to become acquainted with the breed of the dog, or in the case of  apparent mixed-breeds, try to ascertain the type of dog they have invited into their home?  How many take the time to try and train their dogs?  And what about all the unwanted pups that come into the world because their owners were too cheap, or just didn’t think spaying or neutering were important?

Research for my book shows me this has been a problem in our nation for over 80 years.  The way things are going, it looks like I could write about this topic forever….

In the coming weeks, posts will include an interview with dog authors, Jon Katz, Steve Duno, and more…

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