The dog days of summer are upon us. With that, there is also the 20th anniversary of Pet Sitters International's self-declared "Take Your Dog To Work Day" on June 22. While we can't assure that your employer may allow you to bring a dog to work, we can all but guarantee there will be a renewed interest in bringing a furry friend into the household after this day, which is why we've compiled a list of things to think about for new pet owners.
For first time pet owners, or for people who haven't had a dog in the home since Madonna was relevant, here's a refresher list of things you might want to think about before making this lifestyle change.
Making the Choice to Adopt:
Adopting a dog from a shelter is a noble action. There is no right or wrong choice about which canine to bring home — just make sure that the breed, size and age are the right fit for everyone in the house. With that said, adopting one of our friends in need has many benefits.
Julie Kuenstle, director of communications and marketing with the Houston SPCA, says, "When adoption takes place, you save a life. You give an animal a second chance at life. Then, you take your dog for a walk, and you’re excited about your new family member. Now, you’re sharing the awesome blessing of adoption with your community. You’re doing more than giving an animal a second chance. You’re also helping your community by sharing all the benefits of adoption."
She continues, "People don’t realize that after they adopt an animal what it does for them. It’s very well known that animals have a tendency to lower our blood pressure and make us calm. That’s why they bring animals to veterans who have PTSD. Plus, they’re so darn cute."
Kuenstle also says not to discount senior dogs. "Senior dogs are awesome because they’re already potty trained and in a routine. They have gone through the puppy stage of chewing everything, and they are a great choice if you want a dog that’s more chill and wants to hang out."
The Houston SPCA also sets up the pet owner for a successful life with Fido. Included in the price of adoption is spaying/neutering, a microchip, a first bag of dog food, a wellness evaluation and all age appropriate vaccinations. For $95 to $195 a pop, depending on certain factors, that's quite the bargain.
While this day is mostly about the dogs, the Houston SPCA also helps find homes for cats, horses, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, small rodents, pet birds and farm animals. See more information on their web site.
Opting for a Dog Trainer:
Mandy Reiss with Man's Best Friend at 2331 Bingle says dogs might need some training if they exhibit behaviors like excessive jumping, play biting, pulling on the leash, general bad manners, housebreaking issues or getting excited around other dogs.
"We teach you how to communicate with your dog. We teach you what well-behaved dogs do, and we teach [the human] how to communicate with the dog. It's about 10 percent dog training and 90 percent human training. Dogs are really simple. Humans need more work."
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The training at Man's Best Friend takes place over two weeks, but the job is up to the caretakers to continue the conditioning at home so the dog learns right from wrong for the long run.
"People train their pets around the clock, 24-hours a day, day-in and day-out," she says. "We give the dog 14 days of education, and you have to go home and finish it. Training a dog takes years and years, and if you don't keep up with it, the dog goes back to the way it originally was."
When selecting a trainer, there are many options, so Reiss says the most important things to look for are experience and passion from the trainer.
Toto sometimes likes to take a break, too. The Houston Press runs the occasional article about pet-friendly patios every so often, like this one in 2017 from Gwendolyn Knapp. While this is not an exhaustive list of all the great places to take the pooch, there are a few more restaurants and bars to add to the list that Beethoven might roll over for.
Just chew on that one for a minute...you can actually take your fur baby to a bar, and no one will second guess your decisions.
El Pueblito, 1423 Richmond Avenue: This Latin American-Caribbean fusion restaurant offers cabana-style dining at a price your wallet will like. The freshly cooked meals and mouth-watering margaritas will be the perfect compliment to taking Spot out for the afternoon.
Little Woodrow's, 2306 Brazos: Grab a few brewskis and watch the game, or play giant Jenga and cornhole. This pet-savvy patio even comes with complimentary dog dishes and water. They really know how to take care of all animals, both the two-legged and the four-legged types.
Rodeo Goat, 2105 Dallas: This newly opened restaurant has all the beer and burgers imaginable. We recommend the Sugar Burger, which comes with candied bacon, peaches, caramelized onions, arugula and jalapeño jam. But really, you can choose anything from the wide selection of grilled foods, and you can't go wrong. Who has met a burger they didn't like at this joint? No one! And Spot can chill on the spacious patio with you as well, so everyone wins.
Tony's Corner Pocket, 817 W Dallas: Situated at the meeting point between Midtown, Montrose and Downtown, this neighborhood bar is the perfect place to wet your whistle while enjoying one of the best views of Houston's downtown skyline. We hear patio bartender Cris is known for his handsome mug, his stiff shots and his excellent customer service. The DJ ain't that bad, either. Plus, Scooby will love being outdoors and with the people.
Truck Yard, 2118 Lamar: Bring the kids and the furry companion. This Dallas import offers everything from cheesesteaks to brews and booze to live music - all in an outdoor venue that looks like the adult version of a festive carnival. Just one tidbit of advice: They go 21+ after 9 p.m., so be sure to take the kids home, or make it simple and hire a sitter for the night.
Our best friends need a little personal time to hang out with their own species, which is a great way to socialize them as well. The City of Houston has a slew of dog parks - or bark parks, as well like to call them - where you can let Sparky run around with his pals. Check out the website for a list of locations.
There are just a few rules to follow to keep the animal kingdom in check, and here's the short list to pay attention to:
1. If you've ever watched a Judge Judy episode, you should know this one: Owners are liable for damage or injury inflicted by their dog.
2. Dogs with a known history of dangerous behavior are prohibited. Immediately leash your dog and leave the park if your dog exhibits aggression. (Seriously....don't be that girl who keeps her bully dog in the bark park....no one likes her.)
3. Dogs must be leashed before entering and upon leaving the dog park and must be leashed in the transition area.
4. Owners are responsible to clean up if their dog drops a deuce.
5. Make sure your dog is up to date on his vaccines. You just never know what is lurking out there with the other animals. It's basically "the condom rule" for dogs.
Fostering a Pet:
Bringing Rex into his forever home is a wonderful action, but not everyone has the lifestyle to accommodate a pet. Luckily, there is another option: fostering.
Kuenstle says, "Fostering is a great choice for anyone who is interested in making a difference in an animal's life, and it’s an opportunity for you to see if you’re prepared to become a permanent pet parent."
The SPCA requires caretakers to be at least 18 years old and to go through training, and the organization supplies any additional needs for the animals.
"We have fosters who are committed to the program, and they work with animals who need medication or bandage changing…and some fosters just provide a quiet area in their home for a new mom who is nursing her babies," she says. "We provide all they need to be a foster parent. We provide all the medication or the bedding. There’s all degrees of fostering, and we welcome anyone who is interested in the fostering program."
Kuenstle also says there is not a time requirement for the foster program. It can be for a weekend or for a few months. A coordinator with the organization works with each foster parent to make sure they are matched with the animal in the ways that make the most sense for both.
Summing It Up:
Overall, whether they be big, small, fluffy or short-haired...whether they be in our lives for a weekend or for a decade, dogs bring joy. Take Your Dog To Work Day is their special day, so let them enjoy it. Let them spend a day at the office, and if not, then bring them a couple of treats when you get home from work. After all, it's a dog's world, and we just live in it.