Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A dog is a dog is a dog

I was going to start off this blog with the statement "I love animals". Well that's probably obvious, but I don't think it says enough. I could say I love life, which is also true. But more what I want to say is that I am amazed by life. Perhaps that is why I am in medicine. Just thinking of all the chemical reactions and electrical impulses that occur in every living thing fascinates me. So as time goes by, I'm sure you will see me celebrate everything from elephants to amoebas, but today I am celebrating dogs.

Why dogs and why now? Well get ready folks because the Last Great Race on Earth starts this Saturday.
The Iditarod! I love this event. It intrigues me to no end. And this thing we call the internet makes it entirely too easy to follow the journey. Nothing like sitting snug in a warm house reading about the Alaskan wilderness. If I had better cold tolerance, I would really consider being part of the volunteer veterinary team. Instead, I'll just follow along from home. / CC BY-SA 2.0

The race pairs a human being with a team of dogs. It requires great athleticism from both (the closet athlete inside me loves this!). It requires physical and mental toughness. And to do it well and succeed, it requires a musher that is so in tune with the needs of his or her dogs that they are almost one.

Unfortunately, the race is not without its critics mostly in the form of animal rights groups talking about inhumane treatment of sled dogs. Does this happen? Yes it does. Does that mean that those who do it right should have their pastime, their livelihood, their passion taken away from them. I think not. Not any more than driving a car being banned because of the few who drive drunk. These comparisons are endless.

Instead I choose to celebrate the working dog. There is nothing I enjoy more than watching and reading and hearing about dogs at work. The dog is a remarkable animal. In only 10,000 years give or take, man has created such diversity in the dog through selective breeding. From the sled dog to the hunting hound to the herding shepherd to the retriever and on and on. The bond between man and dog runs deep. And dogs seem to be at their happiest when they are at work. They are happiest when they have a "job". I think that is where we fail our dogs sometimes. We don't give them something to do. We don't let them do what they are bred to do. We don't let them be dogs. / CC BY-SA 2.0

So go hug your dog today. Let him or her snuggle in your bed if you wish. Spoil them. Love them. But please give them something to do with their life. Take them for a long walk. Play Frisbee. Find an agility class. Enter a dog show. Hunt. Herd. Retrieve. The list is endless. Celebrate your dog's life.

And I hope you enjoy following along online on the Iditarod Trail for the next two weeks as much as I am going to enjoy it. The stories. The journey. The wilderness. Dogs and man together. As it should be.


  1. I have one Frisbee dog, our JRT. She is the hunter in our pack, too. If it moves across our yard or flies too low, it's a death sentence. The others chose to live their lives at my feet. I have another JRT that when we go outside and I don't see him, I look over at the patio furniture and he's sitting in a lawn chair. Smart dog really, his feet never get hot! I have five dogs, not intended, but I feel like we get the dogs that need us most. I love your blog! Keep up the great posts!

  2. Thanks so much for the kind words. You sound like a true dog lover. JRT's are awesome little dogs. The other vet in our office has one that is the sweetest little dog on 4 paws. Dr.Di.