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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

National Pet Week: My Puppy Pledge

By Donald F. Smith, Cornell University
Posted May 3, 2011

Join me in celebrating the 30th anniversary of National Pet Week (May 1-7) as we rededicate ourselves to the responsibilities associated with having a pet.


Beau, my 14-year-old PUPPY
 Over 70 million dogs are members of households, reaching every community of the United States with love and affection. As new puppies are added to families this week, our children should consider the obligations and enjoyment of having a dog.

One way to do that is to understand the meaning of the word, P-U-P-P-Y.

“P” is for pleasure, that effervescent joy that radiates from a well-cared-for pet. Dogs love to please, craving attention and play. In return, they provide friendship and unconditional love.

“U” stands for utility. Dogs were made to work: to pull a sled, to guide the blind, to fetch a stick, to swim, to protect the weak. Make sure you give your dog lots of exercise, which he or she needs for emotional as well as physical health.

The second “P” stands for presence. As you admire your dear puppy, also look around you and see all of nature’s creatures, both wild and domesticated. Your puppy is part of a world where animals of every kind fill an essential role in nature.

Puppy’s next “P” is perseverance. Acquiring a pet carries the obligation to take care of your dog, to train, to groom, to assure proper nutrition, to provide quality health and veterinary care.

Most importantly, it all comes down to you, the final letter of PUPPY.  Getting a pet will change your life. It will bond you with joy, with friendship, with commitment, and – yes – occasionally with sorrow. Because dogs have a shorter life span than people, they often leave us before we are ready.

As you welcome your puppy into your home and your heart, may you acquire a fresh and personal perspective on the wonder of animals and the world that we share with our pets.

Dr. Smith invites comments at dfs6@cornell.edu

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