Dogs, Dog lovers, Dog Owners, and Mental Health Issues

It is said that, “a dog is a man’s best friend”. My question is, what is the man to a dog?

Dog owners left right and center, but ill pass on this culture:

Where I am, almost everyone is a pet owner. Also, people here have a different pet-human relationship that I did not grow up seeing. Thus, I prefer not to adapt to their kind of pet owner. The biggest reason I keep pets at bay is that my living space is small. Oh, yes, veterinary services and pet food costs are beyond my current financial means.

Dog conversation with a Caribbean dog owner from my apartment:

On my way out today, it was a sunny day not to step out: I ran into a fellow Jamaican diaspora from my high-rise. As per usual, we exchanged kind greetings. He has a cute, healthy German Shepherd, and every time we meet randomly, it almost always becomes a part of our small talk.

Tinny apartments and mental health issues:

I admire those who can live with animals in apartments. Naturally, this issue came up in our conversation as I had a lot to say about the neighbor's dog looking healthy enough for me to pat it. Usually, I refrain from caressing any dog that looks unhealthy, unkempt, or depressed. Since I fear rabies. He laughed at this. He later shared Caribbean tales of people being bitten by dogs and catching all sorts of animal diseases.

Kids being cute can persuade us into doing anything:

At first, he had reservations about keeping a dog in a three-bedroom apartment with his family, but his children and their mother persuaded him to change his stance. He does say that having everyone contributing to the dog’s emotional, physical, and otherwise well-being makes having a pet less stressful. The man was kind enough to explain that his partner was a veterinary assistant and her job benefits pet ownership. Lastly, their kids are both below ten. The family accumulates lovely memories outside playing with the dog friend. It looks like this setup works.

Leash your canine mate and pick their litter off the winter ground, please:

We then spoke about a dog owner that does not leash his animal. The issue here was that the man and his pet do not look as if you would be safe around them. Yes, looks can be deceiving, but who would dare? This conversation became a winter issue too. It is precise that a significant portion of dog owners does not pick after their pets (nature’s call). We agreed that this reality makes enjoying walks trickier! We talked longer than average today, but the conversation left me wondering if every pet owner was neurologically fit for the task.

Now that I am home, I am very interested in reading pet regulations and advice to verify our concern for healthy pets and public safety.

1. Buying a dog is a big decision:

According to pets plus us, buying or adopting a dog is a big decision. Before you fall for the heart-melting eyes of a new puppy, take some time to decide what kind of dog is right for you, how dog ownership will affect your lifestyle, and what your responsibilities will be as a dog owner in Ontario. https://www.petsplusus.com/node/645

2. Deciding on the breed and committing to its wellness:

Although there are many types of dogs to choose from, when you consider keeping a dog, try to match your wishes with your pragmatic daily life. Let us break this into segments below.

2.a Adopting a dog ranges between $0–600.

2.b Feeding a dog costs between $30-$50

2. c Startup supplies (bowls, bed/crate, leashes, tags, toys, etc): $50 to $300

2.d Vet and vaccinations: Dog: $50 to $300

2.e Preventative medical (heartworm/ticks/etc): $50-$100

2. f Spay or neuter: $20 to $300

2. g Licensing: Dog: $10 to $20

2. h Microchip: $50

………………..Total One-time Costs for Dogs: $260 to $1,780…………

Source: https://www.moneyunder30.com/the-true-cost-of-pet-ownership

Canine Mental Health:

A happy dog is a happy dog. What may result in a pet exhibiting loss of enthusiasm?

a. Depression

Like humans, some dogs can occasionally suffer from bouts of depression. Although dogs do not have the same capacity for reasoning as we humans, it doesn’t mean they cannot experience depression. Kindly see the following video on diagnosing dog depression and remedying that situation.Thanks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5dW5KArq0I

How to tell depression signs in dogs

When dogs are depressed, they often appear sad and withdrawn. They can even lose interest in play.

Causes of Depression in Dogs

  1. Physical Illness
  2. Grief
  3. Environmental Changes
  4. Fear
  5. Separation anxiety ( are you gone a lot? Some dogs become depressed if their owner’s are gone a lot.)

Source https://www.thesprucepets.com/do-dogs-get-depression-1112512

What to do if a dog is depressed:

  1. An Early Walk. If you can take your dog for a walk in the morning, when the sun is shining, it should help him throughout the day.
  2. Extra Time Together. Spend extra time with your dog.
  3. New Experiences. Take your dog away to a new place.
  4. Treats. Take some special treats with you when you go for a walk.
  5. A New Toy. As well as distracting him, a new toy might make your dog happy.
  6. A New Friend. Dogs are social animals.

Source https://pethelpful.com/dogs/how-to-get-a-dog-to-cheer-up

So far, the list looks easy to accomplish, although treating a depressed dog reacquires its best friend to be mentally stronger!

b. Military dogs & PTSD

b.1 Just as human soldiers can experience post-traumatic stress disorder, so too can canine soldiers.

b.2 Countless military dogs have returned from the Middle East conflict exhibiting the same heartbreaking behaviours that so often plague battle-experienced humans.

b.3 Though all too often, dogs with PTSD are immediately euthanized upon their return to the United States, more and more veterinarians are beginning to develop effective training methods to help dogs in their emotional recovery.

See https://www.onlinepsychologydegree.info/lists/information-mental-disorders-in-animals/

Summary:

Dogs are our best friends, and they are also very friendly. Thus, when considering one, let’s try to strike a balance between our yearning for a pet and our mental, social, economic aspects first. Unloved pets look sad and continue to suffer their fate helplessly. Should we do our part by holding dog owners accountable, even by calling animal services if need be? What are your thoughts on this matter? Please leave your comments, and thank you for your time.

I am of southern African descent living in Ottawa, Canada. My academic qualifications are law, human rights and social justice, global action and engagement.

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