This is the time to celebrate our animals, and all they mean to us.  If we have had a bad day or good day at work or school, our pets are there to greet us with their unique personality, not judging us by how we greet them.  This is our chance to repay them for the pleasure they give us by taking extra good care of them.

There are thousands of abused and abandoned dogs, cats, and other animals in our country.  Many rescue foundations have taken these animals and nurtured them back to good health, hoping that some family will see how special they are, and give them a home.  During the month of October, animal shelters and rescues throughout our country hold special events to raise awareness about animal safety and protection, encouraging us to celebrate and respect animals by making a difference in their lives.  If you suspect an animal is being ignored or abused, call your local animal control officer, or ASPCA.

Several ways you can protect your pet are through feeding them healthy diets.  Too many snacks can make them sick.  Obesity can be a problem with cats or dogs, just the same as people.  Make sure their shots are current.  Have them neutered or spayed.  See that your dog gets exercise every day – taking them for a walk is a gift.  Just getting to sniff out a different territory means the world to them!

Because of the drought and wildfires in many parts of the U.S., we are still seeing more and more wildlife coming into populated areas.  They are desperate for food and water. It’s hard for deer, foxes, coyotes, and other wildlife to come that close to homes, but they are in dire need.  Hopefully, with rain and cooler weather, they will find ways to survive.  The good will of people can help by filling containers nearby with water or food.

The love and devotion of dogs toward their humans is most evident when observing a service dog in action.  It is fascinating to learn how much time is spent on training service dogs.  Golden Retrievers make excellent therapy dogs; those persons who wish to train their dogs to visit patients in hospitals, etc., must be certified and insured.  Guide dogs are the “eyes” for their owners.  Search and rescue dogs, as those used to find missing, injured, or dead, bomb and drug detection dogs, that work for the military and law enforcement play vital roles in the job for which they are trained.  They are considered their trainers’ partners, and carry out their responsibilities with no fear.  How wonderful to see these “teams in action.”

Most of us don’t own a “wonder-dog” or “wonder-cat,” but do you ever wonder what you’d do without them?  We have to give them up sometime, but while we have them, it’s up to us to see that they are cared for as any other member of our family.  Trips to the vet, being included in the “family fire escape plan”, or any other evacuation plan are just some of the things that little four-legged friend deserves.

I made a comment one day that I had to go let our “grandpups” out, and a friend replied, “why do you people want so many dogs?”  I replied, well, we only have one, but our entire family loves animals.  I feel sad for her that she doesn’t know how rewarding it is to have a “best friend” that gets to live with you every day.  Please be especially thoughtful to your pets this month; probably you already are.  If not, just look into those eyes and wonder what they think of you!  “Thanks, Buddy!”