This week we adopted a dog from the “Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter.” She’s a 7-year-old rat terrier and she was a stray. She had some health issues when she was found. A gash on her side needed stiches and her teeth needed a good cleaning. The shelter took care of all those things. We have no idea what her history is or how she was treated so there is always a risk bringing that type of dog into the house with other animals. As it turns out she’s a great dog. The first couple of days she found a “safe spot” in the back of one of the closets, but slowly she became more confident of her surroundings and became much more social both with us and the other animals.

Dog and cat owners vary in the on or off the furniture philosophy. Our animals, dogs and cats both, have always slept with us so we’ve always had king sized beds. Last night was the first night the new dog ventured out of her safe spot to join the other two dogs and one of the cats for our evening sleep. At 5:30 this morning I woke up with her standing on my chest.  Progress is not always quick and smooth.

Tony the Dog Whisperer

We considered four dogs in our adoption trek. Tony is the HOTV dog behaviorist and gave us the lowdown on the good, bad and ugly of the dogs we were considering. This was a tremendous, and completely unexpected, service of the shelter. They test the dog’s interaction with other dogs, how they are with cats and their general personality. As a result of this information about the various dogs and their behaviors it was easier for us, despite the emotional tug to take them all home, to finally pick the rat terrier as our newest dog. And, thanks in part, to Tony’s input it has turned out to be a great choice. Dogs, cats and humans are all getting along much faster than I had imagined.

What Types of People Like Dogs or Cats?

Most studies show that we gravitate toward the types of animals we grew up with. If you grew up on a farm or in the suburbs you might have had a Border collie, Lab or Shepard breed. In more urban areas smaller breeds or cats are more popular. Sixty-two percent of households in the US have a pet. Thirty-nine percent have dogs and 33 percent have cats.

Does Your Pet Preference Betray Your Political Leanings?

Some studies say yes. Dog owners are 50% more likely to be conservative while cat owners come down on the liberal side of the aisle. Twenty-eight percent of dog owners are more likely to be students while 17% of cat owners will have a college degree. But when it comes to both dog and cat owners they are both more than likely to have a college degree and both will normally find themselves in a long-term relationship.

Some Final Thoughts

This is the time of year that many people think about pets as gifts. Please don’t do this without making sure that the person receiving the gift really wants a pet. Pets live a long time and are entitled to a long happy life. Not chained up in the backyard with little human or animal contact.

For the true pet lover, pets become part of your family. For those people like me, who don’t have kids, they are your kids. Losing them hurts as much as losing any family member. So by all means support your local shelters both in Bozeman and Livingston. If you are not in a position to adopt a pet then drop off some pet food, toys or other items the shelter might need. They do a fantastic job and deserve our support.

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