Hello world!

I hope you had the bestest of Christmas celebrations and a firework-free New Years. I got some really nice presents for Christmas. Ya know a huge parma ham bone which I devoured on Christmas Eve…and a lovely rawhide bone from our family in Bavaria (thanks for thinking of me guys!) And on New Years I had my least panicked firework watching event thus far. Yes, I had to get up on the sofa with mom and have her hold me while I panted like I’d just run a marathon. But seriously, fireworks are just awful. And to those punks that keep setting them off randomly still, day and night…I will find you. And when I do, I will lick you until you beg for mercy!

On a different note, I’ve managed to luck into a couple play dates which is always awesome. There’s a dog in our neighborhood named Chico who comes from the streets of some far off country. Now I don’t know the exact circumstances as to how and why he ended up being adopted by a family in Germany…but I can assure you it was not the perfect fit.

Chico is a runner and he breaks out of his yard on an almost daily basis. He goes to visit the ladies in town that are in heat, the butcher to see if they’ve got anything tasty for him, our house just because we’re along the way…and if we lived in the middle of nowhere, that probably wouldn’t be such a big deal. But the street in front of our house is super busy and there’s a very real chance that he will one day be hit by a car. In fact, Chico has a pretty pronounced limp and I’m not really certain that he had that limp a few years ago when we first met. So he may have gotten hit once already but survived.

street dogs

Chico’s humans are an elderly couple who are very nice, but they can’t take Chico on the very long walks that he needs to keep him from yearning to run free. I don’t even think Chico is the youngest of dogs anymore (says the Newfie about to turn 5!) but he still just loves to roam and wander.

As I mentioned before, Chico’s really not that smart when it comes to traffic laws and who has the right of way. I tried telling him that the cars and especially the big trucks that drive down the main street about 2 blocks for his house will not be able to stop quickly enough if he darts into the road after something. But I don’t really know if he was paying attention during the conversation because he stopped to make about 15 pees on every tree in sight…distraction was a distinct possibility.

Now you might be thinking that this is the strangest thing ever; someone in Germany having a dog from the streets of Macedonia, or Greece or Portugal. Unfortunately, it’s more common than you’d think. People often go on vacation and fall in love with some dog off the streets (wow, almost sounds like a trashy romance novel.) They feed the dog for the two weeks that they are there visiting and then they wonder what to do next. Do they find a way to bring the dog home? What happens if they just go off and leave the dog? How can they possibly leave behind that cute puppy face??

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t have a heart. And taking a dog off the streets might help a bit with the issue at hand. But honestly, there are plenty of dogs in your home country that need good homes also. And unless you know with certainty that your street dog is about to be put down, you are usually better off just leaving the dog there.

Instead of feeding it every day, what about taking the dog to a veterinarian or an animal shelter and paying for the dog to get shots, deworming and even a nip and tuck down below? The only way to keep the growth of the street dog population under control is to prevent unwanted matings. And by making sure at least one more dog is immunized, you will be reducing that dog’s risk of contracting rabies or contracting heartworms.

When you feed a street dog every day, you are building his dependency on you. But what happens when you leave suddenly? That dog now has to find his way back to the street life and figure out where his meals are going to come from.

There are actually organizations here in Europe that organize the rescue of street dogs and bring them into countries like Germany, Switzerland and so on to be connected with loving homes. While this (hopefully) ensures the dog ends up with a loving forever home after that, the real problem needs to be addressed in the countries where the dogs are coming from. People either don’t know about the necessity of spaying and neutering, or they just can’t afford it. I’m not spayed (which you’ll seen me talk about in my love calls while in heat) but I’m also not allowed or encouraged to go roaming the streets whenever I want — unfortunately! And until people start to learn that they must take responsibility for their pets and not just put them out on the street when they’ve had enough, things will never change.

So I hope that if you find yourself surrounded by stray and homeless animals in need of care and medical attention, you will think twice before you just start handing over food. Those table scraps may prolong that dog’s life for a little while, but is it really going to make it better?

If you’d like to learn more about helping stray dogs in need in developing countries, have a look at the following links:

Hope 2011 is off to a pawsome start! Oh, and I’ve scored a cool giveaway for my furry friends which will start this Friday, January 7th! So be sure to come by and enter!!