Dog for 1 hour: how Kirovohrad region activists help to prepare for a pet
Activists have launched an initiative that provides an opportunity to prepare and provide all the information to those wanting to get a four-legged friend. The non-shelter takes care of abandoned and street animals and looks at the root of the problem. You can help too. How? Rubryka explains
All parents eventually face this situation. Kids are first fascinated by other people's cats and dogs, and then, after realizing that pets can live in any family, including their own, they ask parents: Please, please buy a dog!
Saying "no" or agreeing at once is everyone's business, but dog handlers usually advise parents to make an agreement with their child to take a time-out to consider and soberly assess the situation. As a result, they either refuse the idea or, if parents and kids do make a decision to get a pet, they can agree on the first joint steps. After all, a dog is not a toy, but a living creature. It requires care, attention, and a lot of time for upbringing.
In the city of Oleksandriia, Kirovohrad region, volunteers came to help dads and moms. The local animal shelter "Kotosimia-kotodruzi" offers parents to test their children first, when they ask for a pet, and to see if their offspring will have enough inspiration, strength, and patience.
In the shelter, where cats and dogs are rescued from the streets, they teach children to take care of them, walk and understand the intricacies of communication with furry friends.
Pet for 1 hour isn't entertainment, but responsibility
The "Pet for 1 hour" initiator, Tetiana Tyshchenko, stresses that inviting Oleksandriia residents to walk shelter dogs doesn't entail an entertaining idea, much less a commercial one. First, volunteers take care of their wards, delighted with the attention and communication. Children, young couples, and adults come for free walks in the park with tailed companions. Children are especially happy to communicate with playful "tails." In addition, activists talk to kids about the distinctive features of the dog's worldview, learn to behave properly with animals, and involve them in caring for and feeding pets. Dogs, the shelter offers to have a fun exercise with, are treated from parasites, socialized, affable, and friendly.
However, the caretaker of the house for the four-legged is against it being called a shelter. Tetiana Tyshchenko claims that the team of her eared wards is an actual family, and she and her friends-assistants are temporary guardians.
The house, which Tatiana inherited from her grandmother, currently has over 60 cats and several dogs. Each of them has its own sad story. Someone fell under a car, became homeless because of crooked owners, was attacked by kin, or abused by a person.
But, according to Tatiana herself, most of them result from irresponsible behavior, at first glance, of quite decent citizens.
"Here's Frist," she points to a large dog with warm eyes, "I picked him up from the street. He was wearing a collar. He looked scared and confused, so I decided he was lost. I brought him to my house to feed and calmly look for the owners. I found the owners… a month and a half later. It turned out that they released Frist just like that, "to walk with the girls." It didn't worry them that the dog alone on the walk may harm someone, injure himself, and most importantly, that a few months of walking and "matchmaking" on the streets of Oleksandriia will lead to a couple of three stray puppies no one needs."
It's a red-haired Jean. He came with a rope around his neck, rubbed to blood.
And this little black dog is Milly. She was found in the sewer; she was completely unfit for life on the street. "Probably," Tatiana says, "some granny who took care of her died, and the descendants showed no longer needed pet to the door."
"It's neat, not where they clean, but where no animals procreate"
It's no secret that, despite all the humane and inhumane ways to regulate the number of stray dogs, their number on the streets isn't decreasing. People are afraid of dog packs because it's almost impossible to predict the behavior of stray dogs.
If we dig deeper into this problem, we can say one thing with confidence. The reason stray animals exist is ourselves, humans. Most stray dogs and cats came along because animals' owners threw their pets out into the street, or because of self-walking, that isn't uncommon in small towns and villages.
Sometimes, parents who rashly surrender to tears and requests of their children to buy or even take a dog or cat from a shelter are completely unprepared to end up with an animal for themselves. Of all children, parents take pets for, literally, a few percent actually take care of them on their own: feed, clean, wash, and walk. Often the poor thing, no one wants to mess with, passed from hand to hand, or appears on the street.
That's why Tetiana Tyshchenko considers promoting spay surgeries for dogs and cats to be the major component of her activity. "We'll never solve the problem of shelters as a phenomenon," Tatiana says, "as long as stray animals breed uncontrollably on our streets. We can build hundreds of shelters, and they will always be full. We must address the issue at the root with total humane spaying. I advise you not to breed extra animals if you won't keep them yourself."
Tetiana herself is actively engaged in spaying cats and dogs in Oleksandriia. Kotosimia activists have to have almost all animals passing through them operated at their own expense. Donations from social networks and special donation boxes installed in the city's pet stores help a little.
"We have a very economical budget," Tatiana says, "1500 UAH per week is to feed over fifty cats, about 20 kittens, and 7 dogs. Plus the cost of spay surgeries, if we get new animals. We also do everything to find a new family. We can resettle the animal all over Ukraine. Write to us, or call. One of the cats was even taken to Poland through our Facebook page. And recently one of our dogs found a new family thanks to our "Pet for 1 hour" initiative. People who walked him loved and accepted this difficult, wretched dog soul. Such cheerful stories inspire me a lot."
If you decided to have a dog
Many parents don't mind and even want to get a dog as soon as possible so the child gets used to taking care of others and taking responsibility. Thus, they imagine the idyllic image of the tender friendship between their kid and a puppy. So that the dream doesn't turn into disappointment, you need to consider everything like the age of your child, breed of a dog, maintenance conditions, and many other things.
- If your kid hasn't turned five years old yet, it's too early to think about a dog. Young children perceive a puppy as a living toy. They don't understand that they're causing pain by pulling its ears or tail or paws. Defending, the animal can show aggression and injure the child. You can reduce the risk, but you'll have a double burden: raising a baby and training a dog. Not everyone can handle it. In short, if you aren't a dog trainer, it's better to wait with introducing a dog until the child turns six or seven years old.
- Though most people prefer puppies, taking an adult dog is also a good option. At least, its character has already developed, and there'll be no surprises expecting you. Watch the dog and talk to the owner.
- Even if your child dreams of a specific breed, the choice and decisions are yours. Evaluate your capabilities well. Not taking a dog is better than taking a dog and suffering for six months and giving it up. It'll be a huge psychological trauma for the child.
- You can take a dog from a shelter, thus giving your child an example of kindness, mercy, and humane treatment of the animal. But prepare yourself for probably having additional treatment costs, and giving a lot of love, kindness, and patience. But the reward is absolute devotion and trust.
- Keep in mind that your kid will promise to do everything for a new pet when asking you to get a dog. Don't count on it and look at things seriously. It's dangerous to let a child under ten walk a dog alone. Your kid can't keep the big dog on the leash, and the small one can't protect. The way out is to have a walk together: you, your kid, and the dog. An extra forty minutes a day spent outdoors is likely to benefit everyone. How can the time spent with your kid also be excessive?
- You can also involve your child in caring for the dog. You'll have many things to do, enough and to spare like combing, washing paws after a walk, cooking and putting food in a bowl, making sure that the dog always has water, its bed is clean, and toys aren't scattered all over the house. You and your child can teach a dog simple commands. Any person who is not a trainer can do it. Yes, it requires patience, endurance, and responsibility, but these are the qualities you would like to develop in your child.