I daresay that many are glad to have the last two years behind them and look forward to a new year ripe with potential. It is a time that we make resolutions for ourselves, but do not forget your four-legged family members when drawing up that list!
I found inspiration spread among several lists I read online. Writing for the AKC, Stacy Mason mentioned MEET YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS. She got in touch with her locally elected officials and talked with them about dog law matters of concern. She plans on staying in regular contact with them, reasoning that the more time she is in contact with them when there is not an issue going on, the better relationship she will have with them when needed. The AKC has a Legislative Toolbox available to make the task simple and enjoyable: www.akc.org/clubsdelegates/ government-relations/toolbox/
Mason also had a great idea that I need to add to my list, PREPARE FOR DISASTER. She reminds us to record all of our pets’ microchip numbers and stow the information in a disaster bug-out bag. The same information should go into your cell phone along with photos of each pet.
This is a good time of the year to assess your dog’s health by making an appointment for an ANNUAL VISIT WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN. Checking up on blood work, heartworms, internal parasites and thyroid function can help catch problems in the early stages when they may be more treatable.
Our dogs, like ourselves, enjoy learning something new. Regardless of age, TEACHING YOUR DOG A NEW TRICK can enhance your bond and put some pep in an old dog’s step. Search ‘AKC Trick Dog’ on YouTube for a slew of entertaining videos to give you inspiration for tricks beyond High Five and Roll Over.
Taking the new trick resolution one step further, JOIN A CLASS for you to both learn something new. Dip your toe into Scent Work, Barn Hunt, Rally, Agility, Tracking, Therapy. Even if you never end up competing for a title, the time spent together with people that have the same interests will make the time as valuable to you as it is for your dog.
MAKE, OR UPDATE, A DOG FIRST AID KIT. If you already have a kit, go through it to look for expired products or items that deteriorate with time like disposable gloves, or batteries in thermometers. If you do not have a kit already you can purchase a pre-made one online or make your own. The folks at Hills have a nice, comprehensive list at www.hillspet.com/dog-care/ healthcare/dog-first-aid-kit-checklist. Do not forget to include numbers in the kit for your veterinarian, the closest emergency clinic and the ASPCA’s Poison Control line (888) 426-4435. Place this bag close to your disaster bugout bag so you will be sure to grab it in case you need to evacuate.
Safeguard your pet by PURCHASING PET INSURANCE or STARTING AN EMERGENCY PET FUND. There is no worse feeling than not being able to care for your sick or injured pet due to monetary restrictions. Like human health insurance, pet insurance ranges from less costly catastrophic (high deductible plans that only cover extreme health or injury claims) to expensive all-inclusive plans. Do your homework as plans differ widely in what the will and will not cover, as well as in premiums, deductibles and yearly caps. If none of the options work for you or your budget, then set aside money in an emergency pet fund.
Make sure your dog’s future is secure by MAKING PLANS IN CASE YOU ARE INCAPACITATED OR DIE. Ideally, work with an attorney familiar with animal law to establish who will care for your dog and how/ if that care will be paid for. At the bare minimum add a handwritten addendum to your existing will’s location as well as with your veterinarian.
Wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy 2022!