The needs of a dog.

 This is one of my all time favorite companionship photos.  Taken on the beach in CT on a          very foggy morning.  I was about to leave and turned to see this woman and her dog.  A moment captured.

I was going to write about the things that we really need for our dogs this morning.  Once I pondered  the idea it quickly changed to what our dogs need.  That is entirely different from what we need for our dogs.  Dogs have very few needs; water, food and companionship.  That is pretty much it.  They are a simple creature with little needs but much to give.  There is a difference between a life and a life lived well.  Sometimes it's good to sit and think about the needs of our dogs; what they truly require  for a great life not just life itself.

Water - sounds simple right?  It is, but sadly many dogs don't have clean water.  I have four water bowls in my home.  I know that it is possible to forget to fill one occasionally so I have four.  Making sure that the water is fresh every day is easy for me.  Luke and Elsa won't drink it if it's been in the bowl too long.  They will stand with their head hanging over the bowl.  Pretty clear message if you are paying attention.  Or, Luke will come and stare at me until I ask him what he needs.

I bring a portable water bowl with me wherever we go so I'm always prepared to offer them a drink should they need it.  Luke makes me smile how much he loves his water after a walk.  I can barely get him into the back of the Xterra and he is digging around for the bowl.  Elsa is usually very thirsty as she is such an athletic girl.  They drink together and alone.  Elsa drinks for thirst; Luke drinks for the same reason but with a passion for a drink of water. 

Food - now there is a controversial word.  The whole idea around feeding dogs has changed drastically in recent years.  It is not just kibble anymore; no, food can be real food like what we eat.  My two eat real food just like I do , but different.  I try very hard to eat real food (meaning not processed) to stay healthy so I take the same approach when feeding Luke and Elsa.  As far as I am concerned we should feed the best that we can to our dogs.  Sure they can survive on low grade food just like we can but they will not thrive on it. 

Of course too much of a good thing is bad.  Being overweight can lead to all sorts of health issues for a dog so feed great food; just not too much. 

Resting - I didn't have resting on my list above of what dogs need.  Dogs can live fine without a bed, pillows or cushions.  The ground is where many dogs rest their head but it is not always comfortable.  Why not give them as much comfort as we can?  Heck just spend a night in a tent with no padding and you'll think differently about sleeping on the ground.  Many dogs choose to sleep on the ground; especially if it is hot out.  The ground may offer some coolness that a bed does not.  But on a regular day, toss a bed on the ground and see if your dog chooses the bed or the hard floor. 

I often hear people say "well, how spoiled are they?"  when they see a dog on a big cushy bed.  I don't understand this statement; why is giving a dog comfort considered spoiling?  They don't deserve to be comfortable because they are dogs?  I like my dogs to be very comfortable; as comfortable as I can offer.  As they age they need even more comfort.   I have beds in my bedroom, office, outside and in the kitchen.  So yes, a dog can sleep on the ground and never require a bed; but should they not have comfort?

Companionship - well I could go on and on about this one.  What is companionship, really? 

Companion - a person who is frequently in the company of, associates with or accompanies another. 

Okay, so if you hang our with your dog then you are their companion.  That said, there is a big difference in just being there and really being there.  That connection that I am always talking about.  Once you have it with your dog a life spent together turns into a great life shared.  A simple touch, a shared moment; maybe just a look lets you know that you are true companions.  The connection makes all the difference. 

You can lead a life by simply living the day to day or you can lead a great life.  The same goes for the life that you give your dog.  (Wow I sound like Oprah.)  Have a wonderful day with your dog.  :)