As you consider your goals for the New Year, take a minute to consider what your dog might want from you in 2024. As you fill in the calendar of a new year, please include your dog, or family of pets you care for, regarding their needs and how to include them in your daily life.

 A Dog’s New Year Resolution List might look something like this:

(1). Take me for daily walks.  I adore the outdoors and opportunity to use my superpower sense of smell to “process” the world. It gives me great pleasure to diagnose the scents around the ground. Please don’t pull me along because you’re in a hurry.  Let me stop and sniff the bushes, light poles and fire hydrants that command my nosy attention. It may be the only activity for me today, so let’s make it count.

(2). If we can’t go for a walk, can we play an indoor game instead? I like spending time with you, so let’s play hide and seek, toss some balls or squeaky toys around or teach me a new trick. New toys, entertainment puzzles or a treat-stuffed Kong will help keep me occupied when you’re not home and I’m alone.

I would love it if I could go with you when you run errands.  I can’t stay in the car alone, but I hear Home Depot and many other dog-friendly stores open their doors to 4-legged patrons, so let me join you on those jaunts.

(3). If you notice that I have bad breath, I may need a teeth cleaning. Hard chew bones might help detract the plaque and keep me gleefully occupied but brushing my teeth daily will help keep my canines clean and avoid losing them later in my life.

(4). I don’t like going to the doctor’s office any more than you do yet monitoring my health with annual (or semi-annual) well exams should be on our calendar this year, especially if I’m 5 or older.  I’m aging faster than you are, so periodic check-ups, not just routine vaccinations, will allow me to enjoy your company longer if something exists that needs preemptive attention.

(5). Please keep my coat clean and debris free.  Mats are uncomfortable and over-grown toenails make it harder for me to walk.  When you brush me, it’s like a massage!  Let’s do that often.

(6). Make sure I have proper identification. I might discover accidental outdoor freedom and don’t want to get lost and not find my way home to you.

(7). I appreciate that you let me sleep indoors and have provided a soft bed to call my own (sometimes in yours!). If you must travel without me, please choose a cage-free dog boarding option or a loving pet sitter to care for me in our home.

(8). I need routine!  If something is upsetting you, I will comfort you.  If we both get caught up in a life-changing moment, please remember that I need to be comforted to.

(9). Please feed me the highest quality dog food you can afford.  I appreciate that budget is a concern, yet that big feed bag with mystery ingredients isn’t the best buy for my long-term health. As I mature, I need dietary changes to coincide with my growing and changing needs.  I’ll do my best to enjoy the same food every day, yet variety is the spice of life (so I’ve heard).

(10). If you rescued me, please know that I am truly grateful.  I may need some time to get past my past hurt.  Be patient and know that I want to attach again.  Do not detach from me during this transitional period nor give up on me, as others might have done before you and I met.

We all need to feel wanted, protected and loved. Our human-animal bond is not only reciprocal in love and adoration, yet one of the best relationships we can have in its most simplistic form.

Dogs are authentic and without pretense. To quote Josh Billings: “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”

Resolve to make each day the best it can be for you and them.


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photo attribution: Cole Keister on unsplash