Modern dogs have it pretty good compared to their ancestors. These days, doting pet parents (self included) lavish their beloved pets with high quality diets, a steady supply of new toys, beautiful collars and leashes and even stylish outfits. Most enroll their dogs in some sort of dog training program. Many send their pets to daycare. There’s even pet insurance to help pet parents afford the best possible medical care for their furry loved ones in the event of an unexpected accident or serious illness.
Knowing that I wasn’t the only dog-crazed lady in town, I compared notes with two Arlington residents who also happen to be students at my dog training school.
Regina Pontes shares her home with an eight-month-old Zuchon (half Bichon Frise and half Shih-Tzu) named CB. When asked what a typical day was like for CB, non-stop play is what I gathered from Regina’s reply: “While CB does his own throw and fetch game to keep his puppy energy up, he loves to have attention from the family and his BFF Lucky! Lucky and CB are inseparable whenever they get together. They run, chase, tackle, stop, rest and start all over again. CB loves Fridays! He hasn't yet associated that annoying song with Pawwtopia where he goes for all day doggie day camp.”
For Pontes, daycare has another benefit besides the fun that CB gets out of it. “It's important for CB's socialization and also allows him to learn to interact with other people and dogs in a controlled environment,” Pontes said. “Security is key…At Pawwtopia, dogs are monitored by a person in their presence full time. That's invaluable as a play can get out of control on a dime."
Enrolling CB in a formal dog training course not only allowed additional opportunities for CB to socialize with other dogs and overcome his shyness around people, but it also played an important role in household safety. “I found it important that he heed commands from my parents who take care of him during the day,” Pontes explained. “This is for his safety due to their limited mobility. I did not want to risk unforeseen instances where CB got out of the house and wouldn't pay attention when instructed to return.”
Pet insurance is a necessity, not a luxury, in her view. “While some believe it's wasting money, for me personally, I felt reassured that should an unforeseen accident or illness arise, I'd have some leeway to make decisions on the best care my pet can have,” Pontes added. “Beware, however, that most insurance companies consider your pet ‘property’ and every year when the policy is renewed, ‘pre-existing conditions’ are not covered. I found out the hard way on that issue. Research, research, research before you invest in a quality pet insurance program.”
Pontes also offered further advice to fellow pet parents. “When investing in the training and care of your pet, be sure to research and read reviews,” she encouraged. “The pet industry is a $46 billion a year industry because we love our pets. Always get referrals. As a quality specialist by profession, I'm all about making sure I get the best quality for my investment in my dog and his health and safety.”
I also checked in with pet parent Tiffani Sabatino. Not wanting her dog Damon to be home alone all day while she is at work, Sabatino sends her dog to Pawwtopia’s Doggy Daycamp Monday through Friday. Upon awakening from his daily post-daycamp power nap, Sabatino said, Damon enjoys a long walk around Arlington with her.
In her free time, Sabatino also takes Damon to explore different dog parks where he can meet new friends. Hiking various New England trails and practicing their dog training exercises are also favorite bonding activities. Sabatino said she and Damon go everywhere and do everything together when she’s not working.
I asked Sabatino what she does with Damon when she goes away for vacation or just needs a night out without him. “I always plan vacations where dogs are welcome,” Sabatino answered. “If I need a night out, I arrange for Damon to sleep at grandma’s and grandpa’s house."
Gone are the days when a dog was “just a dog.” These days, some dogs lead lives that are nearly as full of activities as those of their humans. I, personally, wouldn’t have it any other way. A tired dog is a good dog, as dog trainer and author Brian Kilcommons once wrote. A happy dog is a good dog, I might add.