Our family's animals decided to write their New Year's resolutions for 2013.
Nutmeg, our cat, was going to participate but found some sunlight on the floor and decided it was time for a nap, leaving the resolution writing in the capable paws of the dogs in the family.
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Kasey, my dog, and his cousins -- Lily, a Chihuahua; Bentley, a puppy mill rescue Chihuahua mix; and the newest member of our family, Jersey, a 4-pound rescue Chihuahua -- put their heads together and came up with their list.
Take your companion dog to dog training. Big, little, puppy, adolescent, there is a training class for us. I'll learn basic commands like "sit," "stay" and "come," and we'll be able to take a walk together without me pulling you down the street.
We'll meet other people and their dogs and learn how to act around them. Not only will we learn a lot about each other, but we'll be spending time together, having fun. We might even find we want to take other classes, like rally or agility, or more obedience classes together.
One of our trainers told us, "Work with your dog for 10 minutes as soon as you get home, even before you change out of your work clothes. That way you practice your homework everyday. Practice is how you and your dog learn."
Speaking of your work, I don't know where you go in the car every morning, leaving me alone all day long. But I'm really happy to see you when you get home. Give me your attention and affection for a few minutes. I really missed you.
Remember, this time of year it's cold outside. I can't stay outside much longer than you can, so please bring me into the house where it's warm and cozy.
The little dogs in the family put this resolution on the list: Bundle us up when we go outside. We get cold really easily. I don't need to wear the latest fashion, just keep me warm. Oh, and by the way, if I don't want to go out in the cold weather, it doesn't mean I don't have to go.
This is a big dog contribution: Please put me on a lead when we're out walking together, just don't use a retractable leash. There are other dogs, squirrels, kids and so many interesting things to explore out there. You won't have any control if I want to go after them.
The little dogs would like to add: We should wear a harness rather than a collar when we go for a walk. We risk injuring our tracheas when we walk wearing a collar.
When we're out walking, please leave your cellphone and a cup of coffee at home. Walking is our time together.
People feed the squirrels and birds. Please don't let me eat the food that's put for them. It can make me sick.
When we get back into the house, wash the salt off my feet. It can dry out the pads on my paws or make me sick if I lick them clean.
As long as we're on the subject of health, try to brush my fur and teeth everyday. And check my ears and eyes, too. It makes me feel better and gives us some bonding time with each other. Your touch everyday helps me feel less nervous when we go for a vet check.
I need my yearly veterinarian checkup, heartworm test and heartworm preventive. And please ask our vet about a flea preventive; those things make me (and you) miserable.
Keep the phone numbers of our veterinarian, the closest veterinary emergency clinic and the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) animal poison control center hotline, (888) 426-4435, close at hand. Things happen.
It's said dogs love unconditionally. We do. Give us hugs for no reason; we'll return the affection.
Our last New Year's resolution is to invite all of you to visit the Buddy Foundation shelter this year. Come and say "hi" to all of our wonderful dogs and cats. They would love to spend time with you and wish you a happy and healthy 2013.
Trooper is a male Rottweiler/cocker spaniel mix. He's around 4 years old and weighs around 52 pounds.
Jewel is a female boxer mix. She's around 3½ years old and weighs about 52 pounds.
Rudy is a male Chihuahua. He's around 2 years old and weighs about 7 pounds.
• Contact The Buddy Foundation at (847) 290-5806; visit us at 65 W. Seegers Road, Arlington Heights; or online at thebuddyfoundation.org.