Saturday, March 25, 2006

Her Hobby is her Dog!

By Christina VanGinkel

I sent several family members and friends an email a few days ago, asking them if they would share with me their hobbies. I told them about the blogs I enjoy writing for, and that one of them is on the subject of hobbies. I have quite a varied interest in subjects myself, but I asked them if they would be willing to share some of the things they do to keep occupied in their down time. Essentially, if they had any hobbies that they would like to share with me, so I could in turn share them with you.

Well, one friend emailed this morning, and at the bottom of her letter, she pasted a link to her dog's web page! I had thought I had seen it all until this. She has no children, and I knew she did not participate in any hobbies such as quilting, crocheting, or beadwork, but I had no idea that she spent so much time with her dog! Her dog is a small black spaniel breed, and she and he visit nursing homes all around the area that she lives in out west. They have been through obedience training together, and he has been taught not to jump on people, not to lick people (This can spread germs in a nursing home or hospital situation), etc. Together, they try to make other peoples daily existence just a bit brighter.

Her devotion to her pooch does not stop there though. She also has taken enough photos of him to create several scrapbooks, and continues to take photographs, updating her website continuously. On the website itself, are links to see dogs that are up for adoption, in need of just as devoted a home as her dog has successfully found. Also, links to veterinarians who donate their time to answer questions, and links to forums where dog owners and lovers can meet up to discuss a wide range of dog related subjects with other devoted owners. There is even a classified listing where dog owners can find their pet pooch everything from a groomer to Chiropractic care, pet insurance, to their very own Psychic, training and agility centers, daycare and dog walkers, massage and yoga for their pets, and much, much more. There is even a link to search out hotels and other types of accommodations that are accepting of pets traveling with their owners. This can be a major obstacle for those individuals who do not want to travel without their furry friends.

This same friend has in the past made Halloween costumes for her dog, and then dressed him in them to compete against other dogs at the local mall for prizes. She also dresses him up, for more innocuous occasions such as going to the store, or the beach. Her dog is her hobby! The best part of it all is that she has a blast participating in all of these things with him. It gives her an outlet that she says she really needs at the end of the day and on the weekends. Her husband is not quite as active in the doggy activities as she is, but he does agree that their pooch is special. They also have a few friends who show their dogs, competitively, but they said that is not something they have chosen to do, beyond the pet costume competition at Halloween. Some dogs like the discipline required at shows, but they think it would be too much pressure and not enough fun, both for their pooch and themselves, but that it is another form of activity that some people might want to consider.

When I asked her if she had any suggestions for other people who might be interested in participating in some of these activities with their dog, she immediately responded that they should be sure that their dog does not mind. Not all dogs like to be dressed for example, and some dogs might be too shy and introverted to be taken around to public places as a therapy dog. She said knowing if your dog is a good candidate is not that hard to figure out, and that if your dog is a prime subject, that they can have just as much fun as you.

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