This week is Have a Heart for Chained Dogs week and it ends on Sunday February 14th- Valentines day. The organization Dogs Deserve Better has been championing chained dogs for years and they do it with love. They send valentines each year to people who chain their dogs.

This is a subject near and dear to my heart as my dog, Ninja was chained for the first year of his life. For some reason, the group that rescued him out of the backyard where he first lived, sent me video of him on a chain. It was a small dirt lot, and he could run only up and down the length of the lot. In the video you could see the people open up the door and throw some kibble out into his bowl.

I’m not sure how this rescue group found out about him, or why the family agreed to give him up, or if they ended up with more dogs after that. But I do know that no dog deserves to live that way. (After he was rescued from there, he was in the shelter for 3 months, but black pit bull mixes don’t get easily adopted from the shelter. Then he was in a foster home, but the foster’s dog didn’t like him so then he went to a boarding facility for three months. All told, his first two years were chained, in a shelter and then bouncing around.)

It’s remarkable that his disposition is as sweet as it is. Dogs are so forgiving. But they should never be in that position in the first place. I know that there can be cultural issues involved. And that many people have dogs as guard dogs, rather than as companion pets. It’s time to change that. If we choose to have a dog, they should be a part of our family, treated with respect and dignity. They are not an alarm system. They are sentient beings with needs and wants and it is our duty as the beings who domesticated them to honor their true nature.

The very first thing that I ask in my book, What to Expect When Adopting a Dog is whether you are ready for the responsibility of being the guardian to a sentient being. If the answer is: I’m getting a dog for protection, then please reconsider. If the answer is, I’m ready to have an amazing relationship with a dog, then great! Let’s get a dog and invite him or her to be a part of our family.

I attended an online conference with Animal Place, a farm animal sanctuary a while ago. The intention of the conference was to share about the future of the farmed animal movement.

While many of us are more familiar with companion animal rescue, fewer people have been exposed to farm animal sanctuaries and there are more and more popping up all the time.

My friend Corinne took her son to a local sanctuary last week, and they got to experience farm animals up close. I’ve been to one in Southern CA called Gentle Barn a few times. And of course, during my time in India, the sanctuary where I volunteered has many different types of farm animals to get up close and personal with.

These encounters open our eyes and hearts to other sentient beings and enable us to see them as individuals. (Yes, I eat a plant-based diet and attempt to live a vegan lifestyle. I am aware that that isn’t the case for most people. If you would like to discuss it with me, please reach out. I welcome the conversation.)

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