Answers from Annie: children begging parents for a new puppy

Greetings! I'm a frisky 10 month old Labrador Retriever named Annie. I live in scenic Northfield. I've noticed that this town is filled with bicycles, stained glass, the smell of muffins, and dogs. I've decided to be the voice of these dogs for their owners. Every month I will bark out a problem and attempt to give you insight to solve them.

This time of year I hear children begging their parents for a new puppy. I even hear them promising to feed, walk, and play with the pup. It seems like the parents are put in the "dog house" trying to make this important decision. Should they say "yes" or "wait?"

Caring for dogs develops responsibility and self-esteem in their young owners. If you are looking for the magical age to purchase a pup, forget it. The actual skills necessary to care for pets, though, depend more on a child's ability to take responsibility and exercise self-control than on an age group.

While walking down the side walk I heard 2 people talking about the added expense of purchasing a pup. I reminded them not to forget the added responsibilities involved as well. Were they willing to care for the dog when their children grew up or headed to college or careers?

I suggest including the children in all discussions on caring for your dog. Often, kids can offer great suggestions and be part of the solution when it comes to any behavior problems in your dog.

Because some of my best friends at Doggy Daycare are rescue dogs, I'd suggest checking them out if searching for a dog. These "slightly used" dogs are looking for warm and friendly homes.

One last thing. I suggest you secure the services of a dependable veterinarian like Dr. Rich Lorang or Dr. Signe Wass. Neither one of them has cold hands, and really seem to like taking care of animals.

Your pal, Annie