Eat. Play. Love
A 16th century manuscript stated that an unknown man had been “...leading a dog’s life since his wife left him,” alluding to a life of misery and sorrow for dogs during that time. Today, the phrase can also refer to the pampered life of many canines; fed well, walked, played with and loved. For many, they are part of our family and who has not returned home feeling down, only to be greeted with unconditional love by our dog as though we’d been away for months?
Children who learn to responsibly look after an animal, treat it with compassion and care, understand how to also treat people. Life-lessons such as birth, illness, death and sadly bereavement are often a child’s first exposure to these aspects of life if the family own a pet. Hyperactive children can release energy with a lively pet and, for those who are neurodiverse, owning an animal can be calming or help with self-confidence and communication.
Dogs detecting disease
Our four-legged friends have more than 200 million scent receptors – humans have five million. Dogs take short breaths and are always picking up new scents. They are now being trained as disease detectors with remarkable success. Human tumours produce volatile organic compounds, which are released into urine, exhaled breath and sweat. Trained dogs can detect differing types of cancer, including melanoma, lung, prostate and breast. These dogs can also discern specific odours from epileptics that warn of a seizure. Even untrained dogs have anecdotally detected cancers; in a 2013 British case study, an Alsatian continually licked an asymptomatic lesion behind her 75-year-old owner’s ear. This lesion was subsequently found to be malignant. Studies into dogs sniffing out disease continue.
Catteries and kennels
A home away from home for our pets should be licensed, clean and comfortable with a good reputation. It pays to do your research and pay a visit beforehand. Are the staff caring and do the animals look happy and with enough space? A reputable kennel will enquire about your dog’s vaccinations; you may want to ask them what the procedure is if your pet becomes ill. Alternatively, there are numerous pet-friendly holiday rentals in Otago. Finding a lovely boarding facility for your beloved pet is worth the effort and means you can go on holiday without worrying. - Gill Towle