Pet Enrichment in Midtown

By on 21 September, 2011 in Fun, Outdoors, Parks, Pets with 0 Comments

Pets are adorable creatures, by and large. The presence of puppies or kittens often elicits reflexive ooooohs and aaahhhs (or the newest slang, “sqeeee”). Yet, pet ownership is a serious matter with lasting consequences throughout the animal’s life. Certainly, pet ownership is not for everyone. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study & Policy (NCPPSP), over 2 million dogs enter shelters each year. One-fourth of these dogs were surrendered by their owners. Furthermore, a Shelter Statistics Survey conducted by the NCPPSP from 1994 -1997 (using over 5, 000 shelters nationwide) concluded that the top 10 reasons for dogs being surrendered were:

  1. Moving
  2. Landlord issues
  3. Cost of Pet Maintenance
  4. No time for pet
  5. Inadequate facilities
  6. Too many pets at home
  7. Pet illness(es)
  8. Personal Problems
  9. Biting
  10. No home for littermates

Sadly, most of the reasons mentioned above could have been easily dealt with or avoided through proper research and commitment. As pet owners, it is essential to remember that these animals rely on us — not only for food and shelter, but also for their social, mental, and behavioral well-being for all of their 15–20 years of life.

As a pet owner myself (two sweet and rambunctious kittens that I’ve fostered for the shelter since they were 2 weeks: Klaus and Sherlock), my biggest challenge is keeping them entertained. Let’s face it: These animals were not designed to play with you only when you are available. Idle minds often lead to destructive behaviors. If you own dogs, these destructive behaviors will include destroyed furniture and hyperactivity that can jeopardize the owner-pet relationship — or in the worst case, could lead to surrendering animals to the local shelter.

Thankfully, you don’t need expensive toys to engage and occupy your pets. After all, all they really want is your attention. Spending time with your dog can be fun, while also providing you with valuable exercise. But what other options are there for the Midtown Montgomery pet owner wanting to provide a wholesome lifestyle for their pets? Below are a few enrichment options:

  1. Participate in animal-friendly events such as Walk N’ Wag. Now in its 11th year, Walk ‘N Wag returns to the Blount Cultural Park on Oct 8 to host a fun-filled day for pets and owners alike. This fundraising event not only allows families and their dogs to have fun, but also provides funding for the care of over 12,000 homeless animals. The event is from 9 a.m.-11:30 with registration starting at 8. Walk N’ Wag events include a Doggie Dash Competition, a 1 mile walk, a Best Pet Halloween Costume Contest, and many more. Vendors, veterinarians, and face painting will also be present. Early registration is $20 per person, late registration is $25, and the event is free for children 6 years and younger. For more information or volunteer opportunities at the event, contact Lea (334-409-0622) with the Montgomery Humane Society.
  2. Purchase or create puzzle toys such as Nina Ottosson’s Zoo Active Products. With these Swedish toys, the animal has to work for food and figure out how to get food out of a puzzle box. You can also find other puzzles or mind-engaging toys for cats and birds! These products are available in local and online retailers.
  3. Create an obstacle course in your backyard. Take some ideas from different dog spas in the nation.
  4. Go to the dog park (once it’s built): Thanks to the Montgomery Humane Society and Mayor Todd Strange, a dog park is being built at Blount Cultural Park. This will allow dogs to socialize and pet-owners to meet new friends. Dog socialization is essential to prevent dogs from being overly aggressive and dangerous. While at the Dog Park, pet owners can share and exchange ideas and techniques!

A caring pet owner can help create a well-balanced life for his/her pet.  The key is to have fun with it and recognize the many possibilities and opportunities out there.

Karen Villanueva Wilson moved to Montgomery five years ago and enjoys its Southern hospitality and culture. She lives with her husband, two kittens, 7 feral cats, and a small flock of ducks that shows up every morning for breakfast. She is a strong believer in personal development and she enjoys volunteering in the community.
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