In a way, Soren, our 11-year-old Labrador Retriever made us parents. We always knew a dog would complete our family. Not only that but we also thought a puppy would provide great training for parenthood and boy were we right. Raising a puppy is, in many ways just as challenging as raising a child and is a big investment. For us, this is why it was so important that we chose a dog who would fit our family in the long run. When we set out to choose a breed, the Labrador retriever was our top pick.
As we entered the room where the brand new puppies were comfortably cuddling with their momma one small yellow pup broke away from the pack to come and say hello. It was then, that we knew he would be ours. Born of champion parents, with a slight hint of chocolate, Soren’s colour was a warm amber yellow with a little brown nose. When he was finally old enough to bring home he was all we had hoped for. We had chosen a lab because we knew the breed is relative easy to train, loyal and good with kids, which we hoped to have one day. Soren was no exception. He learned quickly and loved to play.
When our son was born, two years later, Soren was his faithful guardian. He was gentle and yet protective. Together, our son and Soren played, got into trouble and generally discovered what this crazy thing called life is all about.
When our daughter was born with Trisomy 21, or more commonly known as Down Syndrome, it was if Soren knew she needed a little extra love and a little extra help. He was by her side, (as well as mine) constantly.
We now have three children. We joke that with each child Soren gets bumped a notch lower on the totem pole. It’s true that we don’t have the undivided attention for him that he used to get but the truth is, just as he has made my children’s lives richer, they have also added to his.
When we go out for walks, people will often ask how old Soren is expecting to hear that he is a puppy but he is far from it. In fact, during our last trip to the vet, the doctor asked what type of food we were feeding him and if it was specially formulated for seniors. Senior?! I had never thought of Soren as a senior before. He is still so full of life – always ready to greet you at the door, go for a run, walk or play but it’s true – Soren is getting to be an old man (in fact, labs are considered seniors as early as 5-7 years old). Just like a human however, an active lifestyle and a healthy diet designed especially for the unique needs of your dog’s breed can keep them living a very full and active life until the very end.
For example, we know that labs can tend to over eat…in fact, we saw it first hand when Soren was a puppy and learned how to open the canister that held his kibble. Obesity in dogs however, just like in humans can cut years off a life and can severely deteriorate quality of life. Royal Canin has a kibble especially designed for labs that is hollow on the inside so while they feel like they are gorging themselves, they are getting just the right amount of nutrition they need.
I can’t imagine our family without Soren. By having him in our family not only do my kids have a constant companion but they have also learned the responsibility of caring for a pet. Soren may be an old guy but he is young at heart and we hope that he will be with us for many years to come.
If you want to find out more about how to best meet your dog’s nutritional needs and help them get the most out of life visit http://royalcanin.ca/blog/2016/03/30/What-should-I-feed-my-purebred-dog
Are you thinking about getting a dog?
Here are a few things to consider when picking a breed:
- Consider the temperament
Some breeds tend to be more aggressive than others. It is good to take into consideration the temperament that would best suit you and your family. Do you need a guardian dog for your home? A dog that will be loyal, sensitive or good with kids? Also consider if you have other animals that the dog might need to get along with.
- Big or small?
That being said, just because a dog is small, does not mean that it requires less maintenance or is less aggressive. Some small dogs tend to be very vocal which may not be conducive to condo living, while some large breeds to surprisingly well in small living spaces such as a Great Dane.
- Climate and Lifestyle
Consider how much exercise a particular breed needs and what type of climate they are best suited for. Some breeds, such as labs require quite a bit of exercise and therefore are best for those with an already active lifestyle. Other breeds do not do well in colder climates, or hotter climates for that matter. Pick the breed that works with the lifestyle you live.