I, like a significant number of Valley Stream residents, live in a house with dogs. Two of them in fact — both beagles and both rescued from shelters in the area. This is the second time that I have had dogs; the first time was growing up and as a teenager in England and my particular angle on life in Valley Stream would be well illustrated by comparing these two experiences.
Let me say at the outset that I treat my dogs as dogs. My family doesn’t spoil them with endless goodies, dress them up like chorus girls from “Glee” or take them on vacation. We, like Cesar Millan (a.k.a. The Dog Whisperer) believe that a dog’s life needs three things in equal measure — exercise, discipline and affection.
Affection is easy. I know of nobody who owns a dog who doesn’t love it and feel enriched by its company. People get dogs for many different reasons and dogs themselves come in many shapes, sizes and temperaments but the bond of affection between owner and dog — and vice versa — is invariably strong.
Dogs are like children. They look to their human masters to set some rules and limits. These bounds give the dog stability and structure which is returned in good behavior and affection. That is where discipline comes in. Even potentially aggressive dogs can be sweet and well-mannered if set the appropriate bounds early in life.
Being around many people with dogs, I find that affection and discipline are not usually issues. Exercise, unfortunately, is a different matter. Again, just like children, dogs that are cooped up indoors endlessly begin to act up, partially out of frustration and partially from boredom. They need to play and socialize. Different breeds are bred to have different characteristics and different ways of letting off steam; there is not a breed on this planet (until somebody cross-breeds a hound and a sloth, at least) which thrives by doing nothing. We dog owners like to say that “a tired dog is a good dog.” Some dogs need to run, some to play, some to track. Whatever their need, if it is not satisfied it becomes everybody’s problem.