Have you met a pet owner so absorbed in her so-called "superior" skills in pet parenting that she made you feel as small as a Chihuahua? By chance was it me?
Among dog-savvy folks, it's quite common to hear divisive comments and/or sly chiding of pet owners who aren't supposedly up to snuff.
I would largely attribute this elitism as a learned response to seeing or hearing about the nastiest of nastiest dog owners. You learn to expect the worst. But witnessing abuse and neglect doesn't warrant elitism toward all.
In the interest of uniting the dog community, this is what a good dog owner really looks like, despite dog divas like myself asserting otherwise.
You aim for an optimum weight, feeding adequate food.
Whether you buy a top-tier food is up to you. If your dog is overweight, work on it. It's uncomfortable for them, and they can't tell you that.
You provide training, exercise and socializing, working toward a happy, calm-submissive dog.
Not all dogs come out of the box pristine. Others adopt bad behavior over time. Your job is to be proactive. Exercise and play time go a long way in ensuring a happier dog.
You treat your dog like a member of your pack.
Dogs are pack animals. Leaving your dog outside all the time or ignoring or withholding affection will result in an unhappy--and potentially dangerous--animal.
Your dog has at least the minimum of vaccinations and preventatives.
If financial woes arise, speak candidly with your vet. You don't need every shot, pill or procedure, but you do need to ensure your dog is legal and healthy.
You love your dog as much as he loves you.
Love and affection come in different forms. A shabby, stinky dog may in fact receive more adoration from his family than a dog on the best food with the plushest bed and regular grooming.
So, for all you fellow dog divas out there, let's start supporting dog owners who are doing their best with what they have. That doesn't mean there aren't people out there who shouldn't have pets. It just means good dog owners come in different forms.
And to all you folks who've been the victims of dog divas, I apologize on their behalf.
Bottom line, happy and healthy dogs come from dog owners in all shapes, sizes, budgets and priorities.