Don’t bother telling us he should sleep in his own bed. On his first night here, it was total chaos until he was in bed with us. The only time he uses his own bed is during the daytime. If we want to sleep, he’s in our bed.
— J.M., St. Louis
Dear J.M.: I am sure that you are not alone in having a dog who likes his own bed for napping but insists on sleeping with you at night. This is an ancient behavior pattern of pack mates sleeping close together for safety in numbers.
At my wife Deanna Krantz’s animal refuge in India, small groups of three or four dogs will sleep with resident staff, each dog knowing to which group and bed he belongs.
Most dogs like light covers for additional security as much as warmth, which is better than allowing the dog to lie between the sheets with you, especially if the odd tick might have been picked up outdoors.
Pet ownership widespread but down overall: According to the latest American Veterinary Medical Association’s United States Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, more than half of U.S. homes include a pet. However, ownership is down 2.4 percent compared with data collected in 2006.
“That is something I was not expecting,” AVMA President Dr. Douglas Aspros told USA Today. “Pets are important for people’s mental, psychological and physical health. The decline is also bad for pets because there are a lot of animals left in shelters.”
As I see it, the economic hard times afflicting so many families and individuals is a major reason why dogs and cats are filling up animal shelters in many communities across the country, too many of whom are euthanized.
In some communities, there are now pet food banks and low-cost vaccination and health care outreach programs. I believe that many more are needed, modeled after the famed PDSA (Peoples’ Dispensary for Sick Animals) in the United Kingdom, to enable people to keep their animal companions and maintain their health.