Editor's Page: You, Your Dogs and the Polar Vortex

If you haven't already done so, make legal provision for your dogs after determining who is willing and fit to care for them after you're gone.

By Allan Reznik | Posted: Feb. 18, 2014 12 p.m. PST

Allan Reznik Editor

This column is being written while most of the country is in the grip of brutal snowstorms, ice storms, savage winds and temperatures frigid enough to be breaking longstanding records. Although the calendar tells us winter officially began only a few weeks ago, it feels as though we've been dealing with it for much longer. Freezing rain after a 10-inch snowfall made my winding country roads treacherous and kept me housebound for a week in early December, raising stress levels significantly as I needed to get to Orlando for the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship.

The meteorologists have introduced us to a new term: "polar vortex," super cold air from the arctic making its way south and blanketing the nation.

We in the dog fancy don't have the luxury of cocooning by the fire until warmer temperatures return. On a day-to-day basis, we have dogs to maintain and exercise. Judges need to fly the not-so-friendly skies to meet their obligations at shows from coast to coast, while exhibitors must navigate the slippery roads. Some will blow off a show weekend if the weather looks impossible, but professional handlers whose livelihood depends on getting to show venues safely don't have that option.

The graying of the dog-show fancy is a frequent topic of conversation when we discuss the drop in entries and registrations. Let's not forget that this phenomenon, at a very basic level, can affect the health and well-being of our dogs.

Whenever fires, floods and other catastrophes cause the authorities to issue evacuation orders, we know there are owners of multiple animals who cannot comply. Shelters cannot typically house the quantities of dogs most breeders keep, and the problem is exacerbated when there are elderly dogs and young litters to be taken into account.

Clearing heavy snow to allow our dogs outdoor access has been a challenge in recent weeks. Strong winds can damage fencing and kennel property. Imagine the situation for elderly breeders living in remote areas. It's not easy to ask for help, and with so many of us struggling just to keep our own homes and kennels safe and functioning, we need to remind ourselves to check in with acquaintances in our area.

Few of us have family members who are as interested and well-informed about our dogs as we are. It is all too easy for an impatient relative to dispose of our dogs without understanding the ins and outs of co-owners, breeders and designated individuals who must be informed of any change in the dogs' living situation.

If you haven't already done so, make legal provision for your dogs after determining who is willing and fit to care for them after you're gone. Inform your family and friends of these decisions, and the location of your will, relevant paperwork, photos and records on each dog, etc. Let the historian of your parent club know that you have scrapbooks and letters to donate. Recently there has been so much irreplaceable memorabilia discarded after judges and breeders have passed, when it could have been used to such benefit to educate upcoming generations of fanciers. A terrible double loss.

Let's do all that we can to protect the dogs we cherish, and that includes reaching out to others in our breed when trouble is looming.

 

From the February 2014 issue of Dogs in Review magazine. Purchase the February 2014 digital back issue with the DIR app or subscribe to receive 12 months of Dogs in Review magazine (print and digital versions).

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