The Star-Herald

Want a pet? Don’t let TV sway you

I admit it: I am one of the very few left in America who have not watched the “Twilight” sagas or the mega-hit HBO series “Game of Thrones.” The enthusiastic following of these shows is unbelievable, and what has happened is that fans are clamoring to incorporate as many elements of the show into their lives as possible.

“Game of Thrones” has sparked an increased demand for Siberian Huskies and other dogs in the Husky family, because of their resemblance to the beloved direwolf — and not always with positive outcomes. 

(MetroCreative)

  One of the lead actors, Peter Dinklage (who plays Tyrion Lannister), recently urged fans to reconsider their desire to have a Husky as a pet solely because of their interest in the show.  “We understand that due to the direwolves’ huge popularity, many folks are going out and buying Huskies,” Dinklage said to fans in a statement. “Not only does this hurt all the deserving homeless dogs waiting for a chance at a good home in shelters, but shelters are also reporting that many of these Huskies are being abandoned — as often happens when dogs are bought on impulse, without understanding their needs.” 

  Thousands of Huskies are surrendered at shelters nationwide, and many Huskies end up as strays either because they were deliberately dumped in the street or because they escape from yards and homes that aren’t Husky-proofed. Now, more than ever, that means Huskies need adopters who want to save them, not have them as a pop-culture status symbol. 

I can remember years ago when the Walt Disney movie “101 Dalmatians” was released.  Afterward there was a huge influx of families and kids wanting their very own Dalmatian puppy.  How cute and cuddly they appeared on the big screen, but what soon happened was the puppy grew into a very energetic dog. They require a very active lifestyle and are capable of running for miles before getting tired.  A short walk around the yard or down the street just won’t cut it with this breed.  Pet owners soon found out that Dalmatians were way too active and lively for young children.  Shelters soon began seeing a surge of Dalmatians surrendered once the novelty of the movie wore off.  

Education before adoption is the key.

  “The Siberian Husky is alert, intelligent, eager to please, and adaptable,” said Brandi Hunter, vice president of public relations and communications for the American Kennel Club. “They are not similar to the extinct Direwolf. Potential dog owners should be aware that obtaining a dog should be an educated and responsible decision that is not influenced by a trend, TV show, or movie. Dogs are a responsibility and should be treated as one.” 

No one understands or appreciates this sentiment more than Heather Schmidt, the founder and executive director of the nonprofit rescue and rehabilitation organization Hollywood Huskies. “Siberian Huskies are an amazing breed,” she said. “They are friendly, extremely intelligent, good-natured, engaging, and each one has a unique personality.” However, they are by no means a low-maintenance breed, she noted, which is why they require a dedicated pet parent willing to do the work necessary.  Anyone interested in adopting a pet needs to educate themselves and understand that this is a commitment for the life of the pet.

For more helpful information, check out Facebook Petmd.com

Stop by the Central Aroostook Humane Society and check out what pet might be just right for your family. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closing for lunch from 12 to 12:30.

Please be responsible — help control the pet population by spaying and neutering your pets.

The purity of a person’s heart can be quickly measured by how they regard animals” (Anonymous).

Gloria J. Towle is the secretary and a member of the Board of Directors of the Central Aroostook Humane Society.

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