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Raising and training dogs in Denver, Colorado, in 2012 is a far cry from what it was when I was a child in West Virginia in the late 60's through the mid-80's. For the most part, the changes have been for the better. Here are a few quick comparisons:
Then: Dogs lived most of their lives chained to dog-houses in the back yard. Hunting dogs were kept in kennels down by the woods. Because they lived outdoors, nobody knew dogs could have gas.
Now: Most dogs are indoor dogs. My bird dog sleeps on my bed. My coonhound sleeps on the floor on my side of the bed; he farts constantly.
Then: I remember frequently seeing dogs with mange and commonly hearing stories of dogs dying of parvo, distemper and heartworms.
Now: It's hard to even acquire a dog that is not current on its inoculations, and beef-flavored heartworm medicine is considered a delicacy by most dogs.
Then: Almost every kid got to see the family dog deliver a litter of puppies. As I recall, a lesson about reproduction ensued. I don't ever remember seeing a neutered male dog -- I'm not sure it occurred to anyone to do such a thing!
Now: Spaying is responsible. Neutering is the new macho and prevents testicular cancer. Yeah, I suppose cutting anything off prevents it from getting cancer.
Then: When stray dogs entered someone's yard, they were adopted, poisoned or shot.
Now: Strays are rounded up by animal control, brought to shelters where they are cared for by selfless volunteers, and adopted by kind-hearted animal lovers.
Then: Socialization was a bad word that had more to do with Russia than it had to do with dogs.
Now: Socialization is a good word that has more to do with dogs than it has to do with Russia.
Then: Dogs hung around the yard or explored the neighborhood until you came home at the end of the day.
Now: Dogs have to be treated for separation anxiety and leash aggression.
Then: Dogs were transported in the beds of pick-up trucks.
Now: Dogs wear specially designed restraints to keep them from flying through the window if you slam on the brakes.
Then: A dog that bit a child was shot. A dog that chased cars was run over. A dog that got in fights with other dogs either won or lost -- and if the loser's repair estimate was too high, he was shot.
Now: People pay big money to rehabilitate dogs that bite children. Dogs that chase cars are kept in the yard by invisible fences. Dogs that loose fights are covered by insurance.
Then: Training was minimal, harsh and utilitarian. Dogs chewed bones and fetched sticks.
Now: Training is more thorough, gentle and creative. Dogs chew Kongs, Nylabones and Greenies and fetch phones, medicine bottles, tennis balls and beer.