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Are We Responsible For Our Animal Companions?

woman hugging puppy closeup

Well, are we responsible for our animal companions? That can certainly be construed as a loaded question, and I’m going to go for the short, succinct answer.


In particular as human responsibility applies to the two examples below.

My dog Max, the cats and I live in the small, rural town of Belle Plaine, MN. Very small town, kids still ride bikes around the town, play outside after dark and walk to the local school. Very rural town, not unusual to see a John Deere tractor driving ahead of me on Main Street. Dogs and cats run freely through their neighborhoods.

Belle Plaine reminds me of a 21st century Mayberry, RFD.

Max and I were running some local errands the other day, and I was watching 2 little girls, probably about ages 4 and 6, to make sure they didn’t run into the street in front of me.

Because I was watching the little girls, I didn’t see their dog run into the street. Max didn’t see the dog either, or he would have barked.

Luckily, the dog saw the car, turned around and ran back into the yard.

Fast forward a few days.

Toddler Irritating DogI was on Facebook and saw a posting entitled “Disturbing on So Many Levels……”. It is indeed disturbing how this toddler is annoying the dog, the dog is saying “leave me alone” in numerous ways and to the best of his ability, and the adult(s) in charge are ignoring the situation, allowing the dog’s stress level to escalate, thereby willfully creating a dangerous situation for all species involved by their lack of involvement. If you haven’t seen this short video, please take a few moments to watch it.

Our responsibility towards animals is to be in a ‘relation-with’ them, to care for them, to protect them to the best of our abilities. This means we keep them in safe situations, protecting them from other people, other animals and sometimes protecting them from themselves, as in the case of the dog in the video.

Relationship, regardless of the species involved, is an active state of being. For a relationship to be at its best, it cannot be inactive, passive or benign. Relationships take work and commitment, and that’s not always easy.

Responsibility, or response-ability, is called for in order for relationships to exist and flourish.

The ability to respond – responsibility – means keeping your dog on leash or contained in someway when you are out watching your 2 little girls in the yard. I still shudder when I think what COULD have been if the dog had not turned back around and ran into his yard.

The ability to respond – responsibility – does mean teaching children to respect and understand dogs and their vocal and body languages; removing the child from a potentially dangerous, even deadly situation.

The ability to respond – responsibility – can mean finding a new home that is more suitable for your animal companion’s needs and wants.

As we say here at Talk2theAnimals “We all do better when ALL creatures do better”. It’s time for us humans to get on the bandwagon and do our part in creating a safer world and existence for all species.


Janet Roper

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