Our Promise to our Dogs


"Clipper has no understanding whatsoever about money. I love that about dogs."

©Scott Sheaffer, CDBC, CPDT-KA, USA Dog Behavior, LLC

What implied promises do we make to our dogs when we bring them into our homes?

This thought occurred to me recently while attending the wedding of a nice young couple (yes, I was paying attention to the ceremony). As I listened to their wedding vows, I realized that we essentially make these same kinds of "vows" to our dogs when they become part of our household.

As you may recall, I recently rescued a German Shepherd named Clipper. If I insert his name and my name into standard wedding vows, it might look something like the following.

I, Scott, take you Clipper, to be my dog...The day I took him home he became my responsibility - something I did not take lightly. In just a matter of days after making him part of my home, he bonded with me. That's just what dogs do with their owners - it's in their DNA.

To have and to hold from this day forward...For Clipper to be a happy and healthy dog, I must give him protection, affection and praise every day of his life. He rewards me in this same way by being happy to see me every morning when I wake and every evening when I get home - and all the times in-between.

For better or for worse...Most days he is the joy of my life. But on other days, I have to be patient and understanding with him as he learns. He's amazingly patient with me too; his unconditional love is an inspiration.

For richer, for poorer...Clipper has no understanding whatsoever about money. I love that about dogs.

In sickness and in health...It's my responsibility to take care of him when he's sick. It's nice to know that my health, or lack thereof, will never be a factor in how he feels about me. Isn't it great how dogs never require us to meet any criteria in order to receive their loyalty?

To love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part...When Clipper came into my home, it was for life. There's something beautiful about the term, "forever home". I can't imagine ever "divorcing" him.

Like getting married, bringing a dog into your home is a serious commitment - one that requires a lot of consideration.

Whether dog owners have rescued their dog or bought one from a breeder, they will have the joy and privilege of properly caring for their animal for many years.