The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

July 22, 2013

Ryan Richardson: Pet education a never-ending process

JOPLIN, Mo. — This column has made me almost famous on a Joplin level.

I have some notoriety because my face appears next to what I write in this column each week. I get paid to write about my dog, my experience with animals and local issues concerning pets.

This is by far my favorite thing to write about each week. It isn't a bad way to make a living.

I write this column from the point of view that any person can raise a pet. My dog, Cami, has been living with me for about three years, and she's healthy.

I'd like to think she is happy, too. She gets fed at the same time every day and she gets plenty of exercise, which is more than I can say for her owner. On most days, she isn't terribly offensive to four out of five senses.

Basically, if this guy can do it, then you should have no problems whatsoever.

I'm basically a single parent of an only pet, and I act accordingly. I worry constantly that I'm going to screw something up, so I do research to see if there is anything I can change to better my dog's life. My research is part of what you read here each week.

I get approached in public to talk about issues in this column, which is a great thing. But I also know that eventually there will come the dreaded question about something I know absolutely nothing about. It never fails -- I tell them the truth and then I get taken to school by a new friend with a wealth of knowledge.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about collars and a friend pointed out that I left out Martingale collars, which are very popular for bigger dogs. I didn't really bother to talk about them because they are a bit of a niche item for something that didn't directly apply to me.

In a five-minute conversation, she extolled every aspect of the collar and then told me that it might be something that would benefit my smaller dog over a harness. My dog is now a proud owner of a Martingale, and I can tell a big difference when we go for walks.

These are the kind of conversations that I look forward to. My email address is at the bottom of this column every week, and you are always welcome to drop me a line, which many of you already do. If you catch me in public, don't be afraid to start a conversation with me about your pets.

I am quickly finding that pet owners here in Joplin are very knowledgeable, and they want to learn more. I've learned a lot from the people I've met through this column, and for that I thank you. Keep the information and new friendships coming.

I also want to take a quick moment to acknowledge a phone call that I received earlier this week. A very nice but concerned person with the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center, located at 201 Riviera Drive in Joplin, called me to clear up some confusion from last week's column.

I said last week that I had heard the trails at Wildcat Glades are a great adventure waiting to happen. While that is true, make sure you do it without your dog. Pets are not allowed on the official trails, which I verified with the conservation's center website.

I passed that information on to my friends, who told me they were not aware of that rule. I'm glad to shed a little light on this subject. To the person who contacted me regarding this issue: Thank you.

Contact Ryan Richardson about this column or other topic suggestions at rrichardson@joplinglobe.com or 417-627-7363.

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