I didn’t mention it last month, but this is the start of WDJ’s 25th year of publication. These milestone anniversaries call for a bit of reflection.
There may be some subscribers among you who have been here for a good part of the past 24 years. I hear from these long-time readers from time to time – people who remember Rupert, the Border Collie who appeared with me in this space from the first issue, and some who remember the joyous occasion when Otto’s fuzzy face first appeared here in 2008. I so appreciate these readers! I’m glad that I’m not the only one who remembers how few good dog foods there were on the market in 1998 and how force-free, dog-friendly training was considered new and unusual. Happily for dogs everywhere, both of those things are mainstream today!
From the first issue, it’s been our goal to bring a reasoned approach to evaluating the tools and techniques needed to live with and care for our dogs. Whether we are reviewing harnesses, flea preventatives, a technique for teaching a solid “stay,” or dog food, we base our recommendations on the factors that can result in the best outcome for your dogs with the fewest adverse effects.
As time passes, we learn more and our opinions shift – but our central philosophy does not; protecting the dog’s physical, mental, and emotional condition, and a convivial and trusting dog/human relationship is what we are all about. This drug that seemed like a godsend? Too many side effects. That training tool that appeared to be a gentler alternative to pain-producing collars? Still too aversive for many dogs. The widely touted homeopathic remedy? A waste of time and hope. The most effective way to teach a dog to “leave it”? We found one that dogs seem to learn faster.
There are publications out there that take an anti-vaccine, anti-pharmaceutical stance. There are others that recommend the year-round, monthly administration of pesticides and medications for internal and external parasites, whether your dog lives a sheltered life on the 32nd floor of a New York apartment building or is exposed to every pathogen imaginable as a search-and-rescue dog. Some maintain that giving kibble to dogs is tantamount to poisoning them (despite widespread evidence to the contrary); others warn against killing your dog with raw diets.
We don’t embrace any of these all-or-nothing extremes. We strive to give you the evidence-based information you need to make choices that will build and maintain your dog’s vibrant good health and behavior. Our job is to point you toward what works best with the least harm. And that won’t change, even in another quarter century!