WITH Valentine's Day fast approaching, it's worth considering the bond between a human and their dog, says Janice Porter, chair of Grovehill Animal Trust. And on February 14, she is asking owners to celebrate that unconditional love a dog can give - and to consider providing an unfortunate dog with a loving, forever home.
Grovehill is an animal shelter based near Omagh, which is committed to rescuing and rehoming of abandoned or unwanted cats and dogs, the rehabilitation of abused and neglected animals, and the education of the public in animal welfare.
Janice said: "Unconditional love is often displayed by dogs to their owners. The wagging tail, the paw on your knee, the excited body language, all signalling that your dog thinks you are great!
"Dogs are always happy to see their owners especially when they arrive home. We hear of dogs having a favourite person. Often this is the family member whose energy level matches that of the dog.
"We also know that growing up with a dog can help children develop social skills and even improve their self esteem. As adults, dogs can increase our opportunities to get out into the fresh air and exercise. Pets can also reduce feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression. As intelligent, sentient creatures it's important that they are treated kindly , with respect and fed and exercised.
"I can never understand why people get a dog then leave it outside to languish in a garden, deprived of human contact. I often hear people say 'it's an outdoor dog'. Why get a dog if you intend to keep it outdoors ? All dogs relish and indeed need human company.
"Grovehill believes that every dog is deserving of a second chance. Dogs find themselves in shelters for many different reasons. Sometimes due to an owner's decline in health, some come in via the local dog pound, and sadly sometimes the novelty wears off and the dog is no longer wanted.
"Grovehill ensures that every pup and dog is given a vet check, neutered or spayed and a house check carried out to ensure that they are going to the best home possible. Nothing makes the staff and volunteers at Grovehill happier than to see a dog settled and happy with a loving family. Happy Valentine's Day to all dogs and their owners!"