2 dogs with party hatsPaws and Reflect

Happy New Year! For many of us, January is a time of setting goals for the year to come and frequently making resolutions that get forgotten by the time February rolls around. This year, I’d like to encourage you to join me in making a resolution that will stick, something that’s more enjoyable for you, and your four-legged companions. For many lesbians, pets make our lives whole, so this year let’s devote more quality time to the animals we share our lives with!

Fittingly, the month of January is The Association of Professional Dog Trainers’ National Train Your Dog Month!

A trained dog is a happy dog, and training your dog, both in basic manners and more advanced skills can be a lot of fun.

One of my favourite hobbies and ways to relax is spending time with my dogs and teaching them silly tricks. Tricks are a great way to build your dog’s confidence and increase your bond. On a less serious side, your dog doing cute tricks is also a great way to impress your friends and even that cute girl you’ve been flirting with!

Personally, this year I’m setting a resolution to teach Charlotte—my rescued former street dog turned trick dog—a new trick every week of the year. She already knows over thirty different tricks/commands, from your basic sit and down, to how to turn on a light, to how to play basketball. In the next year, I’m looking forward to doubling her ‘vocabulary,’ and spending quality time with her doing it!

If trick training isn’t your thing, or you don’t share your home with a dog (though my kitten Thing also knows a handful of tricks), this month I’d encourage you to think about ways that you can prioritize your animals in the year to come. There are lots of ways we can show our pets they are important members of our families, maybe spend more evenings in with Netflix and the cat in your lap instead of at the bar, or treat them to some extra servings of special food or treats, or take a special trip with your dog. My partner and I take a couple of trips a year with our dogs, our favourite being to Provincetown in Cape Cod, a well known lesbian vacation spot, and also incredibly dog friendly. Stay tuned for a future month’s column on planning a gaycation with your dog.

If you don’t have pets of your own, 2015 can still be a year you prioritize animals! Shelters and rescue organizations across the country are always in need of dedicated volunteers to walk dogs, play with cats, and help care for animals who are waiting to find their forever families. Volunteering is a great way to improve the lives of animals in need, support great organizations that are understaffed, and make friends with other animal lovers.