I have yet to make a New Year’s resolution I can keep. This year, instead of vowing to floss daily or give up soda completely, neither of which will ever happen, I decided to make five resolutions relating to my dogs, Dolly and Spot. Surely my love for them will give me the willpower needed to be a better pet parent — and person, as a result — in 2013.

1. We will take three long walks a day.

I work from home, which means I can take my dogs for a long walk before breakfast, at lunch, and once I close my laptop for the night. We all need the exercise and fresh air. I do reserve the right to count a trip to the dog park as our third “long walk” on any given day.

2. I will learn more about canine nutrition.

At least once a week, we head to the local mom-and-pop pet-supply store for treats and chat. The owners provide their expert opinion whenever I ask, but I don’t always follow up for the “why” behind recommendations. I would like to walk out with a deeper understanding of Dolly and Spot’s nutritional needs, so that my choices of kibble, treats, and supplements become better informed over time.

3. We will consistently follow our dog trainer’s rules.

I recently hired a trainer to address Spot’s growing leash aggression. (More on that to come in the upcoming article, “5 Ways I Have Failed as a Pet Parent.”) He provided much insight and gave us rules to follow. I admit to being less than consistent lately, what with all the holiday madness, but we will get back on track in 2013. My dogs need to be both physically and mentally healthy.

4. Spot and Dolly will make more doggie friends.

Before moving to Arizona, Dolly and Spot had quite the social life. They have one doggie friend nearby now. I could blame the triple-digit temperatures that discourage lingering outdoors, but it’s really my fault. I put off dealing with Spot’s previously mentioned leash aggression, which causes some neighbors to cross the street when they see us coming. Keeping resolution No. 3 will help make this promise possible.

5. I will continue to treasure every day with my dogs.

Dolly underwent cancer treatment in 2012. It was painful for her and heartbreaking for me as I watched her suffering and imagined for the first time a world without my Dolly girl. We don’t get nearly enough time with these amazing creatures. I will continue to treasure every day — and every moment, both happy and sad — with my dogs.

Readers, did you make any New Year’s resolutions relating to your dogs this year? Please share in the comments!

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