Our canines are adaptable creatures

I had the pleasure of spending time with family in Fort Collins this past weekend. What a bustling town it has become recently. The small town where I attended college many years ago has turned into a booming metropolis. Colorado State University now encompasses a large part of the inner city limits.

However, it is the transformation in Old Town Fort Collins that amazed me the most. Back in the early 1980s when I attended the university, the downtown area was not a place where you wanted to be after dark. Fast forward a few decades to present day and downtown Fort Collins is the place to be, catering to the nightlife.

The Downtown Fort Collins Business Association was hosting the Bohemian Nights at NewWestFest. The three-day festival featured five stages with different bands playing continuously. This event was free to the public, and judging by the swarms of people, the town was grateful for this major happening.

The day was warm yet slightly overcast and a nice breeze kept the temperature pleasant. As we meandered down city streets, I was amazed at the large number of dogs that were strolling with their human companions. It was immediately apparent that Fort Collins is a very dog-friendly town.

I kept watching each animal as it passed, looking for signs of stress from being surrounded by the masses of people walking around them. However, most of them seemed quite calm. I continued to observe their activity as we made our way to one of the stages.

A large rottweiler casually strode next to his partner, relaxed and at ease. I smiled, watching a young shepherd-mix playfully wagging her tail as she and her human friend passed through the crowds. Many folks pushed their little four-legged friend in dog strollers or held them cupped under their arms.

Seeking shelter from a sudden thunderstorm, we slipped into an open area of a local establishment.

Letting my eyes dim to the low light, I noticed there were several dogs lying on the floor next to their companions. They all seemed right at home in the congested surroundings.

And then, the light bulb came on. I realized this was normal for them. They were city dogs, having been raised in this lively environment. Of course, they were at home. When we went back out after the storm passed, I viewed the animals and their human counterparts in a completely different manner.

For most of the dogs, it was just a routine day in the city. The hustle and bustle of people all around them did not seem to faze them. I watched a tiny Yorkshire terrier extend the end of her leash to go make friends with a couple sitting on a bench nearby. An elderly gentleman and his bassett hound slowly prodded along a cobblestone alley, seemingly content to be out for an evening stroll.

They all seemed quite comfortable in the chaotic atmosphere.

I looked up the population of Fort Collins — nearly 160,000 people live within the city limits. Mesa County, in comparison, contains almost 148,000 people. I imagine our dog populace is relatively equal when compared to the difference in population size.

However, I feel River City has a ways to go before it is the dog-friendly city I witnessed in Fort Collins last weekend.

On the other hand, our lifestyle in western Colorado is also completely different. Many of our country dogs on this side of the mountains are raised on farms and ranches.

Their daily activity includes working with livestock and riding around in the back of a pickup.

Our city dogs enjoy walks around local parks, while others happily accompany their two-legged friends on hikes in the backcountry.

The weekend in Fort Collins was a pleasurable few days. On the drive home Sunday afternoon, I reflected on my experience watching the city dogs co-mingling with people in their busy surroundings.

The realization that animals adapt to different lifestyles depending on their circumstance was an eye-opening revelation. Once again, I marveled at the relationships developed between humans and our canine companions.

Can you imagine an existence without them?

Charlé Thibodeau has been a passionate pet caregiver for more than 30 years. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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