Most of us have at least one pet – some of us have many – and we love them dearly. To many of us, our pets are like children or best friends. While having a pet for a companion is good for our physical and mental health, there are times when we can lose our perspective and forget to see that our pets are – and will always be – animals, with animal instincts, behaviours and needs.
I have known people who:
- Only ever feed their pets expensive pre-prepared and packaged gourmet foods and treats.
- Feed them sugary treats.
- Spend a fortune on elaborate pet toys and accessories.
- Provide special heated bedding or ornate kennels for their comfort or allow them to sleep under the covers with them every night.
- Dress them daily in constricting coats or costumes.
- Keep them confined in small spaces for long periods.
All of these practices can be detrimental to the health and well-being of our pets and, while I know that there are only good intentions at play, I can’t help but be concerned that some owners can’t see the negative impact that this can have long-term.
Images courtesy of Pixabay and Public Domain Pictures
I once knew a woman who had a beautiful pet poodle. According to her, the poodle would not eat any other foods besides cooked chicken necks. The woman would make an eighty-kilometre round trip each week (she lived in a country town) to buy chicken necks from a particular source for this dog. She did it because she loved her dog and wanted to keep him happy, but in reality, the dog suffered quite poor health and very bad teeth due to its limited diet.
Our pets – even the most domesticated ones - need to be given the opportunity at least occasionally - to act like animals. To run and chase, stalk and attack, to enjoy the elements, to scratch, dig holes, and chew on sticks and bones. For our pets to be truly happy they need this balance in their lives.
Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I’ve never seen my dog happier than when I take her to the river to sniff and explore, roll on the grass and paddle in the water. I love watching my son’s dog swimming in the dam, chewing on sticks and wrestling with her friends.
To love our pets - and to show them our love - is to accept and embrace everything about them – including their animal behaviours.