By Julia Williams
Very often, people adopt a pet with a preconceived notion of what that pet will be like, or they might have an idea in their head of what they want their pet to be like. Some people adopt a new pet expecting it to be like a previous pet they loved. They may even think, “He’s the same breed, so he should have the same traits my Rover did, right?” Some people even adopt a cat expecting it to behave like their dog, and vice versa. Problems arise when they bring the pet home and find out that the vision in their head doesn’t mesh with reality. The pet doesn’t act the way they wanted it to or expected it to. What can you do?
There’s really only one thing you can do – and that is accept the pet you get. All pets are unique individuals, and they have certain likes and dislikes. You get what you get, and you can’t change their individuality any more than you can change the personality of your friend, spouse or co-worker. Think of their personality like the color of their fur – you can’t turn a black cat into a white one no matter how much you might long to have a white cat.
Now, sometimes you can change how they interact with you if it’s based on their past; for example, you can help a fearful abused pet become more confident and trusting. But I’m talking more about things that are part of the personality your pet was born with as opposed to traits that were shaped by experience. It can be really difficult for pet owners to give up on that mental picture they had of the “perfect pet.” We may really want our pet to be a certain way, and it’s disappointing when they aren’t, but it is what it is. Sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes you don’t.