By Julia Williams
One of the things I find most interesting about human beings is our uniqueness. We each have a distinct set of things we like, and things we don’t like. No matter how many humans you compared side by side, you’d never find two whose preferences matched. It’s the same with our pets. While some people think animals are a less complicated species than humans, in terms of their preferences each pet is unlike any other. However, without the ability to speak our language, pets generally have a harder time making those preferences known. They have to rely on body language and their own “animal speak” to get their point across. They also need an owner who is tuned in and takes the time to discover what floats their boat.
Understanding what brings your pet joy and then doing what you can to provide that for them is a wonderful way to deepen your bond. We humans appreciate it when others make a point of knowing what we love and what we don’t, so why should it be any different for our pets? It’s really not, but because of the language barrier we typically don’t learn all of our pet’s likes and dislikes as quickly as we do with humans. It can take many months, sometimes even years, of observation and trial-and-error to figure out what makes them tick. The reward – a beautiful, close-knit relationship – is well worth it, though.
Discovering what your pet loves is important, but what is also crucial is making sure that others know these things, too. When I wrote Have You Made Arrangements for Your Pet, I neglected to mention this, but I should have. It’s an essential arrangement for every family with pets but especially those who are single. I was reminded of this while reading Gwen Cooper’s novel, Love Saves the Day. The cat protagonist lived with a single woman who passed away. Even though the cat’s new family was the woman’s daughter, she was thrust into a home where they knew nothing about what she loved and what she didn’t. Many pets are surrendered to shelters without this critical information as well.
Change is hard enough for any pet. Imagine suddenly being in unfamiliar surroundings with strangers, unable to tell them that the food they offered wasn’t appealing to your palate, or that you wanted a lighter touch of the brush when they groomed you, or that what you really wanted someone to do, more than anything, was scratch your belly. It would be frustrating, to say the least. A pet’s quality of life would surely be diminished if they weren’t being provided with what they love most.