By Julia Williams
I was originally going to title this post, How the Internet Makes Being a Pet Parent Better. I changed my mind when I realized that it wasn’t really “the internet” that I meant, but the people a pet owner can meet there through various online avenues. For me, those avenues are primarily a pet blog and Facebook. There are many others that one might choose as their favorite “virtual water cooler,” but in the end it’s the interactions we have with other pet owners and the friendships we form that matter more than where we choose to gather.
Some people, including me, have a hard time remembering what life was like B.I., or Before Internet. My virtual water cooler visits are an integral part of my day. It’s how I stay connected to others while enjoying the solitude and freedom of a work-from-home career. Yet it’s become so much more than that to me, and I only realized just how much more when my beloved cat, Annabelle, recently fell gravely ill.
I was cycling through all of the “downer” emotions that besiege us when our fur kids are sick: anxiety, fear, sadness, dread, helplessness. Mostly, I was just very worried about Annabelle and terrified that I would lose her. I do have people in my “real life” who understand the turmoil that having a sick pet creates, but only a precious few. I really needed an army, because I was trying to be strong, for Annabelle…and I was failing miserably.
I found my army on Facebook, where my friends’ list includes many good-hearted souls who love their pet as deeply as I do. I also participate in a Facebook group that’s comprised of crazy-about-cats people like me. One thing I especially love about Facebook is that no matter what you might need from others – support, opinions, answers to questions, knowledge that only comes from personal experience – you can post a status and get what you need immediately. It’s like a real-time lifeline, a metaphorical tow rope thrown to a drowning man.
My pet-loving friends on Facebook understood my pain like few can, because most had been there before
with their own sick pet at some point. They were there to lift me up when I fell down; they gave me the strength I needed to keep going in the face of uncertainty and chaos; they offered unwavering support and encouragement for me, and for Annabelle; they purred, prayed and sent pawsitive thoughts and healing energy to us both.
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