If you’re a pet lover like me, you probably think that asking if pets make us happier is a pretty dumb question. You may have even uttered something sarcastic like “well duh.” I thought the same thing, until I happened upon a blog post where there was quite a debate going on about that very question.
“Debate? What’s to debate?” I naturally thought. My cats keep my Happy Meter so full, there’s simply no question their furry presence makes me not only happier, but healthier – body, mind and spirit.
The arguments against pets making us happier spoke of things like the hassle of caring for a pet (personally, I’ve never considered caring for my beloved cats a hassle, but whatever); the stress that can arise when they’re sick or injured; the agitation that occurs when your dog shreds your couch cushion or your cat deposits a hairball on the new carpet. I’ll give them points on the stress and agitation issues. No one likes those things. However, I still believe that all of the positives of having a pet far outweigh any negatives.
In my article, How Do You Keep Your Pet Happy?, my furiend Guido the Italian Kitty made an astute observation when he said “My Meowster self thinks your article should be titled How does your PET keep YOU Happy?” It was obvious that all of the things I do to keep my cats happy also make ME happy. I don’t do things that make my cats happy for the sole purpose of my own happiness, but it’s definitely a fringe benefit. I am reminded of that over-used saying: Happy wife, happy life. My version would be: Happy cats, happy me.
Not long ago, an interesting bit of writing popped up on my Facebook newsfeed. It was a short piece titled Just a Dog – not really a poem but not a “story” either. It was, however, a very moving tribute to man’s best friend. I really wanted to share it with you, but there was no author listed, nor any indication where it came from. I’m no stranger to the copyright law, and I’d never post it here (or anywhere) without permission from the copyright owner.
So, I did a little digging. I found Just a Dog on hundreds of other websites and blogs, and some had even taken artistic license and changed it to Just a Cat. A few had the supposed author’s name – Richard A. Biby – but I couldn’t find the man or where the piece was originally published. It’s definitely worth a read, though, so I would encourage you to Google it. Just not before you finish reading my post. LOL.
The poignant piece brought to mind the times in my own life where people have said things like, “It’s just a cat. How can you spend that kind of money on a cat?” “It’s just a cat, it doesn’t love you like a human child can.” Or the very worst of all, after a beloved cat had died, “It’s just a cat. You can always get another one.”
You’ve probably had similar things said to you about your own dog or cat, because the world is filled with unfortunate people who have never bonded with a pet. They can’t possibly comprehend the depth of your love for “just a dog.” They don’t understand why you would consider “just a cat” to be a beloved family member that you’d do anything to keep safe, healthy and happy. The non-pet crowd often trivializes our relationships with our furry friends, because they don’t get that our pets will never be “just” anything.
Two of my dogs, Keikei and Dozer, love to wrestle with each other outside. Both of them enjoy the back and forth, and trying to get them back inside after their morning duty run was frustrating, to say the least. One day I decided to try a new tactic, and when Keikei was at the foot of the stairs, I called her to come, showed her a CANIDAE Pure Heaven treat, and waited for her to bounce up the steps. When she got to the top, I gave her the treat, along with some praise and a mini massage. Treats will definitely get a dog’s attention, but according to a new study, how you greet your dog matters.
The bond we have with other people or our pet doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process of earning and building on a trust that grows over time. Our human tendency is to gravitate towards people with a positive attitude who are quick to give us a warm smile. It’s nonthreatening, comforting and indicates friendliness. A simple greeting makes you feel good. When touch is added, the emotional response has a lasting effect. Touch is an important aspect of the bonding process with dogs too. A casual touch from someone who cares is a positive sign of an emotional bond. Like us, dogs are social creatures and how we greet them plays a role in their emotional outlook. Dogs need to feel our touch as much as we need contact from people we care about.
Remember that romantic kiss scene in Lady and the Tramp? You know the one…where they are eating a big plate of spaghetti and unknowingly slurping away at the same noodle, until their snouts meet in a smooch. Then Tramp noses the last meatball across the plate to Lady.
Aww. So adorable, right? Not to kill the cuteness factor, but have you ever wondered whether dogs can really fall head-over-paws in love like that?
Doggy love is a hard topic to find solid research on, maybe because it’s hard to qualify the emotion separate from simple affection. A lot of scientists seem to just flat out not believe in it.
Anthropologist Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Social Lives of Dogs, believes that dogs can fall in love. In her book, she tells the story of Sundog and Bean, two dogs that met each other by chance and only had the pleasure of each other’s company for a brief period of time. Bean’s owner was a builder and they were off as soon as the job was finished.
Sundog would still faithfully wait to hear the sound of the vehicle Bean’s owner drove, but to no avail. He stopped eating and slept more often. Even bringing in another female dog didn’t interest him. As for Bean, her owner believed she was yearning for Sundog, even to the extent that she would run away, looking for him.
Two stray dogs living on the streets of Terre Haute, Indiana met and “fell in love,” or so the story goes. Life took an abrupt turn, however, when the two became separated. But one of the dogs wasn’t going to let anything stop him from being reunited with his best four legged friend.
Four and a half year old Ben, a mixed breed, and one year old Jade, a German Shepherd mix, were well known strays that called the streets of Terre Haute home. How they met is anyone’s guess, but over time an incredible bond grew between them. The dogs were looked after by locals in the community, but the pair remained skittish of humans. When Jade became pregnant, the Terre Haute Humane Society (THHS) decided it was time to rescue both dogs.
Since they were comfortable with each other, the shelter kenneled them together until Jade gave birth to six healthy puppies. It was decided that they would be better in a foster home environment until the pups were weaned, and were moved to the home of Kali Skinner, one of the THHS adoption counselors. According to Skinner, “Jade was timid, but a very caring mother.” When the pups were old enough, they were put up for adoption and all quickly found forever homes.
Ben was overjoyed to see Jade when she returned to the shelter, and life was good until a young couple stopped in looking for a dog to adopt. Courtney and Jason Lawler fell in love with Ben, but they didn’t want two dogs. The couple’s three year old son, Peyton, and one dog would be all they could handle – or so they thought. Ben was led away from the shelter and his best friend, and Jade was left alone in the kennel. This might have been the end to this sad story of two friends saying goodbye, but Ben had other ideas and wasn’t about to be separated from his love.
Parents of human children rarely admit to others that they have a favorite. In my opinion, it’s probably not because they don’t feel a deeper bond with one of their kids. Every human being is a unique individual. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, to feel different things for different people.
One might say there are as many “shades of love” as there are stars in the night sky. So it’s a perfectly natural, human thing to have a favorite child, but most parents won’t admit it because the backlash can be brutal. Recently, one dad blogger received the internet equivalent of being burned at the stake after he confessed to having a favorite child. Society says we’re not supposed to play favorites with our kids. And that goes for our pets, too.
The reality is that some kids and pets are closer to our hearts than others. We may not understand why, but we know it’s true. It is what it is. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t create feelings of guilt. We think we should be able to love them all exactly the same, and we feel bad because we don’t. We can’t change what we feel, though, no matter how much we might want to.
I admit that I feel guilty for having stronger feelings for one of my cats than the other two. I positively adore Mickey and Rocky and would be a hot mess if anything happened to either one of them, but my spirit would be shattered if I lost my sweet Annabelle. I don’t know how (or even if) I could ever get over that loss, because this little cat has touched my heart in a way that I didn’t even know was possible, until one day … there it was. Annabelle is my heart cat. There will never be a cat that I love as much or more than Annabelle. As sure as I know my own name, I know this to be true.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.