Category Archives: love

Is It OK to Love One Pet More?

By Julia Williams

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.

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Millionaires Prefer Dogs to Cats; Should They Reconsider?

By Tamara McRill

As it turns out, the pet most likely to be shedding fur in the lap of luxury may not fit very well on a human lap at all. A recent survey done by the Spectrem Group shows that millionaires overwhelmingly pick dogs as their pet of choice: 58% own dogs, while only 37% are cat owners.

That’s a big difference in pet ownership from the rest of the country. Humane Society statistics show that 39 percent of U.S. households own dogs, while 33 percent own cats. But those households actually own more cats total than dogs: 8.2 million more cats, to be exact. This is because feline households are more likely to have two cats, while canine households are more likely to have only one dog.

So why do millionaires prefer dogs over cats? Are they missing out on something the rest of the country gets about cats?

Looking for Love and Loyalty

One of the theories floating around is that millionaires might prefer the unconditional love and loyalty dogs give them. A love that is unattached to their ginormous bank balance. That is something you’ll certainly get in spades from most dogs.

But here’s a secret most cat owners could tell these millionaires: cats love deeply and faithfully too. Now I don’t know if it takes longer for a cat to become deeply attached to its human, since I have always been a very hands-on pet owner. I do know, from having many cats in my youth, that kitties can love just as fiercely as dogs. Maybe it does come down to having the time to play and bond.

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What Brings Your Pet Joy?

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.

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How Do Dogs Show Their Love?

By Linda Cole

Dogs show us affection in many different ways. Most pet owners recognize their own pet’s love in his body language, and some dogs have unique ways of showing us how important we are to them. One way my Border Collie mix, Keikei, shows her affection is by holding her paw up so we can “hold hands.” There are, however, some common ways dogs show their love.

Doggy Kisses

Some canines give kisses more readily than others, and licking is a common way for them to show their love. Your dog may lick your legs, feet, hands, arms or face. If you have a dog that shows affection by licking your hands, make sure to wash them before preparing or eating food. Don’t allow your pet to lick open wounds you may have. A doggy kiss is fine, but his tongue can transmit bacteria to your hands or an open sore.

The Pied Piper Effect

One sure sign of love is wanting to keep you in sight at all times. Sure, your dog may follow you to the kitchen just in case there’s something in it for him, but he’s more likely following you because he cares. Dogs have an innate protective nature when it comes to pack members, and to our canine friends we are a member of their pack. His natural desire is to follow you and wherever you lead – he will follow. But tagging along because he wants to be near you can also be a sign of separation anxiety. If you notice increased levels of stress before you leave and when he’s home alone, talk to your vet for advice on how to help ease his anxiety. A checkup can rule out any medical issues that could be causing him stress.

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A Cat’s Mother’s Day Letter to “Mom”

By Rocky Williams, feline guest blogger

Dear Mom,

I’ve heard people talking about a special day that was created to honor all Moms. What a great idea! But Momma, I’ve also heard that many human beans don’t think you should be honored on Mother’s Day because you “only” have cats which means “you’re not a real Mom.” Rubbish, I say!

When you rescued me and took me home, I was just a wee lad who fit into the palm of your hand. I don’t remember my other mother, but I do remember the loving care I got from you. Without your “mothering,” I daresay I wouldn’t have survived. You nurtured me and helped me grow into the beautiful cat I am today.

You’ve been my only mother for ten years, and you would never abandon me. Ever. And I know you’d move heaven and earth to make sure I am healthy and happy, for all of my life. Momma, isn’t that the heart and soul of what it means to be a mother?

There are so many things I love and appreciate about you, Momma. For starters, I love that you will sit on half a chair (or less) so as not to disturb me. Some beans would chase their kitty off the chair in order to sit in comfort, but that’s not how you roll! You let your legs fall asleep if I’m curled up on them, and you let me stay on your lap long after you really, really want – or need – to get up. (Sometimes I laugh when I see you frantically racing to your litterbox because, not wanting to disturb me, you’ve waited too long).

Momma, I know I am a lot naughtier than most felines, but I love that you never say “Why can’t you be like other cats?” You accept that being mischievous is who I am, and you don’t try to change me. It’s like that fable of the scorpion who convinces the frog to carry him across the river, promising not to sting him because then they’d both drown. But midway across, the scorpion does sting the frog, who cries “Why’d you sting me?” and the scorpion says “It’s my nature.” You know I can’t help being naughty any more than that scorpion could help stinging the frog, and it doesn’t make you love me any less.

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Can Dogs and Cats Cry?

By Julia Williams

Have you ever seen your pet cry? And by “cry,” I mean actual tears from their eyes as an emotional response. Most people would say no; the general consensus is that animals lack the capacity for such a thing. We know that animals can “tear up” as a result of allergies, dust, upper respiratory infections, pollutants and such, but crying as an emotional response is believed impossible by most.

I don’t really like that word “impossible,” though. It would imply that we humans think we know everything there is to know about the emotional lives of animals. But how can we? Unless we are a dog, we can’t know what is in a dog’s mind or heart. We can form an opinion based on science and personal experience, but I think it would be arrogant for any human to say they know with certainty what emotions a dog or cat is capable of feeling.

Many scientists definitely have their own rigid thinking about the emotional capacity of animals. They base their opinion on carefully controlled research rather than the one-on-one bonding that takes place between people and their beloved pets. But here’s the thing:  a recent study proved that people could tell what emotion a dog was experiencing by looking at photographs of the dog’s face. The photos were taken after introducing stimuli designed to elicit a specific reaction from the dog.

Happiness was correctly identified by 88% of the study participants; anger was correctly identified by 70%. So if we can tell by a dog’s face whether he is happy, angry, sad, surprised or afraid, is it farfetched to believe we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of the emotional capacity of animals? I don’t think so.

Jeffrey Masson, author of the bestselling book When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, believes that animals do lead complex emotional lives. To support his theory, Masson found hundreds of anecdotes from the published works and field studies of noted behaviorists, including Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Cynthia Moss.

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