Companion Animals

Filed Under: Life

There have been numerous studies about how companion animals enrich our lives. From children having stronger immune systems in houses with a pet, to the therapeutic effects a companion animal can have after the loss of a spouse.  They are a vital part of the daily lives of a large portion of the population.  There is no way you can measure the value of a companion animal, and in return for this benefit, we should make sure we are taking the animal’s needs into account, short and long term.

There are many pets that truly are companion animals, doggedly determined to keep us active and engaged.  When a pet comes to you, looking up with those puppy dog eyes, longing to go out for a walk, it’s a lot harder to say no to some exercise.   For many people, they are cross between a personal trainer and a reminder on your phone, and far more effective that both of those.

For people dealing with loss, there is no denying the presence of a faithful companion through times of stress in invaluable.  I’ve had people tell me having a pet gives them a reason to get up in the morning, or to get out of the house, when otherwise there is just no motivation.  This additional support and motivation may be vital for just a short time, or for the rest of their lives.  But it can be a real and vital part of living a better, longer life.

Unfortunately, sometimes this doesn’t work out, and we end up with pets that are either neglected or displaced.  Many people, or their loved ones, decide that adding a pet into their lives will fill a void, and encourage them to exercise, or keep them company.  But when the animal arrives, they find that they do not have the time or energy to keep up with the pet, especially if it is a new puppy that requires training. 

When bringing a pet into a household, we need to plan of all contingencies.  When the pet has been part of the family for many, many years, finding it a family member to take over care is not usually a problem.   But when it is a recent addition, brought in for the purposes above, and if the training wasn’t able to be accomplished properly, it can end up being quite the burden for someone to take on.  Too many times I have heard of people passing away, and a dog ends up in the shelter because no one in the family can or will take over care of the animal.  

So, when adding in an animal into our household (another topic, “Adopt don’t shop” coming soon), it is always a great idea to ensure that there is a contingency plan in place for the animal.  Not just finding it a home in case of tragedy, but also ensuring that the animal will get proper training and care once it arrives.

There are many ways of making sure that such a pet is taken care of and prepared for if its situation changes.  There are plenty of training classes, or trainers that will come into the home, that will ensure that the animal is properly trained.  Sometimes, a pet will get spoiled, and while it may seem cute and harmless, a spoiled animal is a lot harder to find a home for than a well trained one.  It may be the difference from having multiple people volunteering to take over care of the animal and having to find one person to saddle with the care of the pet. 

While in care, the pet’s needs for exercise and socialization are also important to address. If the caregiver realizes they can’t take the pet for appropriate walks, there are other options.  Doggy daycares are popping up all over, and a few days a week can make a huge difference to the socialization of the pet.  Another option is hiring a dog walker, either a professional or finding a neighborhood kid that wants to earn a few extra bucks.

Making plans for our loving companions is important, for all they give us, they deserve the few moments it takes to plan for them as well.

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