by Barry KuKes
Does your pet spend long periods of time alone? Maybe you work or volunteer 8-10 hours a day, and your pet is left alone. Some pets get lonely, while others do not. Dogs, especially working-class dogs like herding dogs, need to stay busy. Being left alone for long hours without a job to keep them engaged can take a toll on their well-being and inspire them to get into mischief.
Cats, although usually very independent, do get lonely. You can tell if your cat is lonely if they sleep more than usual, start acting up and misbehaving, not using their litter box, etc.
Birds can also get lonely. You can tell if a bird misses you by how they react when you are with them. If you walk into the room where the bird is kept, and they begin to chatter and sing, they are happy to see you, and thus we can conclude that they have missed you.
The reason animals miss their human owners can vary. Some of the time, it is because they are hungry. I had a cat that would watch out the sidelight window by our front door, waiting for someone to come home. As soon as that cat saw our car, we could see him meowing. He would run to the kitchen, jump up on the counter, and wait. As soon as we entered the house, he would give us a good talking to and would not settle down until we filled his food dish.
Other reasons for pet loneliness include lack of playtime, human interaction, the environment (including temperature and darkness), and boredom.
It is said that most pet fish and reptiles don’t exhibit signs of loneliness, yet I believe that some do. A friend of mine has a large saltwater fish tank, and his fish follow him when he walks by the tank and appear to identify him in a crowd. Who knows, maybe some fish do get lonely.
It is said that animals have no sense of time nor the sense of death. They don’t know they will die someday. They can sense when they are close to dying, and they will isolate themselves and retire to die. Dogs will tend to run away for the very first time when they are preparing to die. Yet the time an animal does have with their pet parent is very precious, and they try to make the most of it.
The next time you are with your pet, spend a few extra minutes with them—a belly rub, a pat on the head, a longer walk, a brushing, etc., is not asking a lot. Unless a turtle or African parrot that can live to be one hundred, your pet only lives a fraction of the time compared to the average human life expectancy. A pet loves to spend time with its human family. Make time for your pet before they are gone.
Remember, adopt, don’t shop.
Barry KuKes is the Community Outreach Director for the Halifax Humane Society in Daytona Beach. He can be reached at 386. 274.4703, ext. 320, or at barryk @halifaxhu manesociety.org