by Barry KuKes
Do you sign greeting cards on behalf of your pets? I do. I gave my wife flowers and a card wishing her a happy birthday, and I signed it, We Love You, Barry, Bentley, Spencer, and Mini-Cooper.
This might seem odd, but I often tell the dogs go to Mom, or Mommy has the treats, etc. My wife also talks to them in this same fashion, suggesting they see Daddy for a cookie or something. Our pets are our family, and we treat them as such. Yes, we also have human children, but both are grown with kids of their own, living in other parts of the country, so we dote on our dogs in their absence.
Do you say, bless you or gesundheit when your pet sneezes? Again, I am guilty of offering this response when my dogs sneeze, and I also ask them other questions like, Are you okay?, Do you want to go outside?, Where’s your toy?, Are you hungry?, What is the meaning of life? and, of course, What are the winning lottery numbers for tonight’s drawing? The general response I get to these questions is a jumping and excited dog wanting to please me. They may not know the winning lottery numbers for the next drawing, but their response is a simple smile and wag of the tail. I think they are saying, I am the meaning of life. I am love. I am faithfulness. I am loyalty.
Just this morning, I had conversations with all three dogs. I told Bentley to stop licking, Mini-Cooper to stop jumping, and Spencer to go outside and make potty beyond the newly laid sod instead of on it. Bentley listened, MC kept jumping, and Spencer took a pee on the new sod. I have conversations with my dogs; I didn’t say they always listen.
Having a pet to talk to is vital to being happy and escaping loneliness. I am sure some pet-less people will state that they are very happy without an animal in their life, but most people I know smile more when a pet is nearby. To each their own; my life would not be complete if I didn’t have a pet.
It’s been proven that petting a dog or cat will calm a person struggling with PTSD, high blood pressure, depression, and other mental health challenges. Pets keep you engaged and active. You need to care for your pets, so pets get you moving to clean up after them, feed them, play with them, take them for a walk or a ride, and more.
As to the mental health benefits, sharing your thoughts and decision-making process with a pet can be very beneficial. Although they may not answer you or offer advice, they listen without judgment, and you can talk out loud without questioning your sanity.
The other day, I watched Mini-Cooper playing outside when a butterfly decided to get in on the action. MC was chasing the butterfly’s shadow on the lawn as it flew above him. They played like this for about a minute; then, MC laid down. The butterfly glided overhead and landed on Mini-Cooper’s head. Cooper was wagging his tail as he looked cross-eyed for the butterfly.
It was a magical moment that came and passed before I could pull out my phone to capture some video of the encounter. Fortunately, I still have the memory of this day, and I smile every time I recall the incident. When I told my wife about the encounter, she asked MC a barrage of questions. Did you make a new friend today?, Did you have fun playing with Mr. Butterfly?, What are the winning lottery numbers for tonight’s drawing? (You never know. One of these times, they may bark out, 6, 12, 15, 24, 27, and 30. It doesn’t hurt to ask.)
If you live alone, consider adopting a pet. You would be helping an abandoned animal find their forever home, and you would have a companion to spend time with. Many people who adopt often say, Who saved who? once they realize how important a pet can be to one’s daily life. Help yourself and an animal today. Please, adopt, don’t shop.
Barry KuKes is the former community outreach director at Halifax Humane Society. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org View more of his work at minicooperproduc tions.com