by Barry KuKes
If you are a pet owner and have had a few pets, you may recognize the sweet spot in the life of your pet. It’s that time in their life when everything is great. Typically, the sweet spot is between the ages of 3-6 for dogs and 3-10 for cats.
Although not a long period, the sweet spot is when owners and pets form their strongest bond. Not to say that senior pets don’t have a strong bond with their owners, but senior pets are usually experiencing some health issues by the time they reach their elder years. This progression is expected, and pet owners typically prepare for this time in their pet’s life. The sweet spot is a short window when the pet is healthy, adjusted, listens, obeys, behaves, loves to interact with its owner, and more. Puppies and kittens have yet to learn how to act in their home, and senior pets tend to sleep more than anything else at that stage in their lives. If a senior pet doesn’t get twenty hours of sleep a day, they are worthless the next morning.
The unfortunate part of the sweet spot is that pet owners often don’t realize when they are experiencing it. When their mischievous puppy finally grows out of bad behavior and becomes a prince, the owners are relieved but seldom embrace this time in their pet’s life. One day they are throwing a ball to their dog or playing laser with their cat, and in a blink of an eye, the pet is too old to play or is experiencing health issues and is unable to play like in the past.
My current brood of pets is spoiled rotten, and I pay them a great deal of attention, but many of my pets in past years did not enjoy this same level of attention from me. It wasn’t that I loved them less or didn’t want to be with them. It was because I was building a career, searching for a soulmate, raising a family, etc. I am sad that I spent so much time with casual friends, or traveling for work, instead of being home with my dogs.
Over the years, as I have become much wiser than my former younger self, I have realized what and who are essential in my life. Aside from my wife and son, my pets are next in the pecking order. They should have always been held in such esteem.
Please don’t make the same mistakes I have made in my life. Spend as much time as you possibly can with your pets. All they have are you, and when you come home from being away for thirty minutes or thirty hours, they greet you as if you have been gone for thirty years and show their affection and unwavering loyalty. Consider doing the same for them.
Instead of just a pat on the head, give them a hug, or get on their level and let them crawl on you, giving you their version of hugs and kisses (of course, take into consideration your own health issues and ability to get back up after rolling around on the floor with your pet.)
The time we have on this earth is fleeting at best. Take the time to share your life with those who are most important to you. If your pet is not important to you, then now may not be the best time for you to have a pet. When I was in my twenties and thirties, I was not the best pet parent. I recognized that in my forties, and I have been the best pet daddy ever since.
Many seniors spend every day, all day, with their pets. Even if your pet is lying at your feet as you read or watch television, they feel close to you and loved. It sure beats lying on a thin blanket in a noisy animal shelter. If you don’t share your life with a pet, please consider it, and you may be asking yourself in a few weeks, “who saved who?” Please remember to adopt, don’t shop.
Barry KuKes is the former Community Outreach Director for the Halifax Humane Society.