This week is National Pet Week! Following on from this is National Be Kind to Animals Week.
If you are fortunate enough to share your life with a companion animal or are considering it, this is the fortnight to focus on what is so special about being an animal guardian or caregiver. Being an animal guardian can be an expensive business, you lose your freedom in some ways, and there is always the potential for heartbreak…. but for myself and millions of other people around the world, sharing your life with an animal friend is just the best.thing.ever.
During the times when I wasn’t able to share my home with an animal because of restrictions with my accommodation, I always felt a little furry void in my life, and I loved it when cats came to visit. Now I share my life with two cats and a dog and I get so much pleasure from their company it far outweighs the poop picking, clearing up cat sick, and other ‘delightful’ jobs that come as part of the package.
Animal companionship has mutual benefits. With the cats, for example, I provide them with food, a nice environment, and fuss on demand, in return I receive, among many things, the pleasure of hearing them purr with happiness sitting on my bed each morning and I can immediately feel my stress levels drop.
Even the responsibilities of living with an animal, like clearing up after them, feeding, grooming, exercising, paying for insurance, veterinary care, and so on, make us just that – a more responsible person. We have a duty of care to these little beings and many people have said that these responsibilities give them a purpose and a reason to keep getting up in the morning even when they are struggling.
Caring for an animal makes us happy. Just stroking or playing with an animal increases our oxytocin levels, the ‘feel-good hormone’. Having a dog companion especially helps keep us fit and healthy.
Being an animal guardian also makes us a more understanding person – we often have to work harder to understand their body language, needs and wishes, and so we become more in tune with other animals and therefore more inclined to respect and protect them.
I certainly didn’t really understand dog body language until I lived with a dog, and now I take much more notice of the body language of other dogs I see out and about. It also improves communication skills, needing to communicate with an animal friend means thinking outside the box, using tone of voice and gestures, and this again helps us open ourselves up and feel more confident communicating with other animals, that’s including humans too!
So if you have a special animal in your life, why not give him or her an extra treat today to show your appreciation? 🐾🐈🐕🐓🐀 🐇