Unconditional love. Devotion. Mood lifter. Warm, fuzzy and always there for you. If you hear those phrases and your mind conjures an image of your dog, cat or other feathered, finned or cold-blooded critter with whom you share your life, you understand the importance of celebrating Pet Awareness Month. November is a time to raise awareness of pets, their importance in our lives, and our duty to keep beloved fur-babies safe, happy, healthy, and loved.
Pets Improve our Lives
There is so much information to cover when it comes to pet awareness, so let’s begin with three ways in which pets enhance our lives.
Health and happiness. Studies have shown that if you share your life with a pet, you may be healthier. Petting an animal has been shown to lower blood pressure; and if you have a dog, you will have to walk her—helping you stay active. When you come home from work or even a shopping trip, your pets will greet you at the door. Being greeted by your loving pet will brighten any mood—even if you’re having a bad day.
Companionship. If you live alone, or if you’re moving to a new city, or if you have an elderly relative who doesn’t get out much, having a pet is a way to ward off loneliness. When you have a dog, you will need to take him or her out for a walk. In addition to improving your health, this may also help you meet people and make connections.
Patience and acceptance. When you have a pet, you become a detective. What does that bark mean? Why is my cat scratching at my blankets? You have to be patient enough to understand the clues your pet leaves. Pets reward your patience and love with acceptance. Your pet doesn’t care if you have a bad hair day. Your pet doesn’t mind if your boss yelled at you. Whether you live in a mansion or a tiny house or an RV, your pet doesn’t care. He is happy to just be with you.
Finding the Perfect Pet
During Pet Awareness Month (and beyond), you may be thinking of how to find the perfect pet for you and your family. A Great Dane might be perfect for your friend, but a Chihuahua may turn out to be the perfect pet for you. (Just as a dog might be just what you need, a cat may be what your best friend desires most.)
Here are a few things to consider when finding the perfect pet:
How much time do you have to devote to a pet? Dogs require a time investment and do best when not left alone for long stretches of time. Dogs are pack animals and you are your dog’s pack, so they’d prefer to be with you rather than alone. Contrary to popular belief, cats enjoy being around their humans too. And while they can be left alone, they thrive with your companionship.
How much space do you have for a pet? Some birds take up a lot of space and if you don’t have room to accommodate a large cage, you may opt out of a bird and get reptiles or fish. If you live in a small apartment that doesn’t have any grassy areas nearby you may want to start out with a small or medium sized dog rather than, say, a Great Dane. Look for a pet that is size-appropriate for your living space.
How much money do you have to spend on pet care? Some dog and cat breeds are more costly to raise and keep healthy. Do your research. If there is a dog or cat you covet, be sure to research health problems inherent to its breed. Remember, the first year of pet ownership is usually costlier, especially if you’re getting a puppy.
How much time and knowledge do you have to devote to training your pet? All dogs benefit from training whether it’s for agility or to help them be a good canine citizen. You will want to train your cats to scratch a post rather than your furniture.
Do you want to get a puppy or kitten or adopt an older pet? With a puppy, you know you will need to devote time and money to raising and training. The same goes for a kitten. If you adopt an older pet, they already have a developed personality. The shelter may not be able to tell you everything about the older animal’s past, but an older dog or cat is more of a known entity, than a rambunctious puppy or kitten—and that may appeal to you more.
There is a lot about which to be aware during Pet Awareness Month and while we have simply just brushed the surface, this should give you enough insight to help you become aware of your pet and the benefits they bring to your life.
Editor’s Note: Choosing to share your life with a cat can be an incredible bonding experience, but don’t get caught off guard with their care costs. Consider the cost of cat ownership before bringing your feline companion home.
Robbi Hess, award-winning author, is multi-petual: She shares her home with two Devon Rex kittens, three adult rescue cats, a mini poodle, a Goldendoodle, three lizards and two ferrets. When not caring for her pets, she is an editor, speaker, time management and productivity guru, content creator, social media manager and blogger. She writes at All Words Matter, My Divas Dish, and is the story editor and chief cat herder at Positively Woof.