Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Think Twice Before Giving Animals as Gifts

The gift-laden winter holidays are here and many of us are thinking about the perfect gift to give someone special.  Many of us prefer gifts that will be relevant and enjoyed the whole year through.  We often consider giving a cute kitten, cuddly pup, or other adorable baby animal to the people we love.  It might be a good idea to think twice before giving animals as gifts, though.  You can't just slip them on and off like a new sweater or bracelet.  There's no place in the toy box for them and their batteries never wind down.

No matter how well you think you might know a person or understand the inner workings of his or her household, you really don't, especially when it comes to the giftee's interest or ability to provide the appropriate year-round home for an animal.  The presence of other pets in the household isn't necessarily a sign there's room for another, either.  Sometimes enough is enough and that's a decision only the members of a family can make.

My favorite dictionary says a pet is a domestic or tamed animal or bird kept for companionship or pleasure and treated with care and affection.  No matter how cute that animal looked to you at the store, shelter, or wherever it is you saw it, the receiver of your generosity may prefer to care for diamonds or pearls, may show more affection for video games or chocolates.  Others may feel more affection for a new set of golf clubs than they'll ever feel for a new pet.  And there's just no pleasure to be found cleaning up after, feeding, and tending to a pet when a pet wasn't really wanted in the first place.

Pets are wonderful gifts but only when the pet is going to a home where it will be appreciated as much as the pet appreciates the home.  Many animals find new homes during this last month of the year but shelters experience population booms in the first few months of a year, thanks to those furry, fuzzy, or feathered holiday gifts.

If the need to give a pet as a holiday gift is just too compelling to deny, make sure that pet goes to a home where you know it will be treated with all the comforts and affection it deserves.  Give it to someone in your own household.  And be prepared to become its primary caretaker once you do.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pet Scoop Gazette

Pet scoop gazette - TQUCAAS955YA

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gotta Pet? This Ain't News

Is yours one of the 63% of American households that's home to a pet?  If so, you'll probably not understand what's newsworthy about the results of a study published today in the journal, Family Process, that concludes with the findings that the animal-human bond is generally undervalued where our mental health is concerned and that living with an animal companion (no, not your little brother!) meets many of the psychosocial needs of us human animals (yes, your little brother).  Why isn't this newsworthy?  Because you probably knew it already.

Nevertheless, Dr. Froma Walsh's study makes it official:  pets reduce our levels of stress; provide us with companionship, comfort, security, and affection; and give us an abundant dose of unconditional love in the process.  All these nice things our pets do for us improve our health, both mentally and physically.  They also just might keep us alive longer than if we lived without them.  Walsh is a clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Chicago's Center for Family Health.  She oughta know.

Living with a beloved animal companion may seem perfectly natural to us but we know that other people, even some with pets, may think we animal-lovers have issues with human interactions, are dysfunctional, maybe even rather strange but Walsh's study dispels those assumptions.  It also highlights the fact that our grief over the loss of a pet is trivialized by society in general and that many of us prefer our animal companions to our human ones.

Even more enlightening is the Walsh study's conclusion that people enjoying strong animal-human bonds are compassionate, empathetic, and have an immense capacity for love.

Betcha knew that too!