There are many types of love; platonic love, unrequited love, but maybe the best love of all, is unconditional love from our fur babies. Whether they’re old or young, still with us or have crossed the Rainbow Bridge, join us in showing some love for our pets this Valentine’s Day.
The importance of pet companionship
During the last 18 months, there has been a huge increase in pet ownership. With so many people now working from home it’s more feasible than ever to have a pet, and for those days in the office, there is an abundance of pet day-care services.
As humans, most of us want to love and be loved in return. Having a pet can help combat loneliness, provide companionship, and give a purpose to someone’s life. So, it’s not surprising that so many people have turned to our four-legged friends for some unconditional love and loyalty.
Often our parents start our journey with pets by buying a hamster or a rabbit. Having a pet is not only fun but a great way to teach young children how to be kind, caring and compassionate and take responsibility for other living creatures. It also helps children learn about life and death.
Ways to celebrate our love for our pets
There are many ways we can show our pets how much we love them and not necessarily by spending money on a new bed, jacket, or toys. If you have some spare time, why not make your pet something different they’ll love to play with? Make them an up-cycled pet-safe toy!
Battersea Dogs and Cats Home have created an easy-to-follow video that talks you through step by step, how to make a ‘Cat Wand’ from one of your old t-shirts. Not only will your cat enjoy pouncing and chasing it, but your fur baby will love its smell too. A truly personal present!
Fun days out together
Now, something for the dogs in the family. Have you ever been to an open-air festival and thought, I’d love to bring my dog here? Well, DogFest 2022 is exactly that. A Festival created by dog-lovers, for dog-lovers! There will be a series of dog-centric festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything doggie, held in 6 locations around the UK, including Cheshire, Warwickshire and Lincolnshire.
The perfect way to treat your dog to his best day out. There’s everything from have-a-go activities, live music (for the parents!), sensational arena displays and experts on hand for all kinds of doggie advice. A great day of tail -wagging fun for the whole family.
For more info go to www.dog-fest.co.uk
The Spa treatment
Who doesn’t love a spa day? Not all dogs would agree a trip to the Spa is a treat, which is why it’s important to introduce them to the grooming experience as early as possible. Start with a basic wash and blow-dry and teeth clean. Once they are comfortable with that, progress to a scissor cut or clip and manicure. After a few sessions you will find most dogs enjoy the attention and pampering.
An alternative way to show you care
There are other ways of showing your love for your pets which you’ve probably never thought of. This month is Spay/Neuter awareness. Entire male cats (those with testicles) are notorious for sowing their wild oats and often get beaten up in the process! Tom cats are extremely territorial and will fight ferociously to defend their patch, sometimes getting quite badly injured. A simple solution to keep your boy safe and happier, is to have him neutered or ‘snipped’ – a quick routine operation carried out by your vet. Your boy won’t even know something is missing, and you might find the annoying, and frankly smelly, indoor ‘territory marking’, will also stop.
Pets sometimes gain weight after neutering as they are much calmer, relaxed and less active, so don’t burn off as many calories. If you are concerned your pet’s waistline is starting to spread a little, there are many good quality calorie-controlled foods specifically made for neutered pets.
Coping with Pet Loss and loneliness
Lives are transformed by the love and companionship that pets bring. But with the good times, come sad times too. One day, we will have to say goodbye, whether that be due to death or separation, and there is little to prepare us for this fateful day. It can be a heart-wrenching and traumatic time and can affect people in many ways. Some people might say ‘it’s only an animal’, but to a pet parent it’s a family member. Their pet may have been their support through dark times and their reason to carry on.
The loss of a pet can bring on feelings of great sadness and inability to cope. If you are struggling with the loss of your pet and no one seems to understand how devastated you feel, don’t despair. There are many pet grief support groups online you can join – a safe place to exchange thoughts and feelings and to open your heart to share your grief with others. In joining a community of people going through the same experience as you, you will soon realise you are not alone. Grief is a natural feeling. Grief is the price we pay for love.
If you feel more comfortable speaking directly to just one person, there are various charities that can help. The Blue Cross have a free and confidential Pet Bereavement Support Service, accessible by phone, email, or web chat.
Showing our love for those who have crossed The Rainbow Bridge
Create a memorial to your fur baby
A few weeks after you have said good-bye to your pet and you hold their collar and water bowl in your hand, you are faced with the difficult decision of what to do with them. If you throw them away it feels disrespectful, if you keep them in the back of the cupboard, they collect dust.
Why not turn them in to a home memorial? Simply take their water bowl and attach their collar to it, add some earth and plant a flower. As it grows it will be a lovely reminder of your happy times together.
If you are going to create one for your cat, the collar will be much smaller, so you might like to buy a ceramic holder, large enough to place your pet’s collar securely around the base, then place a candle inside. Each time you light the candle you can remember the joy and warmth they brought to your life.
Other memorials such as our Treasured Paws boxes or our Ash Jewellery keepsakes are available on our website: www.cpccares.com/shop/
We owe them gratitude
Animals are not just our friends but our savours too. Many brave dogs, horses, mules and even carrier pigeons fought side by side with soldiers in WW1. Some dogs were messengers used to carry important information through the trenches. They killed rats and shared the soldiers’ rations, becoming companions and mascots to the troops.
Other dogs were ‘Mercy Dogs’. Mercy dogs, also known as medical dogs or casualty dogs, were trained by the national Red Cross societies. With their sense of scent and acute hearing, these dogs could detect the breathing of a wounded soldier. A saddle bag containing first-aid supplies and drinking water would be strapped to the dog’s body and it would ferry the supplies to wounded soldiers and comfort those dying, so they didn’t die alone. As many as 10,000 dogs are estimated to have served as Mercy Dogs in WW1, saving thousands of lives. Not all angels have wings, some have four legs and bark.
Today, animals continue to loyally serve us in the Armed forces, and dogs in charities such as Guide Dogs for The Blind, Dogs for Good, and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, to name but a few.
You may not have heard of Therapy Dogs Nationwide, but it is a national non-profit charity where volunteers take their own dog to visit people in establishments such as Hospitals, Special Educational Needs schools, Hospices, Nursing homes and Care homes. Care home residents’ benefit in communication by evoking memories of passed pets, which helps to stimulate conversation. Just to stroke a dog and feel their fur can make such a difference to their day.
Therapy Dogs are also part of the Kennel Club Bark and Read Programme and visit schools to help children develop their reading skills and build their confidence. If you think your pet has the qualities to give comfort and hope to a stranger, you might wish to consider becoming a volunteer. For information about the charity and if your pet would be suitable, you can contact them at www.tdn.org.uk
Pets come into our lives and teach us to be better people. It is our duty to make their short time with us as happy and comfortable as possible. If you are fortunate enough to still have your fur babies with you, next time you see that chewed piece of furniture or scratched sofa arm, try not to get annoyed, one day you’ll look back and smile.