What does my animal family know about my life?
It may be a lot more than you realize.
Meet Mylo. He's now in spirit. That doesn't stop him from communicating with his person Kerry.
Animals, with dogs especially coming to mind, excel at "beginner's mind." The concept that each time is like the first time: the repetition of an event, situation, or experience never gets old, tired, boring or dull, yet brings the same exquisite delight of joyful discovery as the initial experience.
Dogs display a beginner's mind approach greeting their animal guardians. Whether you've been away all day at work, on vacation for seven days, or outside taking out the trash for seven minutes, dogs greet you with exuberance, enthusiasm, joy, excitement, and appreciation. Young children, like animals, are also expert's of beginner's mind, able to express playful delight at each new experience.
Perhaps beginner's mind is the most powerful example of being present, of being in the now? Today, let's greet our animal family with equal attention, of presence, with a beginner's mind.
Recently, a friend was visiting. While enjoying interacting with one of our cats, they mentioned they're considering getting a cat. I asked if they were aware of the commitment, including the financial commitment (especially for a kitten or puppy, being spayed/ neutered and vaccines) involved in caring for an animal family member. We talked about the option of fostering, a fixed short-term commitment, to assist in their decision making re: a longer term commitment.
Many people think about the happy and fun aspects of having an animal companion. It can be easy to forget animal family members are your dependents and require more than love. They need regular and daily play, mental stimulation, outdoor time (for some), committed care when they are sick and/or old (many animal companions are disgarded, due to illness or age, in our disposable society), healthy food and water, bedding, basic supplies (crates, leashes, dishes, toys, litter boxes, etc.).
Many people enjoy having animal companions. Some people adopt animals because they like the way an animal looks. An important consideration in adopting any animal is species influence. What is species influence? It means that a breed has distinctive traits which it cannot ignore. Another way of saying this? Breed temperament. For example a Border Collie is a highly energetic working dog. A Bernese Mountain dog may enjoy work but does not require as much exercise. Before adopting an animal companion it is important to research the breed for compatibility with your lifestyle. If you want a quiet cat, you would be best to avoid a Siamese! If you want a relaxed dog, you would be best to avoid a Husky! When people adopt an animal companion based on considerations other than species influence then a lifestyle conflict might be the result. Do your homework and your animals will thank you!
Today, I want to talk about sleeping locations and beds for your cats and dogs. Our animal companions spend more hours sleeping than we do. Mutiple locations and beds are ideal for cats and dogs. Animals, like people, have varied preferences for their sleeping arrangements. Social animals often enjoy having a bed, blanket, or basket in the centre, or main living area, of the home. It is also important for cats and dogs to have access to a quiet location they can retreat to, as so often their movements are influenced by what we do. Cats may enjoy high (shelves in clothing or linen closets) or low (a basket under a table) resting places, or both. If your dog sleeps in a crate, experiment with placing a blanket over the top and sides of the crate. If you live with several animal companions, you may notice they enjoy sleeping in one another's beds, or not! Pay attention to their preferred surfaces (beyond ease of cleaning for you), such as blankets (fleece, wool, cotton). Your animals will thank you!
Today feels like spring - a perfect day to talk about spring cleaning! Whether your animal companion sleeps in their own bed, your bed, a crate, a basket, or other, I'd like to to think about how much time your animal(s) sleep on their bed. Animal companions, both cats & dogs, spend a lot more of their daily 24 hours sleeping than humans. What they sleep on is important (and I'm talking more than comfort), particularly what you use to your wash their (or yours, if they sleep on your bed) blankets/ towels/ bedding.. Consider using gentle, unscented products (as opposed to strong, harsh chemicals and highly synthetic products). Another laundry product to skip is dryer sheets - full of chemicals which are absorbed into the bedding which your animals lie in hours each day. Your animals will thank you!