I always smile inside when a client tells me, “You know, back when I was growing up, we had dogs, but they stayed outside. My parents wouldn’t believe that my dog now sleeps on the bed and that I’m bringing her to a specialist!” These types of sentiments are commonplace at my office and cause me to reflect on how our relationships with animals have changed over the years. Specifically, is this relationship mutually beneficial, or is someone getting the short end of the bone?
Since the 1960s, when I grew up, a lot has changed, which impacts our relationships with animals. Check out the following differences:
As a result of these changes, we have become increasingly dependent on our animal companions for support. It is often our animals who travel with us from place to place and are our constant companions throughout the years. The burdens that we place on animals are now greater than ever.
How can we do better at living up to our end of the bargain? How can we be better companions ourselves? I suggest some old and new rules be considered, including the following:
Our society mandates that we master a minimal degree of knowledge via certification or testing in order to operate a vehicle or register a gun. I suggest that a similar screening process be mandated in which information about the husbandry, management, medical care, health problems, and life span of the animal as well as the anticipated costs of guardianship must be read and agreed to prior to any and all animal adoptions.
Animals are stuck in the difficult role of being our primary companions in a world in which humans spend more time alone than ever before. Have we demonstrated an equal ability to be their responsible guardians?
Make your time with your friends and family—including your animal companions—even more meaningful.