We pet people wake up to unconditional love every single day. The glad of it all is in the wonder we see in our dog's eyes, the trust our cat gives us, the cuddles and laughter from all those other pets that show people why life is worth living. It's worth living to be a part of something greater than you - the care of these amazing, trusting, loving creatures we share our lives with.
Once upon a time, humans did not know love or empathy or the kind of trust you get from a pet. Today, we know the glad of it all...we embrace it daily.
I read a great article this week called "Veterinary Teams - Show Your Empathy". It was written by Debbie Boone, who is a veterinary consultant. (I'm not sure what that is... has anyone else heard of this career path?) Her post was an eye-opener. She discussed the need for veterinary practices to treat the humans along with the pets. In her case, it was mostly dogs, I think. She showed a lovely photo of a dog and a human holding hands/paws.
I love this sentence in her post:
Ignorance is not a crime – lack of empathy for our fellow humans should be. Learn to TEACH not JUDGE.
It's so easy to be us, isn't it? We shower our animals with the proper care and respect, and love. Lots of love. We believe the love us back. We rage against those who do otherwise. Some of us rage against those who feed their pets grocery store food. Or, who don't notice distress or injury in their animal immediately.
I agree with Debbie Boone - sometimes, others who have pets don't have our education or even desire it. Their pet is just that. A pet. Loved in its own way, but not as treasured as our pets. That's sad, but it's not something to point fingers at. Those folks need education. If they can't afford the special diet or raw diet or whatever WE feed our pets, (Emily gets great food from Only Natural Pet), it's proper to use a grocery store product. I know folks like this and they have an adopted pet that would be languishing in a shelter, had they not taken the pet into their home. I don't fault them for not having the budget to go to places like Only Natural Pet, although... with education they would learn it's not as expensive as they think!
While I am a big proponent of understanding the human-animal bond, and I desperately want people to understand what they are getting when they adopt from a shelter, I do not think I need to be someone else's conscience.
I need to be front and center in the education of how to be a good pet parent, and I also think I need to help bring more folks to this concept (learning to be a good pet parent), because so many think food and shelter, and an occasional pat on the head, is all that is needed. They aren't awful people. They are just a little clueless.
In the end, isn't it up to us all to talk more about the human-animal bond? About the glad of it all? Isn't it up to us, as a community, to teach and educate and be a little more understanding, so we don't turn people off to our message?
What can our community do collectively? I am pondering that question. Your input is welcomed in the comments below.