A lot of us who have pets—dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, fish, lizards, or whatever—tend to think of them as family, if not children with fur, feathers, or scales. Even then, as much as we love our pets, we can all tend to get swept up in our day-to-day work, errands, and activities. This can sometimes make it difficult to truly appreciate our pets, especially if we only see them as additional responsibilities on days that are particularly hectic. Thanksgiving seems like the perfect day to remind everyone of everything that our pets actually do for us.
If you ask people what they enjoy most about their pets, the typical answer is that it’s nice to have a happy face always there to greet them upon returning home. Since that’s something we can all seem to agree on, I wanted to delve deeper into what makes pets so special to our lives, my hope being to get us all thinking more about why we should appreciate them throughout the year instead of just at Thanksgiving.
At Executive Pet Services, we obviously have an innate love of animals that compels each of us to do our jobs. A person lacking that passion would likely find themselves too burned out from a day of constant animal contact to truly enjoy their own pets when returning home. So who has a better appreciation for their pets than those on the Executive Pets Services team?!
Pet Care Specialist Makenzie cited unconditional love as one of the top reasons she is grateful for her pets, both receiving and providing it. Her cats taught her a lot about patience, which, in a fast-paced society like ours where we’re used to getting everything instantly, is becoming a gradually rarer virtue. As Makenzie explained, cats can have a tendency for bossiness and wanting things done their way, which means, as their humans, taking the time to learn their different personalities and figuring out the best ways to work with them. Along similar lines, Makenzie felt that learning about personal boundaries from her cats helped her learn the importance of respecting boundaries in human relationships.
Some people are solely “dog people” or “cat people,” but Makenzie is an equal friend to both. Though the animals often display distinctly different behavior, Makenzie has learned as much from her dogs as she has her cats. She credits her dogs as helping develop her personal growth as both a child and an adult. She found that sharing a home with dogs often feels like sharing a home with human kids, as dogs require a same sense of work, patience, and teaching as children do. Makenzie expressed how utterly rewarding it is to watch a dog succeed at a new trick or command you’ve been working on together. Dogs wear their hearts on their fur like spots, and as Makenzie noted, the pride in their progress is evident when they get excited to show you what they’ve learned.
Brenton, Pet Care Specialist, owner, and leader of Executive Pet Services, discussed how his two dogs have helped shape his family. Like Makenzie, Brenton felt that his dogs taught him a lot about unconditional love, which has been a key factor in shaping his prosperous relationship with his fiancé, Ashley. When Brenton and Ashley lived in rural Ohio, they managed a farm, and their dogs, picking up on the cues of their humans and following their commands, helped them out with several tasks there, oftentimes lightening their workload as well as a human would be able to. In both the country and the suburbs, Brenton has enjoyed that his and Ashley’s dogs are not only excited when they return home, but clearly annoyed when they leave the house without them. To Brenton, it has been humbling and heartwarming to see his dogs care so much about his presence to an extent that was never matched by any of his past pets. One of his dogs, Bentley, even sounds like the Star Wars character Chewbacca when saying “hello.”
When Brenton and Ashley first brought their dogs home as young puppies, Brenton realized they were furthering their relationship by progressing from a couple to a family, as the dogs were their first “kids.” The dogs played key roles in helping them prepare for human children, testing them with the need to be raised with house rules and behavioral expectations. The dogs have since become companions and caretakers of Brenton and Ashley’s human kids, putting up with their toddler antics and providing gentle play with them. One of the dogs, Layla, demonstrates distress when the kids cry, helping Brenton and Ashley stay on the alert. Both Bentley and Layla have also shown they will protect the children if necessary, which became apparent to Brenton when they barked at a strange dog that approached the kids on a walk. This is something that has given Brenton better peace of mind.
As for me, Pet Care Specialist and human to two dogs and two cats, I definitely agree with Makenzie and Brenton about how vital my pets have been to learning about unconditional love. My oldest dog, Sheila, is seventeen and has been with me since she was a puppy and I was a ten-year-old child. She has been with me through several stages of life, helping me through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and even solidifying my commitment to my fiancé, Robert. Robert and I have been together since high school, and the first time Robert met Sheila, he was a little apprehensive when it came to dogs. She jumped up to greet him and he turned away, but as the two got to know each other over the next few years, they came to acquire a deep affection for each other. I even think Sheila may have come to prefer Robert to me, which is fine because I’m just happy to see she loves him as much as I do. Robert, meanwhile, has gone above and beyond to help and protect Sheila, from cooking her various meals to appease her picky appetite to rushing through traffic to get her to the emergency vet when she was injured.
In addition to how many ups and downs Sheila has been there for with me for so long, all of my pets have provided unbeatable companionship that I don’t experience with humans. I’ve always been an introvert and a creative writer, and as such, I often find that I have limited energy when it comes to people. There are plenty of people I like and enjoy, but social interaction is genuinely tiring for me, and after a while, I need to be alone to do my own thing and “recharge.” This is an ongoing internal conflict, as I don’t want to be lonely, but don’t want to have to focus on conversation. Living with dogs and cats allows me to enjoy a sense of love and bonding without depleting my energy. My pets don’t expect anything of me other than food and the physical interaction of cuddling and play. They even help ease my anxiety. My younger dog, Flash, and my younger cat, Jazz, both seem to be in tune with my stress levels, as they will often curl up alongside me when I’m in a particularly negative mood.
I honestly feel like I could write pages and pages about why I’m grateful for my pets. They do so much to enhance my life, and it’s clear from what people like Makenzie and Brenton said that pets have heavy impacts on others as well. Despite my life getting busier and busier, I consistently make a conscious effort to think about how happy I am to have my pets, especially as my childhood dog ages. It’s easy to forget that pets don’t live as long as people do, but my hope is that Thanksgiving will remind people of all that our pets truly do for us.