By Lauren Taylor
For humans, pets are only there for a part of the human’s life. But for pets, humans are there for the pet’s entire life.
“Many people believe that humans are superior to animals, but is that really true? We’re not able to come close to possessing the pure and perfect unconditional love that animals offer. If we could, we’d have no need for this day … because all the shelters would be empty,” Colleen Paige noted.
Paige is a Pet and Family Lifestyle Expert, as well as the creator of National Pet Day, founded in 2006 and celebrated on April 11, 2019. This animal welfare advocate wanted to bring joy and celebration to the pets that provide people with so much in their everyday lives. Paige wanted to grow the awareness of animals in shelters around the globe and to bring forth the benefits to what pets of all shapes, sizes, color, and species can do for people.
Lauren Taylor, a loving dog mom, says, “Owning my dogs has helped me grow as a person. Knowing I have two living souls other than myself to care for brings great responsibility and joy to my life. My dogs depend on me, and I depend on them. My two dogs, Maggie (Great Dane Lab mix) and Grizzly (Husky Lab mix), love me unconditionally, no matter the mistakes I have made. They are always there for me and cheer me up on the worst days. I know I can always count on them to listen to me as well, because well … they are dogs and they will not go tell anyone else!”
When speaking with the Clint Ary, DVM and Assistant Director of Animal Science at the University of Tennessee at Martin, he says there are many benefits to having pets. “Pets can act as social lubricators. They serve as great conversation starters and help get people out of their houses and into their communities. Some pets, such as dogs, help people to get more exercise. There are other health benefits, like decreased blood pressure and cholesterol levels, that have been attributed to pet ownership but may be more related to socioeconomic status,” Ary said.
Kelcee McMillin of Martin, a lifelong bird owner, says this about why birds are their family pet of choice. For us, having a pet that needs to be taken out daily is difficult with our busy schedules. Our birds have helped in teaching my youngest son, who shows symptoms of behavior and hyperness, how to calm down and listen since he wants to learn how to handle the birds and teach them to talk and play. Iggy, our macaw loves playing ball with the kids, just like a dog would. She talks to them and enjoys following them around the house. My children are learning to care for something besides themselves, and are learning more responsibility since they are not able to leave things lying around the house — birdy beaks love to chew on EVERYTHING,” MicMillin added.
Aside from inside house pets, there is another category of outside pets that are perfect for National Pet Day as well. One animal in that category is a horse. Cheyenne Johnson, a devoted horse owner, gives some input about her life owning horses.
“Buddy, my horse, has taught me time management and responsibility. I used to show Buddy as a show horse for 4-H. With that came the responsibility of feeding, grooming, and ensuring his health to make sure he was in top condition for showing. I cared for him just like a child; in this case, he is my child,” Johnson shared.
The ASPCA estimates 70-80 million dogs and 74-96 million cats are owned in the US. Not far behind them are fish, birds, reptiles, turtles, and gerbils. Many Americans consider their pets a vital member of the family. Even if people do not have a pet on National Pet Day, there are many ways they can help out. Volunteer at a local shelter, assist pet owners in need of food and supplies, and maybe think of adopting an animal of their own are just some of those ways to celebrate pets.
Dr. Ary gives advice for people who are looking to get a pet of their own, “Take some time and consider your lifestyle before settling on a specific type of pet or breed. It is an important decision that affects two lives, not just one.”
“A bird isn’t an ‘easy’ pet. They are cool, and can be taught very neat tricks. But, most birds have a lifespan of 30-80 years. They require lifelong commitment and are a part of the family. Before someone decides to make the commitment of adding a bird to their family, they should do heavy research. Volunteer at a shelter for avian pets before making the decision. Visit the bird more than once before bringing home. If they have young children, put that into consideration. Not all birds talk, so if that’s the reason for wanting a bird, consider if you will keep it as a part of your family if it decides to never talk,” McMillin offered.
Taylor adds in advice for people thinking of getting a dog, “Before you go and pick out a dog, make sure you are financially, emotionally, and physically ready for one. You have to take them for regular vet visits (especially as a puppy). There is heartworm testing and medicine, as well as potty training them. This process takes time, just like having children. They can’t just be chained up outside or kept inside all day either; they need daily exercise and interaction. Most importantly, they need love.”
When owning livestock and larger animals like Johnson does, there are precautions one should take before acquiring one as well.
“You need to make sure you are financially and socially ready to own a horse. You must have the money to keep up with vetting, supplies, feed, and boarding (if they are not staying on your land). You also need to have the time to spend with them daily and make sure to not leave them unattended for long periods of time. They are a lot of responsibility and you need to do your research on them to make sure you can handle it, as well as get the right one for you,” Johnson explains.
Pets come in many shapes, forms, sizes, colors, and species. One thing for sure is that when deciding on a pet for you or the family, make sure to do your research and understand what it takes to give that pet a good home. Pets are family members to many people, and some pets go unnoticed and underappreciated. Today, on National Pet Day, give some extra love to your pet. Take them for a walk, give them a special treat, share your pet’s picture on social media and educate people on why your pet is so wonderful. Maybe that will encourage others to get pets as well.
To gather more information on National Pet Day visit, www.nationalpetday.com. If you are interested or considering getting your own pet, talk to one of the pet resources in Weakley County: A to Z Vet Supply, Weakley County Animal Clinic, and Country Pet Resort and Spa.
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