Adding a pet to your life brings joy and companionship that warms your heart and soul. Let them be your best friends in your life journey.
It's proven that having a pet can be good for you in many ways. This is especially so if you are alone, homebound, staving off loneliness and isolation. They also provide a routine, an outlet for your caring and compassion, and a reason to get out walking as exercise when you have a dog. https://www.rd.com/advice/pets/benefits-having-pet/
As a prospective pet parent, young or old, the decision to bring a pet into your home (if you don't already have one) should not be made lightly. What type of pet is suitable for your lifestyle and living arrangements should be thoroughly thought out. Are you financially able to pay for your pet? (food, medication, doctor visits etc) Do you have sufficient mobility and cognitive ability to look after your pet? And, have you thought about what would happen to your pet should you pass away or otherwise be unable to care for your pet in your home? There are outreach organizations that can help with medical expenses and food, but they are few. If you fall on hard times, will you stand by your pet who's been your best friend, or will you have to relinquish it to the local shelter where it may be euthanized?
The United States has an over-population of homeless pets which are sitting in shelters Nation-wide facing death if not adopted or rescued. There are many ways to help these homeless pets - volunteering at a shelter or rescue organization, donating to rescue organizations, fostering through a shelter or rescue organization, or adopting outright. Any of these options can help you interact with pets, get out of the house and help save homeless pets from euthanasia. Opening your heart and home to a homeless pet is a way to warm your soul and your heart.
Check in with your local shelter and rescue organizations for volunteering, fostering and adoption opportunities. Be a compassionate advocate for homeless pets. Endorse pet adoption vs. buying from breeders. As the saying goes "Adopt, don't shop" https://www.aginginplace.org/seniors-and-pets/
Dog parks are popular with Human pet parents. A perfect place, they believe, where dogs may socialize and run off excess energy, while Human pet parents socialize too. But are they really the place to socialize your pet? Does your pet want to meet other pets? Does it provide the proper socialization for puppies? Well, hold on to your Starbucks: It seems they're not all they're cracked up to be and can actually be a bad idea for your pet. The New York Times, in a recent article, found that "Most dog owners aren’t skilled at reading their dog’s body language beyond a wagging tail, so warning signs that your dog is uncomfortable, unhappy or angry are often ignored." The jury is still out for many pet parents, seems the yeas and nays are on both sides of the dog park fence. Read more here: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/smarter-living/the-dog-park-is-bad-actually.html?searchResultPosition=1
You may want to consider a daycare center for your pet a couple times a week for an alternative to going to the dog park. However, your pet must be well socialized and have the proper vaccinations to attend. It may be worthwhile to research this as it provides a "dog only" space for your pet.
Along with our growing interest in eating right is the trend of feeding our pets correctly as well. No longer will just any food due for them as well. It is recognized now that pets' quality of life, illness and early death can be blamed on eating poorly. There is a website where you can do your pet food research and find out about pet food recalls as well, www.dogfoodadvisor.com Take time to investigate which foods are appropriate for your pet in order to make an informed decision as to which type to feed. And, if you are unable to afford to feed your pet, do research rescue groups, the local shelter and other rescue organizations to see if they will assist you with pet food costs. https://www.thealternativedaily.com/helping-poor-homeless-keep-pets/
Adjust the type of food you are feeding to your pet's lifestyle and activity levels. Add supplements too to help your pet age well.
The year 2020 brings a new challenge for Humanity as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads Globally. In order to fight this virus' spread, Countries are ordering "shelter in place" restrictions on movement outdoors and socially. There's no better time to have a pet by your side to comfort you and provide you company and a purpose during this time. In fact, fostering a shelter pet is one way to "give back" to the voiceless. https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-04-02/requests-to-foster-and-adopt-pets-surge-as-coronavirus-keeps-us-at-home
Be sure that you have plenty of food for your pet, without hoarding, by ordering online. Vets are open as they are determined, in the United States, as necessary to the Country's health system. If you pet falls ill, be sure to follow up with your pet's Vet. Walk your pet and/or housetrain to use training pads indoors. While this time is frustrating, alienating and scary, don't make it so for your pet. Plan for someone to take care of your pet if you do get the virus and must spend time in the hospital. As to the virus, you cannot catch the virus from your pet. The CDC has determined that you may interact with your pet as you normally would - with the caveat that social activities (play groups, dog parks and so forth) are curtailed or prohibited until the virus is eliminated and/or social activity is once again allowed. Do not let your pet run free outdoors, always follow leash laws. For guidance, see this information from UCHealth https://www.uchealth.org/today/covid-19-and-pets-what-you-should-know/
Be compassionate and know that right alongside you, your pet is undergoing stress as well. There's no way to explain why your lifestyle and daily routine is changed, other than by being compassionate and introducing your change in lifestyle as stress-free as possible. For more on the pet pandemic stress see: https://www.capradio.org/articles/2020/04/08/stress-during-covid-19-can-affect-your-dog-or-cat-heres-what-you-can-do/
There is no way for you to explain the pandemic and post-pandemic lifestyle to your pet - the only way you can do this is through compassionately considering your pet as well and introducing it to lifestyle changes in a way it will understand.
Your post-pandemic lifestyle will be definitely changed from the one you had prior. Perhaps you will remain working from home, perhaps you will return to working in an office, a mix of the two, or cease working completely. As a result, your pet's lifestyle will change along with you.
Once the "new normal" is upon us and you change your lifestyle patterns accordingly, be sure to introduce your new schedule and routines to your pet gradually. Doing so abruptly can cause stress, separation anxiety, boredom, even panic. Be kind and introduce your pet to your new regime accordingly.
If you adopted during the pandemic, or were already a pet parent, and were under a "stay in place" restriction, chances are your pet is accustomed to you being home almost entirety and the attention you bestowed upon your pet. If you return to work, there may be an issue with separation anxiety and the unwanted behavior that can be exhibited as a result. Once your stay at home mandate is lifted, it is wise to work with your pet by leaving your home for periods of time, including behavior and potty training. You may wish to consider a dog walker, neighbor, friend or family member to come and check on your pet during the day if you will need to be gone for more than four hours.
For those of you who will be working from home permanently, the change will not be as abrupt for your pet, however it will disrupt your pet's daily routine so make sure that your pet has an area to itself where it can tuck into bed without interruption. Even pets get stressed when Humans are always around when they have been used to snoozing all day in solitude. This is especially true if your children will be schooling from home and around all day as well.
Whatever your lifestyle and routine will be, your pet will be changing along with you. Make that change as stress-free and compassionate as possible.
If you are a pet parent or have flown with animals on board your plane, you are aware of the concepts of Emotional Support Animal and/or Service Animal. There are a great many pet parents who have these animals but there is a distinct different and they generally serve two different functions. And there are a great many pets out there that do not qualify yet their pet parents claim them to be one or the other. There are now laws and regulations for claiming those designations and those that falsely claim them may be fined, among other things. Should you be contemplating using your pet for one of the designations, research them well and understand what you must do and how well trained your pet must be to qualify for that designation(s). See https://esadoctors.com/how-to-certify-an-emotional-support-dog/ and https://usdogregistry.org/?msclkid=6202abc152551561ed82f50c3b95e125 for more information. Please don't purchase a vest for your animal in order to claim Emotional Support or Service Animal status without the proper training and registration in order to get reduced or free transportation for your pet to take your pet with you. It is not worth the risk of your pet suddenly acting uncontrollably once on board and possibly injuring you or a fellow traveler.
Emotional Support Animal - This type of animal emotionally supports an individual that has emotional issues which must be certified by a registered licensed ESA physician. You must receive a letter certifying that your animal will service this purpose.
Service Animal - This is an animal that is necessary for an individual to live with a disability and the animal will assist in or perform an activity that will allow the individual to do so. Training is required above and beyond the basic training for an Emotional Support Animal.
Therapy Dog - You may have seen them in crisis or stressful situations, at the airport comforting passengers or in hospitals comforting the ill etc. These pets are highly trained and must be certified after their training.
UPDATE 12/9/2020 - The US has imposed new service animal restrictions on air travel. See: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/service-dog-community-welcomes-stricter-flying-restrictions/ar-BB1bCffb - many airlines will no longer allow ESAs onboard!
Standing by your senior pet in its golden years is the most compassionate thing you can do as a pet guardian. You wouldn't abandon your aged parents and grandparents and it is the same for a pet who has stood by your side - whether a short time or for many years. Please ensure that your senior pet's remaining days are filled with love and compassion. Be sure to ensure that your pet receives proper medical checkups and attention to alleviate any pain and suffering.
It is, sadly, something a pet guardian must do - say goodbye to a beloved pet. Saying goodbye to your pet when its quality of life has greatly declined is the most humane compassionate thing a Human pet guardian can do. Knowing when is the right time to say goodbye is difficult, it is best to consult with your vet to have them help you know whether your is suffering and it has little or no quality of life.
Do not prolong your pet's life and suffering for your own sake because you just can't emotionally say goodbye - that is inhumane. Please do not dump your senior pet at the shelter to have it euthanized alone, confused and unloved at the shelter. The last thing your pet looks for is its pet guardian before it passes away.
It is emotionally difficult but worthwhile to be with your pet during its final moments, your touch is the last thing your pet will know before it crosses the Rainbow Bridge. Be sure to ask your vet about its euthanasia procedures and protocols. Many vets have special rooms where you may be with your pet to say your final words before your pet will be put to sleep. Vets will want to do a final exam and will not want to euthanize a pet if they determine it is not appropriate. You will need to sign a final waiver acknowledging that there is no turning back once you and your vet have decided to euthanize your pet.
You might want to consider in-home euthanasia if it is appropriate for you to do so. Consider whether other pets in the home, children and significant others may wish to witness the passing of your pet or whether it is something that might be too traumatic for them.
Consider having your pet cremated and the ashes returned to you as a final tribute remembrance of your pet. There are also pet cemeteries where you may bury your pet in a special place.
Consider grief counseling for closure and grief management. It is natural to grieve for a pet and you should find closure and grief a part of saying goodbye. Getting another pet right away may or may not be appropriate and can never replace the pet who as crossed the Bridge.
Sadly, it happens all too often enough that a pet parent is incapacitated or passes away leaving their pet with no advance plan for its care. Oftentimes, the assumption that family will take care of the pet is false, the family members do not want the pet and dump it off at a local shelter to face death if no one adopts, fosters or rescues the pet. Many do not understand that pets do grieve for their missing pet parents and are not equipped emotionally or mentally to withstand even 24 hours in a chaotic shelter environment. Senior pets are most vulnerable and stand little chance of adoption, many times following their deceased pet parents to the grave at the shelter due to lack of interest and overcrowding. By law, pets relinquished at a Los Angeles shelter can be put down in 72 hours if not adopted, fostered or rescued - although the shelters do not regularly follow this practice unless the pet is in very ill health.
You can prevent the sadness mentioned above by doing advance pet planning. Provide for your pet to be taken care of should you not be able to do so yourself. You can do this when you are planning your estate and will. Take initial steps to identify a rescue organization or reliable trusted friend or family member to care for your pet and, if possible, provide funds from your estate to do so.
Don't leave your pet alone, grieving and frightened should anything happen to you. Here is a great publication to help you get started compassionately planning for your pet. https://www.amazon.com/What-About-Dog-Everything-Around/dp/0578565536/ref=sr_1_2?crid=1N6LLQH0RZGZG&dchild=1&keywords=what+about+the+dog+book&qid=1605988999&sprefix=what+about+the+dog%2Caps%2C249&sr=8-2
Are you having problems with your pet? Unable to "train" your pet, feeling overwhelmed, frustrated and possibly thinking about relinquishing it to a shelter? Do you realize that most shelter pets are relinquished to the shelters due to behavioral problems than for any other reason? You owe your pet your compassion to help it resolve the behavioral issues that are unacceptable. You must be a partner to your pet to help it resolve problems and have the patience and dedication to help it be the best pet it can be.
Where to turn for help can range from simple Google searches to using a professional trainer. What type of pet (dog, cat, rabbit, ferret etc.) will dictate what methods you will use to solve your pet parenting problems. No one size fits all when it comes to pet parenting problems. There are no bad pets, only bad pet parents - possibly unaware or ignorant of pet parenting basics or with behavioral expectations that are not realistic. Remember, your pet cannot tell you why it reacts in the way it does. You must be an aware pet parent to know or find out whether your pet has health or behavioral issues that may be the result of traumatic stress or Human interaction.
Start by having your pet examined by your Vet to discuss your pet's behavioral problems. If there are no physical issues, ask your Vet whether they can recommend a trusted trainer you may consult. You may also consult with fellow pet owners, there are many resources on the Internet - but beware, you may further injure or kill your pet by following suggestions found on posts and blogs. Do not resort to harsh training methods on your own - shock collars, pinch collars and the like - as they are considered a last resort training method that should only be used by experienced pet handlers.
A better way is to consult a professional trainer. Research trainers in your area and interview them to see if their training methodologies and approach are acceptable to you. Check out their qualifications and reviews. Remember that training your pet requires your full commitment for successful results!
What type of training? In person at your home? Having your pet reside with a trainer for a period of time? Remote training sessions? In person training during the COVID pandemic is probably not available or offered on a limited basis. Having your pet reside with a trainer for a period of time can be expensive and will require further training once your pet is returned to you, and unless you can replicate the training techniques and commands working with the trainer, this technique may not be the most feasible.
Remote training may just be the way to go and it doesn't have to cost a lot of money, the ease of scheduling makes training easier. You may choose a trainer near you or located outside of your local area. Reputable trainers across the US offer remote training. Judy Tarask of Positively Pet Partners offers the following , "Using the Internet to train your pet is like having the trainer in the room with you! If you're not sure this style of training is for you, a 20 minute 'Try It' session is available to help you determine whether remote learning will work for you and your pet. We also do limited outdoor Social Distancing Sessions to practice leash walking." You can find her on Facebook and online for more information. See https://www.positivelypetpartners.com/
Here is another example of online training courses available, see https://www.udemy.com/course/science-based-dog-training-with-feeling-3days/?matchtype=b&msclkid=4ba1b2cec5c11ea6d755ed324fadf524&utm_campaign=BG-LongTail_la.EN_cc.BE&utm_content=deal4584&utm_medium=udemyads&utm_source=bing&utm_term=_._ag_1216060273095208_._ad__._kw_%2BDog+%2BTraining+%2BClass_._de_c_._dm__._pl__._ti_kwd-76004079319520%3Aloc-190_._li_113080_._pd__._ If you want to take your training knowledge further, consider courses in becoming a certified dog trainer, see https://www.thesprucepets.com/best-online-dog-training-certification-programs-5075147
The key to resolving your pet problems, whether disciplinary or otherwise, is consistency using methods that are directed toward resolving the specific issues you have.
A formal welcome and shout-out to the US new First Dogs of the White House! After four years of a non-pet welcome by a President, the White House has two new FDOUS! Major is a shelter rescue who is giving major kudos to shelter pet adoption. Finally, a first family who values the benefits of pet ownership. Woof! See: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/25/us/politics/champ-major-biden-dogs.html
Pet insurance "sounds" like a great deal, and it does have it's benefits. But before you sign up, be sure to do your homework and consider your financial pet obligations and healthcare needs and treatment cost options.
As with Humans, our pets need routine healthcare and medical treatments, not to mention unforeseen medical emergencies. Pet insurance can help defray the cost of routine healthcare and medical treatments, but it does not cover 100% of the cost of most treatments. Routine office visits, exams, shots and so forth are usually covered - which is an enticement to policyholders to routinely give their pet the routine healthcare it should have. But more expensive treatments are usually covered on a percentage of cost basis. Again, you save some on the expensive treatments but not all of the cost. Pre-existing conditions are not covered by pet insurance, nor the treatments that result from them.
With the above in mind, you will need to review your financial circumstances, do the math and the various plans offered by the multitude of pet insurance companies. You will need to determine the level of insurance and deductible that suits your pocketbook. Even opting for a basic plan with a high deductible might be perfect for you. Most policies are very inexpensive for puppies/kittens and young animals, costing more as the pet ages. Geriatric pets are usually not covered, save for a basic catastrophic policy. Be sure to compare polices carefully. One way to go is to self-insurance, that is, take out a charge card just for your pet healthcare needs and use it only for that. You may save money that way. Also, most pet hospitals also have recommended pet care loan organizations that can provide a loan to cover your pet's expensive treatments. Also check to see if your Vet has a low-cost or senior discounts you can take advantage of. Many rescue organizations also provide assistance with pet healthcare. If you are in Los Angeles, rescues such as LeaveNoPawsBehind has opened a low cost clinic to assist those with financial challenges, and Downtown Dog Rescue assists low income pet owners to care for pet healthcare needs to prevent ailing pets from being relinquished to a shelter (find them both and pet healthcare resources on Facebook), Be sure to check in your area for these healthcare assistance resources. Also see: https://www.pawlicy.com/blog/is-pet-insurance-worth-it/
Remember that, whatever you do, be sure to compassionately give your pet healthcare, even the most basic (shots, checkups etc) - do not let your pet suffer in pain needlessly or have to relinquish it to a vet or shelter to be euthanized because you cannot pay for the care.