With Christmas Holidays approaching and all sorts of personalities and personal histories coming together under one roof, a time of celebration and togetherness can often be a source of stress. We give pet lovers and non-pet lovers tips on how to navigate the silly season.
Non-Pet Lovers: How to understand Pet Lovers
Pet Owners often form quite a close bond with their pets especially if they have been through tough times together, such as long periods of loneliness; such as the highs and lows (and sometimes traumatic times) associated with dating, or when a Partner is a long term shift worker or a long term Fly in Fly Out worker (and they work out at the mines or offshore). The family pet, has been there as a source of comfort at the end of the bed, or curled up on their Owner's shoulder or neck, their constant deep breathing or heartbeat is found to relieve anxiety or loneliness felt by their owner, sending them off to sleep happily. A daily source of affection and unconditional love, as well as exercise motivation and companion and overall helping to improve mental health, as proven in countless studies.
A lot of couples who have experienced the loss of a child through miscarriage (or multiple miscarriages), often also find that pets have helped to heal them and to also fill the void of not having children when society expects them to.
Many Pet Owners who have been abused or neglected as a child or during a relationship have also told us that they chose to rescue a pet who has gone through a similar situation and have said that in return they themselves have ended up feeling they have been rescued by the pet.
Understanding the above reasons, here are some ways to relate to a Pet Owner without offending them:
- Don’t exclude the pet from the Christmas Invite. If you invite your daughter or son to drive to come see you at Christmas time, tell them its ok to bring their dog too if you’re having it in a fenced backyard setting.
- Recognise the love and the happiness the pet brings to your family member. Don’t tell them to “Just stick them in a kennel” and think its going to be taken well. Just because you may have grown up around this person, doesn’t mean they share the same attitudes and feelings as you.
- Your family member sees their pet as an animal that they know and that they have an individual relationship with, so it's not a “thing”, it's another being.
- It’s a financial cost for your family member to do this.
- Kennels can be stressful places filled with caged pets that aren’t used to being caged.
- Give your pet-owning relative enough time to plan. Good Pet Sitters can get booked out months in advance and it can be difficult to locate one within a weeks notice during peak holiday seasons.
- Show some understanding and perhaps use the opportunity to bring up a conversation like “How is Fluffy/Rocko going?”
Pet Lovers: How to understand Non-Pet Lovers
People who are not pet lovers have no or very little attachment to animals. They have probably used friends or family as support to get through tough periods in their life. They don’t like dog fur on their furniture or carpet, and they don’t like that wet dog smell, and the whiff of dog poo or cat wee.
Perhaps the person has had a stressful or traumatic experience being on the receiving end of a dog who has attacked them, weed or pooed on their floor, destroyed their furniture or deprived them of sleep at a key time by barking.
- Don’t allow your pets to just wander through the house you’re visiting. Ask your family member, friend, or neighbour first. Don’t assume. Some people have allergies to pets which leaves their vision blurry & their nose runny for weeks after they've had a pet in their house.
- If you bring your pet, take them for lots of walks to keep their energy burned up.
- Send your pet to the groomers before they visit friends or family, this way loose fur will be groomed away and they are less likely to be smelly.
- Clean up any poop they might do outside, even if its on the grass.
- Take puppy training pads and cat litter trays
- Take a separate bed for them, don’t assume your friend or family member will be okay with them sleeping on your guest bed like they do at home.
- Take adequate toys and chews to distract your pet with so they aren’t barking or destroying things.
- Family members or friends might generalise pets by saying they are intrusive and noisy. Perhaps surprise them by showing them how well trained your pet is.
- Remember table etiquette and don’t feed your dog from your plate. Save some scraps and serve it to them in a bowl after your meal.