Saturday, March 8, 2014

Do pets have pets? and other food for thought

Phil and Petri hanging out.
The concept of "pethood" is an interesting one. Not every client I see identifies the animal that accompanies them as a "pet". Some won't use the word "owner". The term "companion" may be used but it can sound a little awkward or contrived. On Wikipedia, a pet is defined as something kept for a person's company or protection...though this definition fails to capture the diversity of relationships I see with pets.

This week I met a client who bought his second dog as a pet for his first. Dog one, a standard poodle cross, had terrible separation anxiety and was stressed when alone. So dog two, a mini schnauzer, was purchased as a "pet" for dog one - nor a pet for the owners - to keep dog one sane. And it worked. 

One may well ask whether or not the relationship is simply a companionship...but it did make me wonder how our pets view our other pets, and whether pets have they view other animals in the household as true companions, one of their kind, or something entirely other?

Humans tend to care for pets, and its unusual (though not unheard of) for one animal to look after another. Do they see each other as needless competition, second-rate though acceptable company when a human is not available, or something else? I suspect it varies hugely. 

Of course there are some who would argue that the concept of "pet" is fundamentally oppressive. Others would suggest that one day Homo sapiens may be kept as pets (well, at very least it is the topic of at least one reflective indie pop song).

We'd love to hear your thoughts.

Cushing meets Randy for the first time. Within five minutes they share a slice of apple.
Another highlight of the week was meeting a client with one of the most personable guinea pigs I've ever met. She had a few guinea pigs and showed me photos of them dining on fine treats in their fantastic enclosure, by which I was terribly impressed. Good husbandry is so important for the welfare, health and longevity of all animals , particularly the so-called "pocket pets" who are confined and can't chose their surroundings.

But she also told me that she and (let's call him) Mr X went to resteraunts and ordered an undressed salad to share. One might expect that a person who admits to dining out with their guinea pig to be somewhat eccentric. Nope. I loved that this very normal, vivacious young woman felt confident enough to step out with her GP for a salad - and found an establishment happy to serve them both.

Store Beach. One of the most stunning locations on Sydney Harbour and a very good spot for monotasking.
The word of the week this week is "monotasking", an antidote to the all too often used and very much expected "multitasking", a very probably something we shold all be doing more of. (My source was Anne Karpf's book How to Age, which tackles other big issues like gerontophobia).