Sharing your Life with a Four-legged Friend is not as it Seems
Things you may only understand if you’re a pet owner
Column by Alice Clark RVN
Pet ownership is a unique experience, that you can only understand when you are, well… a pet owner. We’ve all had the conversation where your pet-owning-virgin friend disdainfully states an animal would never be allowed to sleep in their bed or on their sofa and to those people, I challenge you, my good sir. Your willpower will slowly fizzle out when a furry little four-legged creature gets their paws firmly in the door and quickly learns just how to pull on your heartstrings.
There are a number of things that, as a pet owner, I secretly love to hate. Things that I can’t be alone in complaining about, however deep down if I didn’t have these things to complain about, I know my life would be a lot less colourful.
- Any time you go anywhere, you will have a delightful little poop bag stowed away on your person, even though your dog is not with you. I used to arrive at school on Mufti Days and decant said stock of bags into my locker before anyone else saw them. My Mother has also kindly informed me on a number of occasions that I look deformed due to the protrusion of my trouser pockets, in which around 20 bags are stuffed. The one time you clear out your pockets, you will forget to replace said bags and this will be the day your dog proudly squats to relieve themselves in a busy high street. And you can guarantee that your cat will wait until you have company before they decide to use their litter tray.
- Any second spent with your cat could literally be your last. Stroke your cat in the wrong place, you’re dead. Stroke your cat in the wrong direction, you’re dead. Stroke your cat for longer than a few seconds, you’re dead. Don’t feed your cat on time, you’re dead. Try feeding your cat the wrong food, you’re dead. Look at your cat, you’re dead. Try moving your cat off of your bed, you’re definitely dead. Nope? Maybe this one is just me. I love you too, Oreo.
- You will compare your pet with your friends’ children. You just don’t want to miss out on the conversation. Oh, your toddler has started potty training? The other day, my dog pooped without eating it immediately afterwards. Sorry to hear your little one is ill, my cat’s been bringing up some mega hairballs this week.
- You will spend all of your money on your pet. Whether you meant to or not, you will spend most of your precious earnings on your furry friend. Veterinary bills and insurance payments are expensive and necessary, however we all know the five beds, 15 collars and dozens of toys are not. Jack, if you are reading this that hot pink rolled real leather collar I just bought for Etty was most definitely a necessity.
- Personal space no longer exists. Forget stretching out on the sofa or resembling a starfish in bed, you will find yourself carefully placing yourself around your pet or, even better, playing Tetris with multiple pets. Then, when they finally settle themselves on top of you and look so angelically sweet, try to bring yourself to move them so you can go to the toilet or reach your phone. Nope, not happening. Why do we even tolerate the cat kneading us with claws?
- They make you talk to strangers. Although the stranger will probably ignore you and address your pet. Then you have to decide whether to awkwardly continue the one-way conversation by way of speaking for your pet or you could just use my tactic, which is to smile whilst quickly dragging the dog away. This approach also works very well if you add in an apology after your dog has barked at/jumped up at/stolen a picnic from/knocked over the child of, said stranger.
- Lint rollers are your new best friends. Until pet hair comes into fashion I would recommend you keep one by the front door… and in the car. My mother has also taken to rolling the dogs post grooming; it won’t be long until I find her using the Dyson on them. I’m lucky enough to not know whose hair I’m wearing most days.
- You can never leave food unattended again. You think you can nip to the loo whilst that fillet steak rests on the kitchen counter? Think again. It is also essential to watch out for the telltale stray cat hair on the edge of your water glass, because a mere water bowl will not do for a regal creature such as your feline.
- You will have to leave social events early to feed them. However, it is absolutely the best excuse to leave a dying party. When you get home the dogs will give you the greatest welcome home, thankful that you have not abandoned them whilst the cat decides whether to fire you or not.
- Despite all of this, you would rather spend time with your pets than any human. Because everything above will soon become second nature to you and, despite all of the hard work, being a pet owner is incredibly rewarding. Plus having a cuddly companion to come home to will encourage de-stressing, lowering of your blood pressure, exercising and the release of ‘happy’ hormones.