Love Ourself as we Love our Pets?
Jun 23, 2018
It’s a standing joke that nowadays we love our animals more than we love ourselves. We treat them better than we would treat our fellow humans including ourselves. However, we all know that there is a lot of truth to this.
Recently I watched our cat that we rescued called Spikey sleeping on the bed. I couldn’t help but think how jealous I am of her. I am rushing around to get off to work desperately just wanting to nap on the bed like she was doing. But most of all I am envious of the way that pets get to be just pets. They don’t second guess who they are, what they “should” be doing and what they look like.
We love our pets unconditionally and accept them just the way they are. Pets come in all shapes and sizes, activity level, health issues, and personalities. We adore them for their uniqueness and quirkiness. We are compassionate and understanding to their genetic predispositions or their difficult upraising.
Bodies adjust to protect
Most weekends my daughter and I go out to my parent’s farm. You can find all sorts of animals including the barn cats. When spiky was only a few weeks old she was kidnapped by one of the dogs. Spiky was starved for over a week by the dog hiding her underneath the porch (don’t worry he thought he was mothering her). When my daughter found her she begged to rescue her.
There were a few weeks of gentle nourishing as this kitty was as close to starving to death as I have ever seen. It would make sense that spiky has altered eating habits now and naturally sits at a higher weight than most barn cats. Her body was able to protect her during the time of famine and allowed her to survive. She most days just leisurely strolls through the house without a care in the world and only moves to rotate to another nap spot.
Animals come in all shapes and sizes
Now our dog is completely opposite in his personality and body build. Mason also was a rescue dog in which we are not sure what his genetic makeup, however, we suspect Greyhound and lab mix. Greyhounds are known for their high metabolism and very lean bodies as they were bred for hunting and now used on racing tracks.
In the house, spiky has her dish that she comes and goes and grazes all day. Mason our dog has his dish but he won’t eat until we are home. This is not concerning or warrant any disruption to their eating patterns. Spiky spends her days rotating from the couch to beds napping all day but we don’t call her lazy. Spiky doesn’t seem to feel that she has to get up and exercise more to earn her food. She would likely tell us “hey I have done enough surviving my first few weeks of life”.
Mason, on the other hand, bounces off the walls. But when Mason is tired you know just to let him be because he turns into a grouch. I often think of how we understand and give grace to our pets with their changing moods but we don’t allow for one another to do so.
Here is a great video to watch called Poodle science
Eating and Drinking a sign of health
When it comes to our animals we use normal physiological responses as markers of health. As humans though we seem to think that we should ignore them or be in control of them. What are the first two questions your vet asks you if you call about your animal not feeling well? Are they eating? Are they drinking and urinating? Can you imagine if we were asked those questions when we call our healthcare providers? Are you still eating in a consistent pattern and are you still using the restroom as normal? When in simplistic forms these really are two great indicators of health and stress.
You Don’t seem Yourself
When I get home from work I am usually greeted at the door by Mason and Spiky. When they don’t I suspect that something is wrong and I will go find them. How often do we treat our friends or family in that same manner? When pets are injured or scared they usually hide and seclude. With animals we know to leave them alone but keep an eye on them until they feel better. What if we did the same with our loved ones? Allow them to have the space they need during this time but continually letting them know that you’re there for them and that you’re keeping an eye on them.
My challenge for you is to love yourself, love others, treat strangers with compassion just as you would your pet!
AUTHOR • ATHLETE • NUTRITION THERAPIST
ReBecca McConville, MS, RD, CSSD CEDRD
"The life-long athlete in me wants to make sure that all athletes stay at the top of their game for as long as they choose to be in their sport. This book will keep athletes on track before your season starts, in the grind of the season, at the end of your season—and be ready to go for the next one."