Pet Parenting – The word is fairly simple to understand and appears to be understood by one and all as soon as you mention it. The fact of the matter, on the contrary, is 90% don’t know what actually Pet parenting is. Some get a Pet home in a small basket and some get him carried in arms. The point to note here is before getting the idea of becoming a Pet Parent, one has to extensively research the good and bad about every breed (no single breed is immortal) The decision on whether you are personally capable of handling a newborn? It is the same as having a new baby at home. Many couples who have not had a baby for a few years often tend to become ‘pet parents’.

UTPAL KHOT, founder of an NGO, ‘Being the Real Human Foundation

The pet puppy gets all the attention and love of the word for a couple of years. As soon as the couple has their own two-legged baby, the Pet becomes a ‘threat’ suddenly to their newborn and they are looking at giving the Pet off for adoption. Suddenly the 4 legged “baby becomes a monster”

Please understand that you are responsible for the separation of the baby from its mother while it was still attached to her and was feeding on her milk. You have absolutely no right to do this unless you are sure that you will give the same love and care and attention you would give to your own child. You can’t get home a Pet because you are bored in life and as soon as you have your own baby, you disown the pet. You can’t get irritated with your pet if you have got married and if he/she still wants to snuggle up with you in bed! For you, it may be a time pass which you got when you were single or without a child. For the puppy, you are a parent.

Many ‘Pet Parents’ who have impulsively got a pup to realize in a week or two that it is not their cup of tea. Suddenly they feel they can’t handle puppy pee ad puppy poop. Why? Had you expected the Living Toy you got home to be pee-free /Shit-free? They suddenly realize that they can’t tolerate the pup anymore how much ever it tries to cuddle up with you and come close to you. Would you do the same to your child? Human tendency. Imagine just for a few moments what kind of mental trauma you have subjected the pup to. It has been separated from a female who could be its mother because she has been feeding him/her as soon as it opened its eyes.

Then he was given to a 2 legged female who does not breastfeed it but loves and pampers it for a few days and the pup presumes this is the new mom. Now suddenly the new mom does not want it and new faces come home every day, pick it up, manhandle it and go away. Eventually a new set of parents for it, and if it is the child of the lesser God, then many more parents. The baby does now know to whom it belongs to. He/she does not have any choice here and the prospective ‘Pet Parents’ decide if they will keep this baby or not. By then the baby who has grown up becomes moody, rebellious, and starts hating the 2 legged creatures. We then promptly decided to call it a Mad Dog/Cat/Bird and in many cases request the vet to put him/her to sleep. Wow! Are we ‘Pet Parents’?

What actually is Pet Parenting?

A single male/female/Couple/Nuclear Family/Joint Family who decide to get home a Pet should be aware of the following:

  1. You need a Pet, the Pet does not need you as he/she is with his mom. For people like you, he/she has been separated from the mom to be given to you. So remember that he has never come to you begging to take it in. You have gone and taken it. Respect it.
  2. No Breeder/Pet shop owner can guarantee the characteristics /age and temperament of the baby you are buying from them. Just like the Doctor who has helped a female deliver a baby can’t tell what may happen to the child 2 days/2 years/20 years down the line. Every Pet comes with its own strengths and flaws. Accept it.
  3. Whatever age you decide to become a Pet Parent, it is like having a new baby (maybe with 2 legs and feathers or 4 legs and a Tail) You need to be dedicated to it and give it the attention a baby needs all the time as an infant.
  4. Maintain a file for your pet and keep a record of the vaccines. Groom your pet like your own child. Nails, hair, shampoo, bath everything. They will give you this happiness as long as they live.
  5. You can never lock a baby and go out. So your freedom of movement outside the house is restricted. We are a human family of 3 and with an extended family of many pets now. We have never travelled together outside the house in the last 8 years. No holidays, no foreign trips, no outings. Are you ready to do this willingly as a Pet parent?
  6. Remember, your pet may have a heart condition and can’t travel with you always in your car/boat/chartered plane. So don’t risk taking it everywhere for the sake of showing your love. Learn to compromise. Trust me, it will make you happier.
  7. God forbid, if your pet is sick, learn to stay up the whole night and many nights if the illness is terminal. You will live for 70 years plus…your pet has a life of average 10-12 years. Every night counts, every minute counts.
  8. Don’t try to be a Vet when it comes to your Pet. Consult a good Vet and make him a Family vet as he /she only would know what best makes your Pet get back in action. Study his medical history and research more about his weakness so you know what should be handy always.
  9. Don’t force a trainer on him. Will you do that with your own child?
    The Pet will learn things on its own when he/she sees its parent taking the trouble to clean up the mess. My 4 legged daughter will hold her pee up to 24 hours if we don’t take her down but won’t pee inside the drawing-room. We never had a trainer.
  10. Don’t force the feed on your Pet. They are hungry for your love. Feed them appropriately and keep their weight in check. You are only increasing their life by a year by keeping them healthy and fit.
  11.  Your Pet is an animal and needs exercise. Take them for regular walks/play when you can in a day/two days. Keep them active, they will smile and bless you.
  12. If you can’t allow your pet on your bed, don’t become a Pet Parent. A pet is your own child. He/she will have full access to everything in the house. Eventually, you need to realize and accept that you are living in your pet’s house and not vice versa.
  13. Avoid locking up your pet/s when guests/relatives come home. Remember it is their house. If the Guest/relative is not comfortable with animals, politely tell them that next time you would come to their house for the cup of Tea/Meal. They will understand and stop bothering you. You will see the sparkle in the eyes of your pet when you value it over your non-pet loving relatives/families.
  14. Remember a house is not a home without happy paw prints. Pamper your Pet as a parent, give him/her all the love you can and they will love you back selflessly. Your human children may leave you/abandon you once they grow up. Your Pet will never abandon you.
  15. Last but not the least, your pet won’t live as long as you. So make his/her exit a happy one. Live with fond memories of theirs. You should never feel guilty that you could not do something which you would do for your own child. A smile should come along with tears when you think about your pet who has crossed the rainbow bridge.

Finally a piece of advice to all those who want to be Pet parents. Adopt, Don’t Shop. Give them a Home. Dogs, Cats, Fishes, and birds – all can be adopted. Some were abandoned, some were rescued and some were given away as owners could not handle them. Take out time and feed Stray animals whom I can’t get home due to space constraints. Let’s all come forward and give them a good life they deserve. Earn their blessings by being a Good Pet Parent.

This article is with inputs Utpal Khot who is a leading food & lifestyle blogger and the founder of an NGO, ‘Being the Real Human Foundation