From the onset of pet ownership, it’s natural for pet parents to proactively train a new pet and set boundaries where possible for its health and safety as well as other family members (including existing pets).
Before one actually acquires his/her first pet, to an extent beforehand, he/she can anticipate the responsibilities and the love to form in the relationship. Yet there are aspects and benefits that are not fully or only partially realized, but later appreciated in the bond formed between the human and the animal.
Domesticated pets are inherently good creatures, which unfortunately cannot be said for all humans. Similarly, they are totally transparent unlike some humans (except when we accidentally leave food or other undesired chewable items within their reach). At the same time, its been often said that “dogs are children that never grow up.” But its the actual needed parenting skills we provide our pets that can be a great source for a human’s self improvement as well as for the animal’s. (Children taught to train their new dogs learn immensely from the experience as well!)
Our desire to communicate with our animals in order to provide their comfort, pleasure and avoid their pain helps us see outside ourselves on an emotional level. (For self-absorbed individuals who seek self-improvement, this is one unrealized huge benefit.) So much so, eventually the source for our pet’s joy and happiness becomes our joy and happiness and conversely, their pain and sorrow becomes our pain and sorrow.
Even early on, through our basic provision of feeding and sheltering them, pets become dependent and thus develop a trust and unshakable loyalty toward their parents. (Humans should envy such devotion toward other humans.) Outside of fulfillment of their basic needs and the time we spend with them, pets provide us their lifetime of love, companionship and protection. Thus, we realize our self -actualization when we question our worthiness to our animals: who is the nobler creature, the dog/cat or the human?
On a physical level, pets naturally need daily exercise. For example, by walking, running and playing outdoors with dogs regularly, we help to achieve the levels of exercise we need as well. Without our pet companion, would we otherwise have the same discipline for regular exercise?
And not to be overlooked, other obvious, important responsibilities of pet care are hygienic, grooming and veterinary care. Costs for this care is increasing but loving owners will find a way to budget for them in order for their pets to remain healthy. Even financially challenged, devoted pet parents will always seek these services by: including self-serve bathing/grooming and seeking out financial assistance for veterinary care. For those who are not as financially literate, this too is a learning experience!
Even the end of a pet’s life (which is always too short) is a learning opportunity for the appreciation of the pet’s entire life as well as our own life. Unfortunately, we learn that there are consequences for every action or lack of action we take. But, for our pet’s sake,we can find solace once we make the right decision after carefully exploring all options near the end. While this is the most difficult part of our relationship with our pet, our fond memories and personal growth will stay with us for the rest of our lives.