In place of Pet Chat Radio, Web-DVM decided to go in another direction with an Internet television show, called “The Web-DVM,” which like Pet Chat Radio is hosted by me. The format remains the same with some news, anecdotes, and commentary, only the new visual media provides visual aides to augment the content (and viewers will now have to actually look at me as I deliver the show), and each episode will be a bit more brief, kept under 11 minutes.
In our first broadcast earlier today, I discussed two separate stories, one pertaining to dogs and one to cats, where researchers made stunning observations of remarkable abilities that reflect a much higher intellect within these two species than previously suspected. If you have not yet had the chance to see the show, I would suggest you do so, as these stories are both fascinating, as well as the basis for my personal comment this week, which is that we should not make the tragic mistake of thinking that our pets are as primitive mentally as have and continue to assume. If they are intelligent and intuitive enough to perform the tasks that these reports describe, then it naturally follows that they also experience a complex range of emotions and awareness that accompanies this kind of higher intelligence. This includes elation at an owner’s return after being absent, contentment enjoying a pet, cuddle, or favorite treat, grieving from loss of a family member whether human or furry, stress from the loneliness of isolation, and fear of unfamiliar places or circumstances.
When taking on the responsibility of a pet, we need to understand that we take on responsibility for an intelligent, emotionally complex individual for years to come, with their only source of shelter, food, companionshipnad exercise primarily being us, the ones that chose to take the animals home, not the other way around.
It is not necessarily only people who are inherently dismissive of animals who adopt them on a whim and easily discard them when they deem them too expensive for inconvenient, who can these sensitive creatures harm by underestimating their intelligence and emotional awareness. Some well intentioned individuals that adopt a pet for the right reasons, do love animals, and consider them a responsibility, too foten end up having life circumstances, such as long hours at work, a difficult relationship or tough break up, or the addition of children, allow them to rationalize not taking the time to walk the dog, brush the kitty, or spend any real quality time with the animals. They use their changed life circumstances to rationalize that it is enough to provide food shelter, and water for their pets, losing sight of the fact that these are the basic necessities to be sure, but only one small part of pet welfare.
I am not suggesting that anyone neglect their children or careers so that the pet needs not sacrifice any Mommy or Daddy time, but I am suggesting that a pet owner should remain ever cognoscente of the fact that our pets are emotionally complex, intelligent creatures that yearn for stimulation, affection, companionship, and exercise, and as such, to make your best effort to give them whatever time you can spare to engage in these pursuits.
If they are smart enough to count to 5, learn hundreds of spoken words, and can learn to manipulate people and other animals to do their bidding, they can certainly feel, understand, and suffer from emotional neglect.
So fit in a pet or cuddle whenever you can, take a short walk, offer a yummy treat, or engage in a quick game of fetch. You don’t have to sacrifice other important life pursuits to just make it a priority to regularly take a little time to give them the attention they live for. For in their eyes, you are all that matters, the sun rises and sets with you, and they are utterly grateful for any little bit of light you shine their way.