Lessons Learnt from Pets such as my Cockatiel
Putting in the Time Reaps Rewards
Keeping pets is a great reinforcer of the lesson that you gain rewards by putting in the time and effort. For example If you look at a flock of chickens, each bird might seem identical, but as you watch them you will start to notice differences in character. One bird might be particularly bold and adventurous wandering away from the flock to explore another might especially like to sunbathe or choose strange places to lay her eggs. I had one chicken who always went to lay her eggs inside the guinea pig pen. Spend even more time with them - perhaps hand feeding them a special treat of meal worms and you might find you have a feathery friend who greets you excitedly and seeks you out. At my workplace we had a flock of 20 chickens and one of our favorites was Henny Penny who would pop into the office to spend time with us and of course the more time we spent with her, the more interesting and individual she became to us.
Each of my pet hamsters has had distinctive personalities and talents which became apparent from time spent observing them and taking them out of the cage for handling and to allow them to explore. Briskey, an especially small Syrian hamster loved climbing stairs, put her at the bottom of a flight - each step of which was taller then her body length - and she would zoom upwards. Her record was 9 seconds for a flight of 20 steps. I would never have known that was possible if I hadn't spent time with her each day.
The other area where putting in time will bring great benefits is training and socialising your pet. It is a learning exercise for both of you as you learn to interpret your pet's behaviour, find out what motivates it and improve your training techniques as the pet learns to retrieve a ball or greet children gently.
Putting in the time is a lesson that transfers to most aspects of life, spend time practising an instrument and you will get better and enjoy playing more music. Spend time with your friends and you will have closer more mutually rewarding friendships.
It doesn't have to be expensive to be immensely pleasureable
You can pay £600 for a hand reared African grey parrot or £60 for a hand reared cockatiel, which is better? Arguably there are pluses to both, but the pleasure to be gained from developing a relationship with the £60 cockatiel is just as great as for the expensive parrot.
If you have a pet, you soon realise that they don't want you to throw money at them, they are happiest to share your time and join in with free activities such as walking the dog, creating a maze out of cardboard boxes and tubes for the hamster or teaching your cockatiel to whistle a tune.
It Doesn't Matter What You Look Like
Pets are utterly accepting of who you are. You can relax in their company knowing that they are not judging you by the clothes you wear or because your nose is large and crooked or you have a disfiguring disease. It is a valuable lesson allowing you to look past first appearances and accept other people as well as having self acceptance..
It Doesn't Matter What You Have Acheived
In the same vein, pets teach me that it doesn't matter whether I think I have succeeded or failed at work, whether I earn £80000 per year or have lost my job. Self acceptance is an ongoing battle, but my pets do their best to show me that they think it's okay that I am me.
Laugh and Play Every Day
As adults it's easy to pass a day without having anything to laugh at and never to play. Pets throw opportunities to laugh at you with their antics and invite you join in with their games so that you can share a bit of their ability to live 'in the moment' without worries or concern for the future.
Other Things my Pets have Taught me
Never turn your back on your food if you're still hungry, because one of the pets is sure to burgle it.
If it smells bad a dog will eat it, if it smells good a cat will eat it.
If it flaps, crackles or clatters a horse will be spooked by it.
You can vacuum all you like, there will still be pet hair in the carpet.
It is possible for a human, a greyhound, a Belgian shepherd dog, a German shepherd dog, a lurcher and a terrier to all sleep together in a 2 man tent.
A cat will voluntarily get into any box, unless it's a pet carrying box.
Terrapins are an unexpected fire hazard - any piece of electric aquarium equipment will be kick boxed until it starts smoking.