- Pets and Animals
I Need Time Off Work to Bond with My New Pet
The reality of nearly all jobs is that paid sick leave is for personal or close human relative illnesses. No exceptions. Thus time off for pets (bonding or mourning) will need to come from vacation time, or around scheduled work.
When considering the timing of a new pet, work (or time away from work) should be a major consideration, since that is one of the few times we have control over the events that happen to all of us (human and pet alike).
"My pet fish just died and I need time off to bond with my new one." I have kept a Beta on my desk for several years now, as a source of focus when stress is high. One day just after I had to get a new Beta those words came to mind as I was getting ready to leave for work.
Studies have shown that pets are good for us. They can lower blood pressure, relive stress, and in many cases provide assistance to the handicapped and ill. They are a wonderful tool for teaching young (and not so young) children responsibility. Pets have even been known to save lives. Whether fish, fowl or mammal, when we take a pet into our home, in addition to a new companion, we also take on a new set of responsibilities. Animals in the wild may or may not be happy, depending on their circumstance but once they enter our homes, their happiness becomes our responsibility. We must provide an environment and companionship that makes them happy. If this doesn't also make us happy, then we shouldn't have pets.
A large share of the bonding experience comes simply from providing for the pet's needs and being around the pet. Many pets come to us shortly after they have been weaned from their mothers. By providing for the pet's needs and training them to take care of themselves (as in housebreaking, etc.) we take on the role of parent.
Companionship is another part of bonding that should be considered when choosing a pet. Some pets crave companionship while others can take it or leave it. For those pets who can take or leave the companionship, (for example cats, fish, etc.) it's a good idea to ensure the pet has space where it can be alone. For those pets that crave the attention (for example: puppies etc.), it may be the owner who needs the space. A comfortable place for the pet to stay while the owner takes time away is important.
When pets enter our home they enter a foreign environment. It isn't bad for them, but they must adapt and adjust to the changes. Some of those changes may at first seem cruel or at the least painful. A friend of mine asked "If I have Fido fixed won't he miss out on what it's like to sire pups?" Part of keeping pets is ensuring that they can be comfortable and happy living in our environment. A pet that is in heat will not be happy staying in your environment. Having them spayed or neutered will make staying in your environment a much better experience for them (and an extra litter of pets can take the fun out of having pets real quick).
Discipline is another part of the bonding process. Pets should be handled much like children. Physical force is not usually the answer (unless it involves quickly removing a pet from a dangerous situation). Pets quickly pick up your language, and know what you approve of and don't. Reward good behaviors always! The scoldings for bad behaviors will not be nearly as effective if the good behaviors are not rewarded. Believe it or not, pets do want to make us happy, especially as the bond between pet and owner grows. They are depending on us, remember? We need to show them what makes us happy as well as what doesn't.
Pets have personalities that are as distinct as humans are. The strength of the bond between owner and pet may depend on how well the personalities mesh. I have had Betas that would swim around the tank in sympathy every time you looked at them, and others that wouldn't move if you paid them. Some cats are hunters while others would rather plant themselves in the middle of all your paper work and look at you.
The bond between owner and pet can also be strained by the introduction of another pet into the house, (just like a new baby may be hard on the other children). This can be especially difficult if there is a natural animosity between the pets (dogs and cats, cats and fish etc.) Make sure ample time is spent with both pets, especially the established pet. Otherwise animosity could develop between the two pets, and unlike children pets don't know the difference between scuffling and real life fighting to the death.
Being a pet owner is much like being a parent. We don't get a lot of formal education; consequently we have to guess what to do next. Fortunately pets are like children and are usually very forgiving. The secret is to take time to bond with your pet.