They say the world has two kinds of people — those who love pet animals and those who can’t stand them. There’s no middle ground because you can’t really ignore them. They are everywhere — at your own home or that of your friend’s or neighbour’s. And why not? They have as much right to exist as we do, and, in fact, they turn out to be better friends and companions to us than many humans.
But while that is true, there’s no disputing the fact that there are several kinds of stress associated with keeping a pet. And several others, even when you don’t. Let’s look at three of the most bugging pet-fret situations we encounter in our day-to-day lives.
1 When you absolutely adore your pet but someone in your family was born to hate anyone on four legs: This can be really stressful, and worse if that someone happens to be the spouse. One of my friends used to talk about his dream of having two pet dogs at home, with the same passion as someone talking about having babies. He kept up his dream and got the puppies home — three months before getting into an arranged marriage with a certified animal hater. ‘She had told me that she’s not fond of pets when we got engaged and I thought it’s okay if she would keep her distance from them. But I didn’t know she would hate them with a vengeance. Life’s a hell now,’ he says. They fight over the smallest of things, from pet hair on the sofa to early-morning barking. Conversely, it’s equally stressful if you happen to dislike pets and wifey insists on snuggling with them in the bed. ‘I have nothing against animals but there’s no need for me to find that lazybones sleeping in my blanket every evening when I reach home,’ says Jayant whose wife takes lazybones even to kitty parties.
2 When you embark on a guilt trip every time you have to leave a pet alone: From going for days on vacations to going for a few hours to a family dinner, it’s a stress if you can’t help but your pet alone at home. In this age of nuclear families, when leaving kids with grandparents everyday can leave you —and them— hugely stressed, looking for a home to leave pets is quite a challenge. ‘We haven’t been on a vacation for three years because I simply don’t know where to leave my pet dog. Yeah, there are ‘pet-hostels’ but I don’t know if they are trustworthy and affordable,’ says Shriya.
3 When you lock horns with pet-owners who are also manner-criminals: ‘I hate, hate, hate my neighbour and his dog,’ wrote Smita, in her email to me. She adds, ‘I have nothing against the animal as such, but that man should have the sense to not keep him chained, that too right outside my window. The poor animal barks incessantly and drives me crazy.’ ‘Can someone please start a campaign against people who let their dogs shit and pee on other people’s cars and front doors?’ writes Mukta on Facebook. So basically, for no fault of theirs, pets can become quite a source of tension. The calmness trick? It’s simple. In an urgency to keep a pet because you find it ‘cute’ to flaunt one, don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s a big, big responsibility. You have to be fair to your family members and take their feelings into account, you have to be fair to the animal in treating it well and you have to be fair to those in the community around you. Till the time you feel ready for all this, don’t make the decision of bringing a new life home. Try volunteering at an NGO or a pet-centre in your city. Spending time with those animals would be a stress-buster and you’ll also be able to test your patience levels with them. Too many stresses in life anyway, why have a pet-stress too?
Sonal Kalra recommends that ‘love-for-pets-compatibility’ test be made compulsory before marriage. Many innocent lives will be saved. Mail your
calmness tricks at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter at www.twitter.com/sonalkalra