The week of May 4-10, we will be celebrating National Pet Week. This event, founded in 1981 by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and the AVMA Auxiliary, promotes responsible pet ownership, celebrates the human-animal bond and promotes public awareness of veterinary medicine. The fact that you are on our website and are reading this newsletter means that you are helping us meet all three of these goals. However, I wanted to spend a little time discussing the human-animal bond.
Our pets are obviously completely dependent on us for the basic necessities of life- food, water and shelter. But we know that the bond goes far beyond that. They are able to give back a hundred-fold in return for that care and ask for nothing more. But, when we give them our love, attention, and a job to do, we strengthen that bond even more.
The jobs some pets have are work in the true sense of the word. Seeing Eye dogs that help lead the blind and Assistance dogs that help paraplegics and quadriplegics certainly have a very special bond with their owners. And it isn’t just dogs- monkeys and miniature horses have also been used for assistance work. Dogs have also been trained to alert owners who are epileptic when they are about to have a seizure. Policeman in K9 and Mounted units also have a strong relationship with their dogs, who are considered partners. Search and Rescue dogs work closely with their handlers in missing persons cases and are able to track people far better than even some of our most advanced technology.
For other pets, their job is more for recreation. Hunting, agility, coursing, drafting, and obedience are just a few of the other jobs we give our pets. Many of our clients have champion show dogs and compete nationally, including in the prestigious Westminster Dog Show. Another job we may not think of much here in New Jersey, especially in the spring, is dogsled racing. Kim Darst, from right here in Blairstown, works her Alaskan huskies on the Paulinskill Trail and is the first New Jerseyan to be eligible to compete in the rigorous Iditarod race in Alaska.
Of course, most of you reading this are thinking that your pet doesn’t really have any job at all. Well, I can tell you that my dog Molly’s jobs include chasing my horse, cleaning off the kids’ plates after breakfast (even if that means climbing up on the kitchen table), meeting the school bus, barking at cars, and keeping my feet warm in bed at night. Our pets’ jobs include all those things, plus being our companions, listening to us even when we don’t make sense, comforting us when we are sad or sick, and rejoicing with us when we are happy. They are our pillows, jogging partners, confidants, and friends and I know I can’t imagine my house without them.
All of us here at the hospital understand the human-animal bond because we feel it ourselves. All of the years of veterinary school we studied, the continuing education we attend, the equipment we buy and the hours we put in are to give your pet the best quality of life possible so that you can have a long and happy relationship together. So whenever you have questions or concerns about your pet, please remember we understand because we love our pets, too, and we want to help you keep a strong and life-long bond.