(Zoe missed her deadline this month, so please enjoy this repeat from Halloween 2012)
Halloween is coming up in a few days. Only I call it Howl-ween. And for me, that evening is complete sensory over load.
The door bell rings a gazillion times… and that requires barking. Excited little kids come to the door…and that requires barking. They wear weird clothes and strange make up on their faces, so I don’t recognize any of them… and that requires barking. Then they beg for candy. I can smell it, but no one will let me have any… so that requires barking. I feel like a frenzied, agitated turmoil of emotions.
After awhile, Mom and Dad put me in the upstairs closet and close the door. “It’s for your own good,” they say. And I think, “Wait! Is this punishment for me or protection for the trick-or-treaters?!” I can’t think of any holiday I like less than Howl-ween. Except maybe 4th of July fireworks and that assault of the ears.
Believe it or not, research shows that lots of pets accidently get lost on Halloween night. Sometimes they bolt out the door with all the excitement. Or they get frightened while they are outdoors and get away from their owners, and the ghosts, goblins and zombies. So keeping your pet safe in the closet
really is the kind thing to do… but that doesn’t mean we like it! Just be sure to provide extra special pet treats, toys and water and we’ll forgive you… eventually.
Have you ever noticed how many people put Howl-ween costumes on their pets? No thank you! Not for me! I don’t like to wear clothes. It’s not that I’m a nudist or anything! Jay Leno doesn’t think pets should wear costumes either. We love you unconditionally and then you torture us with stiff, itchy RIDICULOUS outfits and parade us around the neighborhood like we’re status symbols or something. How many wiener dogs in hot dog costumes does the world really need? Same goes for Chihuahua tacos and black cats in witch hats.
You think you’re so clever, but you’re not that original. Someday the pets are going to take over and make you wear embarrassing attire. We’ll post your photo on the internet and click share a thousand times. Then we’ll all laugh at your misery and misfortune and we’ll call it even!
And what’s up with carving pumpkins? I know how to mutilate things and call it artful decoration, too. But you don’t like it when I put holes in your shoes.
So, let’s skip the costumes, the door bell and the pumpkin carving. Leave the porch light off and we can just sit in the dark. I’ll tell you I love you unconditionally and you can feed me treats while I do tricks. Then, instead of Yappy Howl-ween, we’ll have a quiet All Hallows Eve. You can eat all the Snickers bars by yourself, I won’t have to bark my head off, and we’ll all be happier!
I’ve been a little naughty lately, but it’s really not my fault. I’m bored. Do you hear me well enough?! I said I’m BORED! Nobody pays attention to me. So I sit at home and plot ways to get someone to notice me.
Chewing on things I find lying around the house. Check!
Running around like a hyperactive maniac (what my mom calls the Tazmanian Devil dog.) Check!
Barking at every chipmunk, squirrel, dog or kid in the neighborhood. Check!
Leaving kibble in my bowl, so someone will think I’m not feeling well. Check!
About the only thing I haven’t done is raid the garbage can and that’s because they have one of those dog-proof contraptions.
You see, my mom has been a little under the weather with foot surgery and oral surgery. She complains about pain and can’t seem to get her tush off the couch when she’s at home. My dad is working at his regular job and then coaching football, so he’s never home. My brother is working and also walking
other neighborhood dogs for extra income… so no one ever pays attention to me. Oh sure, they make sure I have food, water, potty breaks, etc. but they don’t really PLAY or WALK or TAKE ME ANYWHERE!
My mom has a so-called “sedentary lifestyle.” It’s just a fancy way of saying she doesn’t move enough. She gets home from work and sits on the couch with her foot up. Let me tell you something. It’s not good for humans and it’s not good for pets, either.
Just a quick Google check will tell you that for humans, sitting too much can cause anxiety, heart disease, obesity and other nasty ailments that can lead to early death. (Don’t seem so surprised. If I can write a blog, certainly I can use a computer!) But did you know being left alone too much or not getting enough exercise can cause problems for dogs and cats, too?
We might do things you don’t like out of pure boredom. Our muscles can get weak and we might lose our ability to run or jump. We can put on extra weight which slows us down even further. And health issues? I’d rather not talk about digestive problems, constipation, high blood pressure or diabetes.
I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t already know. But I do want to ask you what are you going to do about it? Seriously, I get that sometimes pet parents are temporarily too busy or physically unable to take their pet for a walk (like my mom.) Mom, you really should heel… I mean heal!
In the meantime, perhaps she should hire a dog walker or try playing an indoor game of fetch from the couch or even blowing bubbles and letting me try to catch them. That’s a game that many cats enjoy, too. And if she can’t exercise my whole body, exercises for my brain (and tummy) are good diversions, too. Think food puzzle toys, peanut butter stuffed Kongs or even teaching me new tricks!
I’m really not trying to scold Mom or any other pet parents for being sedentary, sluggish, slothful or just plain sitting too much. I’m just trying to gently encourage all of you to move a little more. Interact with your pet a little more. And think of clever things you can do together. That way we all can be happier and healthier. And maybe even thinner!
Until Next time,
PS: Mom, the whole “I just had foot surgery” excuse isn’t going to work at all next month, so I’m encouraging you to get your act together. I’ll try to be satisfied with walks that go only 2 blocks, but you’ve got to work on your flexibility and stamina. Deal?
When People Get Too Busy!
At my house, the people are entirely too busy. They are always going to work or running errands or trying to find their keys (mom, you really have to get your act together!)
It’s kind of like that famous Yoda saying: Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.
Only it goes like this: Busy-ness leads to stress. Stress leads to forgetfulness. Forgetfulness leads to disaster.
The really great thing about having a pet is that we won’t let you forget. If you forget to feed me, I’ll remind you in not-so-subtle ways. Like sitting on your head or barking insistently. If you forget to take me for a walk, I’ll give you the sad puppy dog eyes until I get my way. If you forget to take me to the veterinarian, I might just ignore that transgression, but the vet will send a reminder card.
And then there’s that whole stress thing. The pet in your life will get you moving, establish a schedule and make your heart happy! Did you know that people who have pets get more exercise, weigh less and are more social than their pet-less counterparts? Did you know petting a furry friend lowers heart rate and blood pressure, while elevating mood? In other words, pets are a natural, drug-free stress reliever.
But let’s talk about disaster… not the swept-away-in-a-flood, house-burned-down, someone-was-killed-in-a-car-accident kind of disaster. When it comes right down to it, there are real disasters and then there are “bumps in the road” kinds of occurrences. Yes, you might have messed up that project at work or forgotten someone’s birthday or hurt someone’s feelings. Maybe you even stepped on someone’s tail and actually physically hurt the furry one in your household.
But the really great thing about having a pet is that we won’t grumble or complain. All is forgiven and forgotten. “Unconditional love” is what we call it.
If you know someone who is super busy, please remind them to slow down and enjoy the pleasures of life: a beautiful day, a loved one by your side (or at the other end of the phone), the enjoyment of a good meal or a pleasant walk. Those are the things that make me happy! You might be able to postpone that meeting, errand or appointment. But you may not always have the opportunity to spend time with the stress-relieving, forgetfulness-abating, unconditional-loving pets in your life!
So go out there and get “un-busy!” Stop and smell the roses.
Except those thorns hurt my delicate nose, so I actually prefer the scent of canine urine on the fire hydrant!
Until next time, Zoe
PS: When my pet parents are away on vacation, they actually call me and talk to me on the phone. It’s the weirdest thing. I can hear them, but I can’t see them or smell them. I know they are talking to me, but I can’t find them. It’s kind of like a Jedi mind trick. “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”