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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Say Cheese!

Last weekend I took some pictures of our family in front of the Christmas tree. We do this to add a recent photo when we send out Christmas cards. So my wife and kids started to get into position as I set the camera up and got the timer ready. While we were getting set up, our dog, Guinevere, walked over and sat down next to everyone. It honestly seemed like she knew we were doing a picture as a family, and didn't want to be left out! Now, I realize that I'm anthropomorphizing a bit, but that was the first thought that came into our minds. She even turned towards the camera like she was posing.

One of the things that I love so much about pets is how they become family. I definitely don't subscribe to the idea that "it's just a dog" or something similar. We worry about our dog and cats almost as much as we do about our kids. We make sure they're well cared for and always try to plan around them as much as we do the rest of the family. Now, I don't think that animals have the same inherent "value" as a human, but I do think they are very important. Guinevere is laying on the foot of the bed as a type this, and will sleep there all night (usually crowding my wife and myself).

Many of my clients share the same sentiment, and I love seeing that bond. To many people, their pet is another child, and they do everything for their dog or cat that they would do for a person. These sentiments towards pets aren't limited to their owners. Just today we received a flyer at my clinic for a "Pet Play Place" that offers day-care and boarding. Only, instead of calling it boarding, they use the term "sleepover". They have couches for the dogs to sleep on, provide TV and radios, and even have swimming pools. I'm going to have to go check this place out myself sometime soon. And yes, I thought of our dog as possibly staying there at some point if I like it in person.

Pets add so much to our lives that I think they deserve to be treated special. Many studies have showed that pet ownership helps improve health, reduce stress, and lengthen human lifespans. They provide a special emotional bond and outlet that many people wouldn't have otherwise. They definitely deserve to be treated as more than "just a cat".

Oh, and we couldn't ignore Guinevere's obvious desire to be included in the picture. After all, it was going to be a family photo, and she's part of our family.