I do everything with my pets. My two cats and two dogs are like family to me. While some people may see their pets as “animals” or as living creatures under their control, I see my furry family as equals. Their health and well-being are just as important as mine. I know that not everyone may share my point of view, but I’m certain that, based on conversations with other pet-lovers, the majority feel as though their pets aren’t really pets; they’re family.
Here are 8 ways you know when your pets have gone from “animals” to family:
1. You share your food with them.
Not “giving” them your food, but “sharing” it. Even if your pet is a picky eater like a dog of mine (who only likes human food that has a strong taste or is nothing but carbs), there are fun, healthy ways you can share food together.
2. You get intimate with them.
Mouth-to-mouth kisses, cuddling, lying on the ground with them, hugging them tightly so they can’t escape (in a good way, of course), are all part of becoming family. And if you’re like me, you may have reenacted the Lady and the Tramp spaghetti scene with other foods. Gross? or cute? You decide.
3. You follow the same daily routine.
Almost every day when I’m home, one of my dogs barks and whines outside my bedroom door around 9-9:30 AM even when other people are home. The dog that sleeps in my room gets up and stretches on my bed, walks up to my stretching-self, and I proceed to go to the bathroom, take both dogs to the bathroom, feed them, make myself breakfast, etc. My dog Greta that sleeps on my bed with me knows my nighttime routine better than anyone I know. She sits in the bathroom while I clean up and we even have a special routine for getting into bed. My dogs and I, and my cats, all follow the same routine and do things like eating, sleeping, and cleaning up at the same time every day. You know they’ve become family then.
4. You have nicknames for them.
Each of my four-legged family members has a plethora of nicknames that are unique to them, and the number continues to grow as we spend more time together. For example, take my 11-year-old lab Casey. Her nicknames include, but are not limited to: Casey Crazy, Girl-Girl, Girl-Girl Casey Crazy, Good-Girl Casey, Good-Girl Casey Crazy, Tortilla Chip Dog, Case, Casey Craze, Casey Crazy Brown, Ya Nut, Goofball. I’d tell you the nicknames for all four furry members of my family, but we’d be here all day. You get the picture.
5. You speak the same language.
You most likely have code words between the two of you for different activities, people, or foods. Going to the bathroom, going on a walk or a car ride, having dinner or taking a nap together. Language can be unspoken just as much as it can be words said out loud, and I’m sure you have movements or words, like I do, to tell your dogs what time it is. (Adventure time!)
6. You apologize for their behavior.\
Just like when a human family member does something embarrassing or outside of social norms, you may find yourself apologizing to the people around you for your fur family’s behavior. “Sorry!” when your dog won’t stop barking at your neighbor. “Sorry!” when you cat scratches up your mother’s couch. “Sorry!” when your dog leaves excessive amounts of hair or drool on any surface possible.
7. You even defend them and make excuses for them.
When one of the cats in my house was young, although we had him neutered, he liked to pee on our basement floor and would poop along the wall consistently for what seemed like no reason at all. My parents were livid. Because I was at school two hours away, I wasn’t there to clean up after him (since he technically is my cat). I felt the need to defend him, telling my parents that he’s young, he’s in his teenage years, and he’s trying to tell them that he’s not happy about something in his environment. It wasn’t a good enough excuse for my parents to dismiss the behavior immediately, but eventually, they came around and understood that he was just trying to get his message across in the only way he possibly could.
8. You realize you love them more than you like other people.
Your family members with paws will never betray you like a human can. They will love you no matter what. They’ll forgive you for accidentally stepping on their feet or for forgetting to fill their water dish. They’ll always be there for you when you need a hug or a listening ear or a body to cry on. While that can be said of a select number of humans, every pet that I’ve ever seen has a devotion to the ones they love for eternity. People are great, but your furry family fills a void humans can’t quite reach.
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