I was kissing Junior yesterday, when a thought just popped into my head – does he understand what a kiss means? Does he know that I love him? While I was engrossed in my thoughts, Junior put his soft paws on my lap asking for another kiss. I perceived; he does understand that a kiss is the gesture to show my love to him.
Over the time, dogs tend to love human kisses and are quick to respond positively to them. Yes, your dogs know how much you love them. While we express our love to them in the form of Hugs, Kisses or saying I Love You. They show their love by giving long eye contact, wagging their tail, or bringing their favourite toy to you.
It’s not only humans who like to hear these 3 beautiful words “I Love You”, but even dogs like hearing it. Each time I leave the house, I tell Junior I Love You. I see him playing, I tell him again. I come out of the washroom and see him outside the door, I tell him. I have lost count of how many times I tell Junior I Love him in a day.
Your dog’s eyes do much of their talking. You can communicate back to them using the same language of eye contact. When a dog gives you long, lingering eye contact, it’s a way of saying “I love you.” A recent study shows that oxytocin, the ‘love chemical,’ goes up in both dogs and humans when they share a kind gaze.
Junior loves sleeping next to me. He will never sleep alone. If it’s his bedtime and I am still sitting on the couch, he will hop on the couch and sleep on my lap. That’s his way of reciprocating his love. I have tried giving him his own bed in the past, but he refuses to sleep on it. In the day time, he will relax a bit on his bed, but when he actually wants to sleep, he wants me by his side. Isn’t this a wonderful feeling!
Technically, Junior is my tail and I am his shadow. Most of the times, I don’t even have to tell him I Love You to express my love. He just knows.
Learning to say, “I Love You” to your dog is a simple matter of getting to know both your dog’s individual body language as well as those comforts of pack life that your dog’s animal brain still craves. As a bonus, all or any type of love languages benefits your sense of well-being, too.
The bond between owner and pet is like no other—they’re our companions, always along for the ride no matter what ups and downs life brings. They show us joy and make us laugh, and even listen to us like they know exactly what we’re saying.
“Nobody can fully understand the meaning of love unless he’s owned a dog. A dog can show you more honest affection with a flick of his tail than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes.” – Gene Hill, author of A Hunter’s Fireside Book and Hill Country
It is said “The greatest Sacrifice is when you sacrifice your own happiness for the sake of someone else” – but does that someone else have to be a human? And is living a life for someone else’s happiness necessarily be termed as a “Sacrifice”?
I am always talking about how much of a difference dogs make into our lives and how dogs have changed our lives for the better. But today, I want to talk about giving credit to us “dog parents or pet parents” about everything that we have done for our dogs. We are often neglected in appreciation and today I want to appreciate every dog parent for all their efforts, hard work, and, sacrifices they have made to give their dogs a better life.
Being a dog mom myself, I know it has never been easy. But our dedication makes it look so effortless, that often people forget the time and energy we have put into raising our dogs to be healthy and loving. Bringing a dog home means a responsibility for another 15 years. Few realize this responsibility and it is imperative to commend all of those who didn’t bring dogs as a Christmas gift and next Christmas the same dog is in the shelter. Or returned the dog for lame reasons like relocating or having a baby or allergy or getting married.
I had read about an article where a woman suddenly suffered from allergies. Upon examination, the doctor informed her that it was because of her dog and to get cured, she had to get rid of the dog. The lady turned around and told her husband, “it’s time to get rid of the doctor and find a new one. The dog is not going anywhere.” Similarly, I used to follow an Instagram account of an Asian woman and her dog. The dog suddenly fell ill and passed away young. She had got an autopsy done and the results shocked her. She discovered that the dog was misdiagnosed and was treated for an illness he never had. She was restless for days. In a tragic turn, she committed suicide. She left a suicide note saying she failed her dog’s trust and she was responsible for his death, so she is going to him. Tragic! I had cried for days after her husband had posted all this on her Instagram account.
There are so many other compromises and sacrifices we do for our dogs, though we do it out of love and soon it becomes our lifestyle. Things as little as not eating chocolates in front of our dogs just because it is harmful for them and they would be tempted to eat. After having a late night out, we still wake up early in the morning to walk our dogs. We cancel plans just because they collide with our dog’s meal or walk time. We don’t go out of town often for a holiday because it is not convenient to take our dogs along all the time. We have stopped calling some people home because they do not like dogs or are scared of dogs, even though they were our best friends or close relatives.
Me personally, when my time was bad, and, I had little to no money, I used to skip my meals to save money to feed Casper and Junior. Even though I had liked a guy so much, I never dated him because my dogs were not welcome. Even today, I am happy to be single but refuse to marry someone who will not accept my dog.
Whether we are sick or absolutely fine, whether we have a day off or working, whatever the circumstance may be, we dog parents never have a break. Because there is no holiday from being a parent. We stay up all night if our dogs are unwell. We have more pictures of our dogs than our selfies. We celebrate their birthdays like a human child. We buy them new toys. We feed them the best dog food. We work extra hours to earn that extra money to give the best lives for our dogs. The list is endless. And you know what, it’s all worth it.
Someone had told me that a dog should live as per our schedule and life, but I live my life as per my dog’s schedule. While that comment agitated me to another level; I soon calmed down as I realized they don’t see life from our perspective. To them he is just a dog; to us he is our child. Not everyone gets the privilege to be a dog parent and they consider them as just another animal. When I was mourning Casper’s death and landed into depression, someone had even told me that he was just a dog. I wish people would be sensitive and understand the years we have put in for our dog’s wellness; and that they are not just dogs, but our babies.
So today, thank you all and a lot of appreciation and respect to all the dog and pet parents who go through silent struggles that no one sees. Cheers to everyone that kept going and made ends meet even in this dreadful COVID19 times for their dogs. I can’t thank you enough for just not treating your pets with love but also the stray dogs with respect and helping them. Greatly appreciate all of you who wouldn’t mind losing everything but the dog. Our dogs give us unconditional love and loyalty and thank you to all you guys for keeping their trust intact.
Experts says the key to age gracefully includes accepting change, and, finding meaningful activities. Aging gracefully isn’t just about trying to look younger, but it’s about living your best life, and, having the physical and mental health to enjoy it. And to achieve this, one has to live a stress-free life; which is near impossible. However, here I am not talking about only humans. I am talking about dogs too and the co-relation between your dog and you to help you and your dog age gracefully.
Junior is 8.5 years old and is already considered as a senior dog. But one time when I had taken him to the vet, a well-known celebrity told me that my dog still looks and behaves like a juvenile. I was elated! More often, seeing Junior, people do not believe me when I tell them that he is a senior dog. The same way, I am still considered as a college going student, and not someone who is in her late 30s. So how is this co-related and how do we achieve this?
First of all, old age is not a disease and always embrace your dog’s age. Please understand, it’s a life process, infact golden years of dogs and old dogs are as much beautiful as younger ones or puppies.
The first and most important ingredient for a younger looking and feeling human and dog is to remain physically active. Never stay solitary, always move, and start young! Always maintain an ideal weight to avoid illnesses and joint problems as you and your dog turns old. Now, if you are above 35 years of age or your dog is above 7 years old, exercise in such a way that there is not much pressure on your joints and heart.
For senior dogs, please limit the time of activity and understand that it is natural for them to sleep more. My vet had told me to reduce Junior’s activity to avoid any accident such as falling or slipping, as fractures in an old age is panful and difficult to cure. This holds true for both – humans and dogs.
Physical activity not only improves your health physically, but has a long term positive effect on the mental health too. As I had mentioned in my previous blog posts, hitting the gym helped me way too much in getting over a breakup and stress. The same way, Junior becomes absolutely fresh when he goes out for his walk. Since he is turning old, I have reduced his walk time from 45 minutes to 30 minutes once a day and I play various games with him at home two times, each game for 10 minutes, once in the morning before I go for work and once in the evening when he wakes up from his afternoon nap. Please note, never play with your dogs immediately after feeding them. Same way, never go to the gym or exercise on a full stomach.
Also, when you are physically active, it reduces stress, keeps you mobile and brings a natural glow on your face. Similarly, when dogs have been physically active, they have less disorders, their brains are active and their fur/coat shines.
Now physical activity doesn’t always mean you have to lift weights or run a marathon. It can mean as simple as just going for a walk or doing yoga for 45 minutes a day for 5 days a week. Always give atleast 1-day rest to your body in a week. But this does not apply for dogs. Dogs need to go for a walk every day. The best way to fulfill your activity quota is you personally take your dogs for walk. That way, both of you’ll will remain healthy.
Second tip to look and feel younger is to avoid over eating. Obesity is very harmful for humans as well as dogs. Obesity is a preventable disease. But why wait for that! Precaution is always better than cure. When I was obese, I never had the confidence and struggled with self-image. Also, I looked 20 years older than my age. Fortunately, neither Casper or Junior have ever been obese. Thanks to their active lifestyle and accurate meal content. My dinners are always light, either soups or tea and biscuit or just theplas (masala roti). I have proper Indian lunch which includes my nutrients of the day, that is dal, roti, sabzi and chawal.
Mental illness is on the rise these days. Not all of us can go out for walks or take our dogs out for walks. And stress and depression does make you look older. For this, you can do pranayama and surya namashkar at home. Videos are widely available or youtube which are relatively easy to follow. For dogs, hide one-one kibble somewhere in the house and let your dog find it. This way, his brain and body will remain active.
Third and last important one, get enough sleep. When we sleep, our body repairs itself, body temperature decreases itself, eye movements stop, heart rate and muscles continue to relax and the brain waves slows down. Besides this, there are various benefits when you sleep with your dog. It decreases loneliness, maximizes comfort, increases sense of security, eases insomnia, reduces depression and stress, lowers blood pressure, reduces allergies later in life, promotes heart health and gives warmth to the body. This is what I call the true meaning of “Beauty Sleep”.
Over the years and following all the above myself, I have seen a drastic difference in me. I am aging, but gracefully, and, so is Junior. Yes, my Casper passed away young, but that was because he was a result of over breeding. Apart from this, always get yours and your dog’s blood check done every year. Do not over do anything. And never push or pressurize your dog to walk or play more. If he retreats, then let him be and start again after sometime. As he ages, change his dog food if needed and follow the vet’s instruction well. Older dogs need us more than anything and for them to have smooth old age, be vigilant and report any unusual behavior to the vet immediately.
Stay healthy, stay young, and remember – age is just a number!