We all treat our animals like babies right? One of the basic things about the human-animal relationship is that we assign family titles, not just to our pets, but also to our relationships with them – we call ourselves “Mommy” or “Daddy” they are our “little boy” or “little girl”. This helps us to personalise our pets, make them ours. Whilst you may think that its just your standard pet owner that does this, even some of us professionals do it too! I certainly do.
One of my “daughters”, is my little baby girl Stoosh – a North American striped skunk. She celebrated her first birthday last weekend, and (although some will think this slightly strange) we held a little party for her. She had a family card, gifts, we sang “Happy Birthday” and she even had a cake! Due to work commitments, Stoosh had to work on her birthday at someone else's party, and even the birthday girl and assembled party guests insisted on singing “Happy Birthday” to her – the birthday girl had even made her a card. It was clear that Stoosh enjoyed the attention, although I am not sure that she was aware of what it was all about.
Animals live in the moment, they don’t care what happened yesterday, or what will happen tomorrow, they just think about what is happening now. To them the fact that you gave them a treat yesterday is neither here nor there, what is important is what you are doing with them NOW. So long as you are loving them in one way or another, then that is what matters to them.
So why worry about celebrating their birthday? Well it helps both animal and owner – by lavishing all of this attention on our pet (and okay, they don’t understand the card, or the singing) we are showing them the love and thanks that they so dearly deserve, for enriching our lives every day; for us, we are strengthening that human-animal bond and clearly stating “this animal is very important to me/us”, it also give us a focus away from the problems or concerns that we face on a daily basis – like the animal we are living in the moment. This is particularly helpful for those who suffer from depression and anxiety, because not only can you do this on an annual basis for their birthday, but you can also involve them in other family celebrations and events.
“But animals can’t eat cake” I hear you shout. This is quite correct, but they can if it is specially made for them! There are a number of companies out there that make animal friendly “celebration cakes”, you can now even buy them from major high street pet stores – or look on line and make one yourself. Stoosh, well Stoosh had a crustless quiche as a cake (she loves cheese, eggs etc), with a candle in it and decorations of apples and worms!
So long as you check the ingredients, and make sure that there is nothing in the “cake” that may prove harmful to your pet (such as sugar, chocolate, sugar substitutes etc) then it should be fine. Remember its their birthday, and this is a treat for them – please bear in mind that Stoosh DID NOT get to eat the entire quiche, she had a skunk size portion, as a treat on her birthday.
If you love your pet, just like you love or would love your children, and treat them as one of the family, then they deserve to have their birthday celebrated in some way. So next time there is a family celebration, or your pet gets another year older - CELEBRATE. It’ll be great fun for them, and great fun for you, and you will be strengthening that human-animal bond between you.
One of my favourite quotes, and something that animals show us all of the time: “Live life like somebody left the gate open!” Its what they do, and deep down, its what we all should do!
Critterish Allsorts undertake animal assisted therapy sessions, with their critters (who are all family pets), on an individual or group basis in your home, hospital, care home, foster home, or school. Visit their website for more information.This blog is written by Dale Preece-Kelly from Critterish Allsorts, if you would like to find out more about them check out our previous article 'Meet the Critterish Allsorts'