SPECIAL SUMMERTIME TIP! Leave out at least two bowls of water when you go to work. That way, Fluffy or Fido can spill one and still stay hydrated. And, of course, never leave an animal in a hot car, even with windows cracked.
FIDO: Hey, Fluff, what’s up? You don’t look very happy today.
FLUFFY: I’m not. I tore up the new curtains and mom got mad.
FIDO: Of course she did. Why would you do something like that?
FLUFFY: She left me alone – again! – and I got bored. But then I saw the curtains, and they were so much fun to play with that I just kept pawing at them until they were all torn up.
FIDO: I know what you mean. I hate it when they leave me all alone for hours. I get bored, too. And…well, I miss them.
FLUFFY: Me, too. But don’t ever tell them I said that!
FIDO: Don’t worry; your secret is safe with me. Hey, I have an idea! Let’s get Meryl to give moms and dads some tips on how to keep us happy while they’re at work.
…And so they did. Follow these simple tips to keep pets happy while you’re away from home.
And, speaking of the environment, clutter free is great for avoiding messes. Of course, we can’t keep our homes pristine, and most of us wouldn’t want to. But the less of certain types of clutter, the less opportunity for Fluffy or Fido to make a mess. Take trash out before you leave, or make sure to use a covered can. Keep houseplants out of reach if you don’t want to find dirt all over the floor when you get home. Take an extra second to put the coffee cup in the sink instead of leaving it on the nightstand where a random jump or swipe of the paw can overturn it.
Use food. Animals, like people, love food, and often turn to it when they’re bored. You don’t want to overfeed, but making food available will make the day happier for them. Think about investing in an automatic feeder; it will really spice up the day when it opens to reveal the meal inside. If you’re watching your pet’s weight, you can control the portions, giving just a bite or two, so no worries about overfeeding. If you free feed (meaning that food is available all day), you can put a few treats in the feeder. And if you’re a dog person, try putting food or treats into a treat ball or puzzle feeder. That will keep your canine companion busy and out of trouble for hours.
Leave a piece of yourself behind. Part of the reason our pets act out when we’re gone is because they miss us. (Awwww!) A pile of dirty laundry, a favorite bathrobe, even the towel you used this morning, can be a great comfort to your baby. Anything that holds the smell of you will make him or her feel secure. If they have a favorite blanket or pillow of their own, don’t wash it just before you leave the house. It’s not comforting when it doesn’t smell like them. Let it be dirty a while longer (unless, of course, they’ve soiled it!), and wash it when you know you’ll be around until they re-establish their scent.
Invite a neighbor to visit. If you can afford it, hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to come visit once or twice a day is a great solution to animal loneliness. And for socialization, nothing beats a good doggie day care once or twice a week. But for many of us, those options are out of our price range. So take a look around and see if you’ve got friends or neighbors who would be willing to drop by for a visit while you’re gone. Some pet owners barter services – you visit Fluffy, I’ll pick up your dry cleaning. Others form small groups of 4 or 5, and each takes a day to be the designated visitor. And sometimes, if you’re really lucky, you’ll find a stay-at-home friend or neighbor who loves animals and will stop by to visit just for fun. No matter which option you choose, it’s a win for everyone, and especially for Fluffy and Fido.
And now, hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work you go…with a light heart and a happy smile, knowing that you’ve made everything as comfortable and happy as possible for your babies!
We hope you enjoyed these tips, and that you learned something, too! We’d love to hear from you, so please send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meryl Schwarz, M.A., M.Ed., is an animal lover and Certified Professional Coach specializing in grief support for people grieving their beloved animals. Whether you’re grieving a terminal diagnosis, the normal aging process, a disappearance or a death, Meryl offers compassionate and caring support with the wisdom of experience. Visit her website at www.merylschwarz.com to schedule an appointment by Skype or phone.