Ah, it’s that time of year again. The merriment of Christmas is fading fast, and we step into the new year with a mixture of excitement, hope and (let’s face it these days) a degree of trepidation. If you’re like most of us, you start January with great intentions, but as the cold, wet days march on, it gets harder to stick to even our best-laid plans. But inspiration could be closer than you think…why not recruit your pet to join you in your resolutions this year, and maybe we can even learn a thing or two from them! Read on for our top five pet-inspired New Year’s Resolutions for a healthier and happier new year.
If the idea of getting up in the dark, cold dawn to hit the gym before work doesn’t fill you with joy…you’re in good company (and frankly, normal!). So why is it that our pets (most of the time anyway) are just SO excited to get into the great outdoors? For both dogs and cats, it’s not just about exercise, it’s their version of a social occasion, and one they actually want to attend. New smells to decipher, other pets to greet (or grumble at), small creatures to chase- there’s so much more to being outdoors than just stretching their legs. So take a leaf out of their book and find a way to exercise that you love, and if you can involve your pet, then even better! Wild swims, walking on the beach, or simply dancing round the house with your four-legged friend- anything’s got to be better than a 5am session at the gym!
Doing something entirely new can get us out of a rut we didn’t know we were in, and it doesn’t even have to involve leaving the house (a big plus point for those freezing days when the novelty of snow has long since worn off)! Learn to sew while your pet snoozes next to you on the sofa, teach yourself guitar or learn to cook. Or why not try an agility class with your pet, or brush up on their training by finding a canine class nearby? Not only are these classes a great way of spending more time with your four-legged pal, they can be great social occasions as well. If you’re getting out and about more with your pet, make sure you keep up with regular worm and flea treatment, and their vaccinations, to keep them protected on their adventures. Our pets may be creatures of habit and love their routines, but most will revel in the chance to try a new class with you, or even just meet a few new pet friends!
Doing something for others without expecting anything in return is almost the definition of being a pet- if there are more patient listeners to our problems than our furry friends then we’re yet to meet them! And as well as being an obviously great thing to do, it’s well known that helping other people gives us a huge boost of feel-good vibes. Whatever your skill set, there will be someone who will appreciate your time. Your local pet shelter might need help walking pooches, you can donate blood, help pick up litter in your community, volunteer at a local charity shop; the list is endless.
Did you know that some dogs can donate blood too? Dogs and cats can develop life threatening diseases for which a blood or plasma transfusion is, quite literally, a lifesaver. The Pet Blood Bank is a registered charity that collects blood from donor dogs around the country and stores that blood to be sent out when need arises to help save the life of a critically ill pet. Look at their website (www.petbloodbankuk.org) to see how your pooch might be able to help!
If your pet had a to-do list, we’d bet good money that “snoozing, eating and watching the world go by from a comfy window seat” would be high on the list of their day’s priorities. We all have such long lists of tasks we feel we HAVE to do, it can be easy to forget to squeeze in some things we actually enjoy! No matter how small it is, doing something purely for the fun of it gives us a happiness-boost that can help stave off the January blues. Cooking a meal you’ve always wanted to try, listening to a new podcast, taking a stroll somewhere different, even just going somewhere quiet to sit and look at the stars can help us regain some perspective and avoid us burning out.
Make sure you extend this care to your four-legged pals as well; they give us so much joy and ask for so little in return, that taking simple steps to keep them happy and healthy is the least we can do. Most pets will adore the attention of a regular grooming session, and as well as helping those coats gleam, it means you can check they haven’t picked up any unwelcome hitch-hikers, like fleas or ticks. Make sure you schedule in regular flea and worm treatment for your pet throughout the year too, as these pests are a year-round problem, and help them stay in in tip-top health.
One of the most unique and inspiring things about our pets, is their ability to focus on what’s in front of their noses. They don’t spend time worrying about whether they may have accidentally offended a dog on yesterday’s walk, or wondering where they’ll be in five years’ time. Of course, someone’s paying for a roof over their head and food for their tummy and it’s unrealistic to think we can avoid life’s stresses altogether. But trying to appreciate the smaller things in life, and not dwelling too much on those things we can’t control, can really help lift our spirits. Turning off technology now and then is a great start, and getting out into nature as often as possible and truly tuning into our surroundings is hugely beneficial too.
Who knew our pets could be such a source of inspiration! Remember to re-pay the favour by keeping up with your four-legged friend’s preventative healthcare- such as vaccinations and parasite treatment, as well as giving them all the attention and love they deserve! Above all, go easy on yourself – even making one or two changes is a huge step, and if your only resolution this year is to spend more time with your pet, then it will be a year well spent!