Et tu, Brute? [Source Wikipedia]
Et tu, Brute? [Source Wikipedia]
The Ides of March is most well-known as the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar though it marked other less notorious events as well at the time. In the Roman calendar, the Ides of March marked the first full moon of the year (while March was the 3rd month in the Julian calendar, it was the first month in the oldest Roman calendar) as well as the religious festival of Anna Perenna which culminated the ‘new year’ celebrations. We know Marcus Brutus betrayed Caesar as predicted by the soothsayer earlier that month and stabbed him at a meeting of the senate at the Theatre of Pompey on March 15, 44 BC.

Was it political in nature or a question of loyalty? Sure Caesar had declared himself a dictator in perpetuity and was increasingly alienating the political elite at the time. The Ides of March is a day about loyalty in my books. It is the birthday of my son’s best friend and I thought about that this morning as I walked Sam. They’ve been friends for 30 years, since walking the halls of junior high. Seth and his family befriended Kevin and our family when we first moved to the city and we’ve stayed in touch over the years, through graduations, moves, marriages, births of babies and passing of family members. Our families are intertwined and long connected; Seth is godfather to my first grandchild and he’s called me “Mom-ika” for years as an homage.

While walking Sam, it struck me with everything that’s happened over the past 30 years, I had to only look at the end of the leash to witness an example of loyalty. Yesterday afternoon we ran into a neighbor who lives a couple blocks away. I first became acquainted with Colleen years ago when she owned a stately black Standard at the same time I did (McKenzie was my previous Standard, a super sweet and fabulously smart dog who was rescued from the Dumb Friends League as a pup and my faithful companion for 13 years). We began chatting when she’d walk past me in the front garden. When Sam joined me, she was taken with his sweetness and good looks and she always commented on how she’d love to get another Standard. After Ziggy passed and since there weren’t any Standards available through local rescue or shelters at the time, Colleen adopted a sweet pound pup, Norman, a  lovely and laid back Jack Russell mix. Norman was always the business end of the leash when they walked by, but was willing to patiently linger when they’d stop. Some time later, she rescued another JR-Skye, the three of them would walk by and Sam loved their visits. He’s so gregarious and all about pups stopping with their owners for visits though I’m convinced he’s more about the humans stopping then any of the dogs. Last Autumn, Norman passed away which was very hard on his fur-mom. As often happens after grieving, she adopted rescued another dog, Theona, a Chihuahua mix, who captivated her with cuddly sweetness a mere two weeks ago. In addition to being quite the cuddler, T-girl dances adorably on her hind legs in front of you much like a ballerina. After the initial greet and sniff, as usual Sam was more interested with the biped than the canines. While she’s very enamoured with little Theona, Colleen has remarked more than once, how she’d love to have another Standard who was like Sam. We chatted for a very long time catching up on various neighborhood topics and the future of the local Standard Poodle Rescue.  Theona, perhaps a little jealous of the attention given Sam at one point growled at him. Little dogs flummox Sam. He’s not sure whether they are a wind-up toy, a force to be reckoned with or some combination of the two. While he will defend himself, he’s not aggressive (unless you count this) and backed off expressing interest in either Skye or Theona but sat directly in front of me with his attention ready to be directed toward Colleen if she expressed any interest and Theona ‘allowed’ it.

It occurred to me that although Sam loves the attention of EVERYONE, he’s really my devoted loyal companion, through and through. He always comes back to me waiting for our next adventure and on this day about loyalty, I know where his lies. Happy Ides of March; here’s to you and your loyal companion. How does your loyal companion show loyalty toward you?

Live, love, bark! <3

9 ways adopting a pet is good for you

My buddy
My buddy

Did you know that November is “Adopt a Senior Pet Month”? And while Sam didn’t come from a shelter, he is considered a senior. I’d have snatched this sweetheart up in a heartbeat if he had been at a shelter. Scientific research has shown that pets improve the lives of their human companions. First hand experience has underscored that fact many times over for me. Check out these 9 ways adopting a pet isn’t just good for the pet; it’s good for you as well.

  • Pets owners have a greater level of self-esteem than not non-pet owners. Pet owners are often more extroverted and less fearful than non-pet owners.
  • Pet ownership can help reduce the risk of allergies. Contrary to popular belief, being exposed to pets early in life may actually decrease your risk of animal allergies later on. A  study from the department of bio-statistics and research epidemiology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit suggests experiences in the first year are associated with a healthy status later in life and that early life pet exposure does not put children at risk of being sensitized to these animals later in life.
  • Pets can reduce negative feelings. Similar to how thinking about a good friend may help you feel less negative about a bad social experience, thinking about a pet may have a similar effect. Psychology Today conducted a study on 97 pet owners who were unknowingly subjected to a negative social experience. They were then asked to write about their best friend. The participants who wrote about their pet or best friend showed zero negative feelings and were equally happy after the negative social experience. The control group of non-pet owners however exhibited negative feelings.
  • Pets can reduce loneliness. In addition to boosting self-esteem, pets can reduce the level of loneliness we feel. One study found that people with pet dogs reported having social needs fulfilled as effectively by their pets as by their friends. Despite the ‘weird cat lady stereotype’ it appears people don’t rely on their pets more when human companionship is lacking. People don’t turn solely to their pets but rather enjoy their company in addition to their human friends.
  • Pets make us feel supported. Pet owners feel they receive as much support from their pets as they do from their families feeling closer to their pets when they also feel closer to important people in their life.
  • Pets make us want to stay healthier. It just stands to reason when you’re a pet owner you are more likely to move around than be a couch potato when you have a dog or cat begging for attention. Studies shows that pet owners tend to be more healthy and active than non-pet owners.
  • Less stress. The mere act of petting a dog or cat can reduce stress levels. Studies seems to support the fact that pets can help reduce stress and provide greater comfort than our friends or spouses. Their unconditional love and lack of judgment make pets the perfect anti-stress remedy.
  • Animal magnetism. Owning a pet can actually draw others to us and improve our human relationships. Pets are obvious conversation starters which may attract others to us.
  • Stabilize blood pressure. Sam and I have seen first hand how a patient who was petting him had a significant reduction in high blood pressure after just a few minutes. The difference was truly remarkable and even the nurse commented on the level of reduction.

Apart from all those health benefits, adopting a senior pet can often be easier. Think lack of teething on your favorite pair of shoes, or furniture legs. 🙂 They may well be pros at performing basic commands. Older pets tend to be more calm and can adapt easily with a new family routine. With an older pet, what you see is what you get. Senior pets seem to be grateful for the new opportunity at a loving home. Their personalities are well-formed and you can easily figure out their needs for exercise and attention.  Remember too, you’ll be saving a life when you adopt a senior pet.

So stop by your local shelter or ASPCA adoption center and consider rescuing a pet. No doubt you’ll soon be asking yourself, “who rescued whom?” When you visit your local shelter, don’t forget those senior pets.  They make great companions and invariably have so much to offer in return. You’ll improve the life of both your pet and yourself. <3

Have you ever adopt a senior pet? What was your experience?