It’s a little thing. Hanging with your dog, cat, rabbit, ferret, otter, whatever during the hot months. Just kicking back and seeing what life brings. These days, it brings a lot – to be sure – and with so many of us adjusting our daily routines, we find ourselves looking for ways to make the most of our down time. One "find" that's always a good idea is doing stuff with your pet.
I’m a big animal person and going into my local pet supply shop to grab dog food for my two girls on adoption day is really hard. I want to scoop up every single animal in need of a home that I come across. While I’ll admit I’m definitely a dog person — and more on the big dog than the small dog vibe — I’ve done enough housesitting to know that I’ll cuddle, coo and adore any type of four-legged/winged creature. During this time, I’ve realized even more than ever just how much these furballs mean not just to me, but a whole lot of us.
A furry silver lining
Not surprising, I’m sure, is the fact that when the shit hit the proverbial COVID fan and many of us found ourselves spending so much time alone, there was a run on animal shelters. For the most part, we need a living being to interact with. Enter pets. These unconditionally loving cuddle monsters just seem to get us. They are the companions we seek when so much is out of whack.
Pets are also a fantastic excuse for getting us up and moving around. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a dog, cat, rabbit, tortoise, whatever, our animals need activity of some form, even if it’s playing hide-and-seek behind a piece of paper with your hamster. These are perennial kids and enjoying a bit of silliness with them to beat the summer heat is not only good for them, but it’s fantastic for your well-being.
Live, Laugh, Love Playing with Your Pets
Summer, like most things, is a bit different this year. A lot less travel — ultimate understatement, right? — and a bit more “don’t know what to do with myself” time on your hands. There’s this amazing thing about pets that creates easy enjoyment and the ability to lose yourself for a while. Just like kids of a certain age, it takes very little to entertain and be entertained by our animals. It’s these little things that take your mind off your day-to-day and actually lowers your blood pressure, relieves your stress, and just makes you feel good.
Go to the drive-in
Yes, they are back and while it may seem silly, take your dog, cat, turtle, whatever to catch a flick from the comfort of your car. Make a comfy spot inside your ride, bring some treats for the two or however many of you and lose yourself in old time movie viewing. You can even share your thoughts on the movie or anything else on your mind with your animal. Sure, they won't necessarily answer back, and, okay, if someone were to look inside your car they might wonder, "Um... huh?" but talking to pets whenever you're hanging out is so unbelievably freeing. And who cares what anyone else thinks, right? This is YOUR time with your brood. Plus, no one can get mad at you for talking during the movie, because you're in your car. Win, win.
Hotter months just seem to be the right time to take in the constellations. It’s not only usually when we have the most time on our hands to do so, but because of where the globe sits during the summer months, the things you’ll see from late-May to September are different than other times of the year. Share your love of looking up into the heavens with your animal BFF. You can just sit in your yard, look out over your balcony, or take a drive to a spot that is socially distanced from others and open their pet eyes to the wonders above.
Share a (pet-friendly) cold, icy treat
Okay, call me crazy, but my dogs like both ice and cold apples with peanut butter… among other things. Nowadays, there are so many unique and pet-friendly treats that were once the domain of humans, it’s nuts (not as in nuts to "eat" but... you know). Dog ice cream cones, frozen tuna treats for cats, chilled fruit pops for bunnies — it cools both you and your furball down, especially if you’ve been playing a hardcore game of fetch, sending your kitty in a tizzy after some yarn, or chasing your rabbit into binky heaven. Aah…
Water, water everywhere, to play and drink and shake
Cats may not be into the water so much, but most pets actually do take to it to cool off. And even some cats like it. So give it a shot, right? A backyard hose — that you let run until the water that comes out is cool, okay? — is splendor for dogs to grab a drink from. Pigs, hedgehogs, even guinea pigs have a thing for taking a dip when it’s hot. Those small kiddie pools are great for them to cool off and it’s a total blast to watch your kitty lean over, dip their paw in to see “what the…?” is up with this thing in the middle of your yard. And if you don’t have a yard, that’s okay. You have a bathroom. Probably a kitchen, right? Get creative. You can even toss pet toys into the shower, get in with your pet and go for it.
Throw another (unseasoned) yum on the barbie
‘Tis the season for grilling. Cool. Marinate away whatever you are making for yourself and set aside unseasoned meat, fish, veggies for your pet and grill those as well. Just make sure to keep them separate, that your animal isn’t allergic to whatever it is you’re making, and let it cool before you break the proverbial bread with them. A tasty treat for being such a good friend? Oh, yeah. So worth it.
Chilling out for the summer together
It’s simple. Hanging with your pets, sharing quality time together in fun and unique ways bonds you to each other and lightens your mood, load, heart. Summertime can get really hot and these days, the heat isn’t the only thing we all need relief from. Life is complicated and taking a break to indulge our fun, frivolous and loving side with a forever companion who is all about us really does make these days that much more fun. So give into your pet owner side. Sing at the top of your lungs with your bird, play hide-and-seek with your cat, share a frozen banana with your dog, swim with your pig. It’s been a long few months. Enjoy this summer with your pet in ways you may not have even thought of before and rediscover how wonderful life is. Because our animals live so much in the moment, it’s beautiful to see the world through their loving, curious eyes.
What a great reminder of how glorious living really is.