Finding your pawfect match this Valentine’s Day
It’s the month of love. Of greeting cards, long stemmed roses and boxed chocolate. Of old flames, new flames, love hearts and lonely hearts.
I figure people can be roughly divided into two groups – those who love Valentine’s Day and those who avoid it.
While my longest relationship is with my husband Richard (and don’t get me wrong it’s a very happy one) some of my most treasured moments in life have been with my fur family.
It’s that human/animal bond that the RSPCA is celebrating this Valentine’s weekend.
If you’re anything like me you’ll know that often the love of your life has four legs, not two, and that there’s nothing quite like the unconditional love of a pet.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if people wore their feelings on their sleeves the way animals do. If a quick sniff determined whether we’d be friends or enemies.
Admittedly, it would feel strange initially if my husband jumped up and down excitedly when I got home from work or cocked his head from side to side enthralled in every word I uttered.
Pets have an enviable ability to make you feel like the most important and interesting person in the world. To them, I guess we are.
Sadly, the feeling’s not always reciprocated and that’s what brought me to the RSPCA in the first place. I saw a particularly brutal animal cruelty case on the news and instead of yelling at the TV, I decided to try to actually do something about it.
Being the President of the RSPCA is a daily rollercoaster ride of emotion.
In the last year we’ve seen dogs with their ears cut off, cats strangled and set on fire, koalas shot with slug guns and cattle and sheep left to starve to death.
On a weekly basis we see kittens and puppies thrown out with the trash and dogs used as breeding machines in the lucrative and abominable puppy farm industry.
It’s not all bad news though. For animals that find their way to us at the RSPCA, what they get is a second chance at love. Or more accurately, we as humans get a second chance to do the right thing by them.
I met one of my great loves at the RSPCA. Dennis, a Border Collie cross Kelpie had been ‘living’ in a combi van with 58 of his ‘brothers and sisters’ when the RSPCA intervened.
He was in a pretty bad way emotionally as he’d had very limited human contact. But it was love at first sight – not for me but for my other dog Billi. We had introduced her to many dogs in our quest for a new pet but Dennis was the first she responded to.
As soon as we saw the two of them together, we knew Dennis was the boy for us. My husband Richard worked closely with Dennis to help him overcome his fear of humans and the bond between the two is very strong.
Dennis’s rough start to life is now a distant memory and we couldn’t have wished for a more perfect pet.
People really do need to assess their compatibility with a new pet as seriously as they do a potential partner.
Do you have time to walk an energetic dog every day? Do you want a cat that will interact and play with you or one that’s happy to curl up on your lap? Does your pet need to be good with kids? Like Billi, do you have other pets in the household that need to be part of the selection process?
The RSPCA receives so many animals from the community that seemed like a good idea at the time but were just bad matches.
Everybody has a perfect pet match out there; they just need to know what questions to ask. You cannot choose a pet solely based on looks or breed. It has to be a decision based on compatibility.
I couldn’t have found a better match than Dennis. He’s great company but doesn’t need to be the centre of attention, he’s active but likes his quiet time relaxing on his blanket, he’s affectionate but not needy and he is really happy mixing with other dogs and people.
Pets are a lifelong commitment and will love you for life if you let them. And considering all the research that shows people with pets are healthier and happier, the return on your investment is immeasurable.
Playing cupid is the best part of our job and through our inaugural ‘Pawfect Match’ adoptathon, we’re using the banner of St Valentine to forge some lasting relationships.
Consider visiting your local RSPCA over the Valentine’s weekend. Your pawfect match could be already waiting for you.
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