Helping Pets with Disruptions

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May 5, 2018
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October 8, 2018

Helping Pets with Disruptions

Life is busy. We come and go and plan out our days. Our pets get used to our routine and develop their routine accordingly. No joke! I recently chatted with a cat whose mom was considering a new home-based job instead of being out of the home several hours most days. The kitty was clear that she loves her mom very much… and if mom is going to be home more, please don’t disrupt my routine!

It may not come immediately to mind if we are in the midst of disruption; however, whenever possible let’s try to warn and/or explain to our pets what has changed for the day, the week, or even the month so they can roll with the punches more gracefully. Perhaps they will even be a help to us as we navigate the disruption.

When should we explain changes or disruptions?

Unexpected household emergencies requiring an urgent visit from a repair person, a family emergency requiring us to leave town immediately (with or without our pets), natural disaster evacuations, and even unexpected house guests cause a change in routine that may prove challenging for some pets.

For example, I brought a dog home for an unexpected overnight stay. I wasn’t concerned bringing her home even though my pup wasn’t expecting her, I just wanted him to be prepared. I sat in my car after pulling into the garage and held the vision for a few seconds of the visiting pup entering the house with me and a modified greeting for all of us. I included an explanation that his dog-friend had a rough afternoon and I asked him to be polite and calm. I held the vision of their hellos happening with all eight paws remaining on the floor. It probably would have been fine without those 30 seconds of communication, yet it made me feel better knowing I’d done everything possible to smooth out this disruption to our routine.

How we communicate what to expect

Any disruptions – household or family emergencies, evacuations, a change in school schedules – can be handled similarly.

  1. Identify the disruption, what it means to you and what it may mean for your pets;
  2. Explain the disruption calmly and with as much confidence as you can muster in the circumstance;
  3. Ask for their cooperation and patience through the disrupted timeframe;
  4. Hold an image of what you expect to happen and/or what the solution is;
  5. Throughout this brief exercise hold the feeling of safety for all. We can’t know every twist and turn but use this part of the exercise to think through possibilities and how you can ensure safety for yourself, family members, and your pets. That’s all they ask of us, and all we can promise is our sincere intention to keep everyone safe.

Life happens, and we don’t have a crystal ball. We do our best in every moment, and when we can include our beloved animal companions in our change of plans we all feel better and more connected!

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