By Jill Morgenstern of Do Try This at Home
Animal rights activists gathered yesterday afternoon on the busy corner of Westheimer and Post Oak in order to protest what they say is a deplorable lack of caring and concern from local pet owners.
“We’re basically seeing the trickle down effect of helicopter parenting in these pets,” stated one activist who preferred to remain anonymous. “It’s unfair to both the animals and their families when cats and dogs are not given enough chores and are made to feel like pampered special snowflakes. They need to be looked at as an integral part of the family. It makes them feel loved and needed.”
In past generations, people relied on their animals for everyday needs, such as cats who chased mice and cows who provided the family with milk. But these days, household pets don’t get that same level of responsibility.
“Barking at mailmen can be a good starter chore for a dog,” advises area vet Dr. Travis Saunders. “For cats, try taking a little longer between exterminator visits and maybe not cleaning your countertops quite as well. Chasing cockroaches can help train them to eventually help the family get rid of bigger vermin.”
When it comes to encouraging reluctant pets, Dr. Saunders recommends a sticker chart or similar reward system. “Let’s say your dog has been successful at barking at strangers for a few months and now is ready to take on more responsibility. Some dogs can even be trained to push a canister vacuum cleaner and lick the dishes before they go into the dishwasher.”
“You want to encourage this behavior in a positive manner, without punishment and in an age appropriate way. Get a piece of graph paper, put it on the wall at your dog’s eye level, and give the animal a sticker for each chore completed. Make sure that you’re setting up your pet for success by making the goal attainable. For instance, five stickers might get your dog a game of catch or your cat a chance at that ball of yarn he’s been eyeing.”
Activist Kristin Brady agrees that these methods could help. “We just need to raise awareness for this cause.” she stated. “These poor animals don’t need to suffer because of their owners’ ignorance.”
About the Author
Jill Morgenstern is a wife, mother, and teacher. She has four kids ages 27 to three, 13 years of teaching experience, and a Master’s Degree in Teaching Reading, yet reserves the right to be wrong about everything. She writes about food, family, and the ridiculous at Do Try This at Home. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.