Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Pets in our world

Dear friends, I had already once written about my pet world. I will make sure this is not repetitive and is more informative than the other.

I have a lot of people (friends & family included) who think i am a weirdo b'coz i tend to lean more on the animal world. No offense taken, rather, I sincerely pity the ignorance of such people. I see them as people who are scared of the unknown. I try to replace this unknown with the familiars so I can give them a chance to make an informative decision about owning pets.

So why do we need pets?

We really don't need a pet. But some of us just want one. Sometimes it is very difficult to express one-self in words. No language can do us the favor when it comes to saying what we really feel or when we do.. others don't necessarily hear us. When words don't help much, how do we expect others to understand our silence? This is where pets come in.

Somehow, these animals that we think as not equals tend to hear us more than any of our own. As adults, we seem to find peace with our pets more than with our fellow beings. It doesn’t matter how tired you are, how sad you are, how tensed or frustrated you are from work, yours pets always get you and they never leave your side. People who already own pets will know what I mean. So yes, I want a pet that sits beside me, looks me in the eye and makes me feel better about even the worst times in my life.

There are researches that have proved constantly, how pets help in keeping you and your family healthy. Besides, have you seen a kid with a dog as big as a Saint Bernard??  Apart from looking really cute, pets give an opportunity to the kids to learn to be active, independent and responsible, to share and be happy about it. So yes, I definitely want a pet for myself & for my kids to grow with.

I have seen how pets make a difference in many lives. For example, I had a family friend who had troubles conceiving a baby. There was a lot of pressure & a constant feeling of emptiness in their lives. Someone recommended that they either adopt a baby or get a pet. The couples choose to get a pet as their last attempt at relaxing themselves and a year later, they had a baby. This was possible b’coz their dog took their mind away from all the pressure & filled their emptiness to an extent. Today, they have a healthy happy girl who practically sleeps on her big hairy four legged friend. So yes, I want a pet so I can appreciate all the good things that these beautiful animals can do for us.

Ok, so we want a pet, but why do we have to encourage pet markets?

Well, this is a rather difficult question. In this world, we humans manage to find all illegal ways to make money. One of the ways is illegal pet markets that do not have suitable clean and healthy environments for juvenile pets to be kept for sale. Without having a proper authorized pet rescues such markets will not be totally removed only by a few of us making a choice to boycott them. How I see this is, yes, if you like a pure breed you can go to a breeder who keeps the pets in a good environment. This is like having your own baby & taking a pet away from such markets is like adopting an orphan.. so why not?? Yes you pay them, and they would continue.. but until we find an alternative effective pet rescue solutions, this will continue and you cannot do much about it. If it was not you, someone else would. A good pet rescue system involves government authorization, funds, networks etc. In a country like mine, such targets are very difficult to attain. It is even more difficult to sacrifice today for a possible tomorrow isn’t it?

We want pets, we get one – but what do we get?

Now, this is a very interesting question. What is the ideal pet for you? Humans have shown interest in a variety of animals as pets starting from a small fish in the bowl to pythons & alligators. But let’s get real here. I always believed that one needs an interactive pet meaning, the one that you understand. Every animal interacts in its own ways. The most acceptable pets world-wide are dogs, cats, birds & fish. Lets look at each one of them & see how to choose them.


Every breed has a distinctive nature. Every dog within a breed has distinctive personality. Look for what your requirements are. Create a checklist based on health, life expectancy, activeness, grooming & maintenance, social traits like the general breed’s reaction to kids, outsiders & other pets. Short list the breed (cross-breed) that suits your requirements. When you are at the breeders or the shop & you have a bunch of possible pups in front of you, let the pet choose you. Look for a puppy that is interested in you, the one that is not scared of your movements, that is active & healthy. It is very important to know that the puppy you choose has had the at least the minimum time with his / her mother. Only such puppies will be healthy and not overly dependent on his/her human friend. Look for any signs of illness in their eyes, under their paws and inside their mouth. Feel their stomach & see if you feel any hardness. If everything is clear, ask the seller to get the dog checked by a vet & certify as healthy before you take him home or ask him to let you get the puppy checked & get back to him within a day with feedback. Get the puppy checked, de-wormed & vaccinated if not done already & take him home.

This are my dogs, alex, bruce, eddie & happy

When it comes to dogs, it doesn’t really matter which breed you choose for your first as long as you had done your research. The reason being, dogs are relatively easy to take care of & they show signs of any illness relatively quicker & visible than other pets like birds.


Choosing a cat is not very different from choosing a dog. The same amount of research & checklists are required. However, the living conditions are different. For instance, your cats don’t need to be tied down once in a while or some of you may be allergic to cats and you may not know it until you choose one to live with you. Unlike dogs, cats need high play grounds, scratching poles, different food & toys, different vaccination & grooming requirements etc.,. So your research should include all these additional factors. If you don’t know whether you have an allergy to cats, try spending some time holding the cat close to you at the pet shop. If your eyes start burning & watering or if you start sneezing or find it hard to breath etc., you are probably allergic to cats. If you have kids, make sure they are not allergic either.

This is my sister's cat, he was rescued by bruce.


Now, birds are a tricky subject. Not everyone is good to have a parrot as a pet. Birds, unlike dogs or cats, take a long time to accept you as a family. When I say long, I mean really long. Some birds might take a few days, some take few weeks & some take months to accept you and your family, especially if you choose to get an adult bird. If you choose to get a chick, then the baby bird needs proper feeding that involves techniques, they need proper heating (warmth) and close monitoring like measuring their weights everytime you feed them and every day etc.,.

Bird’s lifespan can be as high as 80 years depending on the breed. This means more responsibility for their human friends & more commitment. Birds are generally very intelligent, very active, very creative, very destructive & very noisy depending on the breed. Because of all these, birds require a human friend who is willing to spend the time with them, train them, give them enough toys that are not harmful to them etc.,.

Not all birds get along with everyone in your family or outsiders or kids or your other pets. Even a small bird like a cockatiel can bite you hard enough to draw blood from your fingers. The most tricky part of having a bird as a pet is their health. Birds usually don’t show signs of sickness until its too late. So it is very important to observe their weight very often & also the amount of food they eat, the water they drink & very importantly understand their poop.. Yes you heard it right. You need to understand what the bird poop is made of & how it changes with the food they eat & what is healthy & unhealthy poop etc., These are the only things that would warn you about their health.

They have specific diet requirements & specific living conditions. They need to be used to eating different variety of food including vegetables, fruits, nuts, breads, rice etc.,. some birds can be very picky eaters & it can be a challenge to get them to eat variety food. Things like not using a Teflon coated cookwares or not using fragrant room freshners, pest control, even perfumes can be a challenge in owning birds as pets.

For the first timers, who wants to have a bird as the pet for the first time, it is very important to be careful about what you choose. I personally would not choose a chick from any breed, bcoz the feeding technique can be a challenge for both the human and the baby bird. Imagine feeding the baby every 2 hours and even in the nights and doing it right with the right food in the right temperature etc.,. if you choose to go for an adult bird it might be difficult for a first timer to understand the bird’s body language & could be intimidated. Once the bird knows you are scared of him, he is too smart to let you anywhere close to his cage.

Larger birds are highly territorial & very hormonal during the breeding seasons. They go through different phases that can be challenging for a first timer. A first timer can probably choose a weaned baby that is still a chick but can eat by himself. But you should learn to establish connection to the bird at an early stage so it is easy for you to keep track of his health closely. You might have to learn & train the parrot to let you hold him quickly so you can measure his weight everyday.

Once you have done your research and made a choice on the breed, you look for certain key things in a bird when you have to pick one. Similar to dogs or cats, the bird should show interest in you. As the seller to set up a room for only you and the bird for few mins to see if he shows any interest in you. As I said before, birds are very intelligent in their own way. This makes them very curious about everything around them & us. So if you are holding a mobile phone or a shiny keychain etc., the bird should be tempted to take a peek at it if he is interested in you. Other than showing interest in you, he should also be attentive of his environment. Any noise should make him turn around. A healthy parrot would be attentive, active, curious & noisy. Look under his wings for any signs of illness. Sometimes, their feathers under the wings may look dull or scorched in patches. This is one sign to look out for. As ever, look for their poop while you spend some time with them. So, one needs to research a great deal about the bird when they choose to have a parrot for a pet.

Having said all that, if you can move past all the above flags, having a parrot for a pet is the most rewarding of all. Imagine a pet that can actually understand you and sometimes reply in a sensible way. My parrots tell me “I love you” when I tell them the same. So all I have to say is “I love you” & I get it right back with kisses..

Here are my birds diya, feebo, chinna & some cockatiels that hatched in our aviary & hand trained by my little sister:

So guyz, if you think you want one of these pets to brighten your days talk to one of us who have one. Try to visit your friends who have pets & see what they can do for you & choose the right pet for you. Do your research, learn about these amazing animals & then make your choice. If you still think pets are not meant to be, make an effort to learn about them & not judge the people who have them….

Good luck guyz .. hope you all have a great life ahead.

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