(The first paragraph isn’t meant to be funny or disrespectful, it just is what it is and is unintentionally on topic. Also, I really need to stop writing disclaimers!)
Happy Friday! I have to admit that I’m actually slightly dreading this weekend. I need to start my 18 hour cat dissection lab for my A&P class and I’m not exactly looking forward to spending all day in my basement trying not to inhale too much formaldehyde while I dissect a poor cat. The animal lover in me is completely conflicted. I find a little comfort in the fact that the cat is from a kill shelter, not bred for this reason. I look at it this way: instead of being cremated, the cat is living on, so to speak, to help me so that I can help others.
The dreaded box
Speaking of shelter animals, did you know that today is National Pet Day? And did you know that there are some great health benefits to owning a pet? Pets may reduce your risk of heart disease, you’ll be less likely to suffer from depression, and if your kids grow up with pets, they may be less likely to have allergies (ahem, Whole Health Mom and Dad!). I know that when I’ve had a hard day and go to pet my rabbit, I definitely feel a bit more at peace with the world. I can feel my breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate go down, as well as my mind start to clear out.
Someone decided to crash my yoga session, but I can’t be mad when all he wants is to be pet.
My love of animals started at a young age when, like many little girls, I fell in love with horses. I started riding when I was six, training in dressage at an Arabian horse barn, and I kept at it until I was in high school. Once high school hit, I was involved in school sports and had little time for it. Plus, I didn’t enjoy showing and I was being pushed further in that direction. I even considered becoming a large animal vet for a time, but felt my skill set was more of the people variety.
Bucket item checked off: riding on a beach in Barbados!
I miss riding and hope to return to it someday. It’s definitely one of those things that I regret giving up. There was a part of me that felt more complete being around horses. I felt that the horse and I understood each other (most of the time) and the bond between horse and rider is a unique one. Horses are such amazing, intelligent creatures and I am blessed to have known so many wonderful ones over the years.
Growing up, my parents wouldn’t allow us to have a dog, but they did allow me to get a rabbit when I was about ten. Unfortunately, she broke her back not long after we adopted her and died quickly after that. Then a friend of mine’s guinea pigs had babies, so I was allowed to get two of them. We thought they were sisters until one day I walked into their room, only to find four guinea pigs instead of two. That was a shocking experience to say the least. They lived through most of my high school years and I’ll get to re-live the experience again when we babysit our cousin’s guinea pigs next week!
We have yet to own a dog (though we had a test run/fostered one for about a week), but I look forward to the day we do. Just this week my co-worker was saying that when she was curled up on the bathroom floor in the middle of the night thanks to the flu, her dog was by her side the entire time to watch over her and keep her company. I can’t think of anything sweeter or more comforting!
Harry, our foster Corgi
In the meantime, we are rabbit people. Though we just have one rabbit right now, WH Family actually consisted of up to three rabbits at one time. This is Bella and Winston, our bonded pair of buns.
Unfortunately, we lost Bella in early 2010 due to a gut issue (food was getting stuck in pockets of digestive tract and kept building up over time, leaving her malnourished—we’re pretty sure her issue was due to serious inbreeding) and Winston in mid-2011 to e.cunniculi, which he had been battling for a few years.
Bella was the first pet we ever had to put down and it was one of the most heart-wrenching decisions and situations we’ve gone through. Choosing to end a life was not a task we took lightly, but we also didn’t want our selfishness of wanting her around to prolong her suffering. In that moment, in those first few days, it is terrible and you feel as though you’ve done the most awful thing possible.
Rest in peace, Winston and Bella
Thankfully, we still have Wilbur to love. Now that he’s the only bun in the household, he’s thrived on having our undivided attention. He has slowly warmed to us over the years and though he can still be a bit aggressive if he feels he’s backed into a corner, we’ve figured each other out and love hanging out together.
Wilbur wanted to remind you to eat your greens!
We’ve also worked with a local rabbit rescue group and fostered other rabbits over the years. Quiggles was one of our favorites. He was much closer to a cat than a rabbit, following us around and jumping on us and licking us to death whenever we were on the floor.
Quiggles “grooming” WHH
We also had a mom and her three baby buns, who were adorable. The mom had really bad mats in her fur, which was terrible to witness. I don’t understand people sometimes. If you can’t take care of a pet, don’t get one!
A common misconception about rabbits is that they like to be held. This couldn’t be farther from the truth except in rare instances and when they’re young, as above. In the wild, rabbits are prey. Any time you take their feet off the ground they think they are about to be someone’s dinner. Rabbits haven’t been domesticated for very long so most of their instincts are still very strong. Whenver we occasionally need to pick them up to check them over and clip their nails, they either flail around or play dead. It’s not a pleasant experience for either owner or bun. So if you’re considering a rabbit as a pet, please know this critical fact.
Necessary to clip his nails
As a long-time animal advocate and former vegetarian (for over seven years), I’d like to encourage you to adopt if you are considering getting a pet. The rewards of saving an animal are endless, as is their love and devotion. I understand if you want a particular breed of animal and won’t argue with you too much if you want to get one from a breeder, but please consider adoption as your first option.
Questions: Do you have a pet(s)? Did you grow up with pets or only have them as an adult? Do you feel your health has benefitted from having a pet? Have you fostered or worked with a rescue group?
P.S. I’ll be giving a running update next week. I’ve found the less I talk about it, the better I’m recovering, hence the silence!
Also, my work team that ran last weekend’s 5k came in first place, with one of our runners coming in at 16:25 for second place! Holla! I didn’t end up participating due to a plantar fasciitis flare-up the day before and instead manned peoples’ belongings.