Create positive changes for pets in 2014

  • By Dr. Cynthia Maro For The Times
  • 0

As I sit to write, a 6-month-old gray, Burmese kitten named Jupiter is kneading the blanket that is draped over my feet. Izzy, a mature, sable, female Burmese is lying at my side.

Everything is quiet indoors and out. Jupiter is purring so loudly I can hear him over the tapping of the keyboard. Every few minutes he makes a loop around me, walking over my shoulders, then across my stomach and keyboard where he stops to touch his nose to my face or rub his head into my arm, asking for attention.

Today, I have the time to give that attention. I am reflecting on the contrast between feeling the pressure of a close deadline and the luxury of extra time to attend to simple kindnesses. Both can yield great results, however, there is much to be appreciated from creating calm, organized plans that include vision, goals, and a budget for time, and the finances to achieve them.

If you are like many people who want to spend more time with those you love and do more activities you enjoy with like-minded people, my suggestions for healthy resolutions include:

l Create more connections with pets and people (instead of socially isolating activities):

Schedule time to play with your pets; take an extra walk or class in pet massage or agility.

Find other animal-loving people to spend time with; dog, cat and other special interest groups exist all around our area. Check out kennel and training clubs.

Look for Meet-up Groups online or start your own group in your local community.

Go to the dog park or a pet show.

l Help other pet owners or volunteer with animal rescue groups. Accept that you have much to offer the world just as you are (you don’t have to lose any weight, starve yourself or be uncomfortable to do these). Identify your talents and strengths and see how you can share those with others:

Visit your local shelter and become a pet caretaker, foster an animal in need of a permanent home, or help an animal non-profit group with a fundraiser.

Offer to walk pets for busy people in your neighborhood or for elderly neighbors.

Take pets to therapy for hospitalized kids, shut-ins and handicapped individuals. Socially anxious kids and adults benefit from pet therapy, as well.

Foster and train a guide or service dog.

l Continue learning all year long and fulfill your dreams to work with animals:

Learn how you can help enrich lives of humans and animals; read about games that enrich pet’s lives.

Consider becoming a zoo docent or volunteer at an aviary or a small zoo.

Take a class in animal massage for your own pets, volunteer at a wildlife rehab center or other animal non-profit center, or work with a nursing home to bring pets to residents.

If people in your neighborhood see a stray cat or wildlife problem, be the one to start a group for wildlife protection or a spay-and-release feral cat program.

l Create a budget for all of your pets’ needs. Healthy food, veterinary care, boarding for vacation time, grooming and more (then avoid impulse spending on unhealthy treats and toys):

Budget for two wellness visits per pet, annually, to prevent crisis care.

Work with your vet to put a monthly payment on account for regular care to spread out payments over time to prevent not having funds for vet care.

Learn from your vet about truth-in-labeling pet foods and which foods and snacks are best for all species. Then budget for a healthy diet minus all the expensive bad treats with corn syrup and high carbs.

Budget for animal chiropractic adjustment from an AVCA certified animal chiropractor to help pets stay active.

Fortunately for all of us, we can start a new year on any given day, and we can create daily positive changes for ourselves and the animals that enhance all our lives. We are never too old to take a fresh look at life and start anew.

So print this article, reflect on all you can do just as you are now and take 20 minutes to:

Create and write your goals.

Break your goals down into smaller, doable portions defined by time and effort.

Write your goals in a planner or a calendar that you check frequently.

Create a reward for yourself for achieving your smaller goals on a daily basis.

If you miss a benchmark, forgive yourself and start up again the next day.

Happy 2014!

Dr. Cynthia Maro is a veterinarian at the Ellwood Animal Hospital in Ellwood City and the Chippewa Animal Hospital in Chippewa Township. She writes a biweekly column on pet care and health issues. If you have a topic you’d like addressed, please email