Saturday, 9 March 2013

Balancing Act (There is no "one or the other" Part II)

Some of our pets are misbehaving and I claim full responsibility for their atrocious behavior.

When I told them they were about to have a two-legged new sibling, I did not count on how much of my time and energy would go into caring for a tiny human being. Well, not so tiny now that he's approaching his third month. Nor did I anticipate that my four-legged children expected things would be the same, just as though another four-legged sibling had arrived.

The ones I reared from their first/second month of kitten-/puppy-hood were the hardest hit. Thankfully, all four who are most attached to me have decided to take it upon themselves to be my sons co-caregivers. I can't say this has always been helpful with the exception of Kuro's penchant for infant foot warming. Baxter's tongue has been warned to stay away from the baby's feet and Yuki tersely informed that the new brother is not a toy. As for Kaito, I am only too glad he finds it sufficient to be allowed to sleep two feet from where we rest during the day. The others I reared or co-reared with the dogs can't care less as long as they are given their daily dose of stroking.

When dealing with perpetual toddlers one must employ a great deal of patience and understanding. I did realize that the method employed by local actor, Ryan Agoncillo with his wife's adopted child works well with cats and dogs too.

So in case it might work for others out there, struggling to parent cats, dogs, an humans, here are the things we have learned so far:

1. Give them "titles". No need to get fancy: simply calling them babysitters usually works well. In our case, we have the upstairs sitters (the cats) and downstairs sitters (the dogs). They automatically set their own boundaries. All you need think of is to remind them that, because their role is so important, they MUST behave properly.

2. The parent whose attention is not on the human child should spend quality time with the non-human ones. Give them the hugs and cuddles they are accustomed to receiving. And then give them extra hugs and cuddles. A food treat or two helps a lot too.

3. Allow them (heavily guarded) time with the human child. Let them sniff the feet--the safest end of a defenseless infant for them to inspect. Then gently remind them the baby is too small or young for them to do more than just that. A tap on the nose is enough to ward off attempts to sniff higher.

4. Give them privileges. Yuki, for example, always has time alone with me when I am about to bathe. I call her to join me I the bathroom and we spend five minutes just tossing around her empty toilet paper roll.

These pets ask for so little that I would not feel any ounce of remorse should I shame a parent to two- and four-legged children for neglecting one for the other. As it is, I already feel guilt for my inability to give them as much time as I'd like. But they seem to understand and are coping because they have a very important secret weapon:

They know they are loved and wanted. No matter what.

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