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Loving Our Pets 1
Embracing Our Love for Pets
Ask Aunt Martha Column
Published in Pug Talk Magazine, Jan/Feb 2010

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We'd like to thank all of our readers for their notes on how passionate they feel about
their pets!  Many pet parents feel like some people think their love for their companion
is overly exaggerated.  We thought it would be helpful to validate that love so that it
could be shared and explained to others.  One easy way to describe our passion for
pets is to relate it to the fact that we've Embraced our animal companions, and that by
doing so, we by default have become part of encouraging the humane treatment of
pets everywhere and all over the world.

The Meaning of Embracement
Most of us know the general definition of Embracement simply means a type of
adoption or acceptance of something.  However over time, many terms morph and
evolve and their definitions take on a deeper meaning.  For instance, Roget’s II (1995)
The New Thesaurus, Third Edition describes Embracement as, “A ready taking up of
something, adoption, espousal; to include as part of something broader, to take up
willingly or eagerly: embrace a social cause”.  For one Senior Lecturer at the Anglia
Ruskin Univeristy in Chelmsford UK, Ambra Burls, Embracement has a symbolic
meaning—a social and personal growth process.*

At times some people experience marginalization from society and experience a
general feeling of powerlessness in their world.  There is a process that can reverse this
feeling of unimportance and allow room for growth.  When a person emerges into a
new situation that is influenced by internal and external factors their progress depends
on their personal strengths and opportunities or threats that they encounter on their
journey.*  

People who are encouraged to grow, given the tools for development and who are
supported, coached, trained and who experience social inclusion by those around
them, are likely to experience tremendous personal growth.  Social competence alone
can be a driving force to a person developing a sense of self/place and healthy levels
of self-esteem.  People also benefit by their ability to learn new skills, understand what
responsibility is, how to be accepting, learning to be satisfied and how to be a
companion to another.  These types of social exchanges encourages a thrust of
personal growth and development that can lead a person into Embracement—their
ability to be a part of something broader, willingly and eagerly.*

How Our Pets Lead Us
If we consider all aspects of our social network, we could imagine that our pets play an
enormous role in leading us to Embracing Responsible Pet Ownership.  They support
us, coach us on how to love, train us when to love and always include us in their social
plans.  Their acceptance of us encourages us to be socially competent and we are
more open to talking to strangers and being social if our pets are by our side.  Our pet’s
unconditional acceptance of us gives us a sense of self/place and a very warm and
fuzzy level of self-esteem too.

Love fosters a feeling of commitment and sharing heartfelt kindness and emotions
compels us to want to care for those we love.  By focusing on that loving bond and
nurturing it, we eagerly and willingly adopt and accept or Embrace our pets.

How Our Pets Drive Us To Lead
Because the very nature of Embracement is defined by some as a symbolic process
by which people grow and develop, becoming a Responsible Pet Owner then is a
journey in its self.  With all new experiences, we begin with awkward steps, learn and
then grow.  Embarking on the quest of discovering what our responsibilities are as pet
owners can be done with the aide of supportive coaching and/or training.  Having a Pet
Mentor is one way pet owners can feel that their journey is socially acceptable.  Like
new parents of human babies, it’s natural to reach out to another parent, ask questions,
share experiences and listen to each other’s stories.  The same is true for people who
are hoping to become good pet parents too.  A Pet Mentor can pick up the pieces when
everything seems to have been shoved off the table by a big furry tail.  They can listen
to a new pet parent’s concerns about the four paws that rest on their laps and they can
offer consolation and advice if needed.

These Pet Mentors act as tour guides on this type of developmental journey.  They
make it possible for novice and experienced pet owners to walk tall, learn and grow
into Responsible Pet Owners.  Pet mentors help us Embrace our pet ownership
journey.  They act as role models and guides to understanding that it’s not enough to
own our pets— we need to learn to own the responsibility of our pet’s lives.

We can learn to be Responsible Pet Owners anytime, day or night, early or later in life.  
It’s not when we choose that’s important, it’s our choice that defines us.  And if we define
ourselves as Responsible Pet Owners, then we undeniably take part in something
broader.  We eagerly and willingly are redefining the social cause that protects our pets
and animal companions.  As a collective group, Responsible Pet Owners, set the
model and lead by example because most Responsible Pet Owners have been
fortunate enough to mentor a fellow pet owner.  This good example automatically
applies positive social pressure for the next pet owner in line to step up, walk their path
and travel their journey to learning to be responsible for their pet’s life.  Each time this
happens, one by one, we change and redefine ourselves and our relationships that we
share with our pets.  By doing this, we send the message—It's important to protect the
well-being of animal companions everywhere.

Embrace yourself.  Embrace your past, present or future journey with your pet too!  
Enjoy being a Pet Mentor to someone and enjoy being mentored by another.  We wish
everyone a wonderful start to a new year and hope that this year is full of fun furry
adventures and enlightening and engaging growth between you and your pets!  May
you enjoy Embracing your pets and sharing that joy with others!

Main Sources for this Article:

* www.embracement.org: Senior Lecturer: Anglia Ruskin University – Chelmsford UK,
Ambra Burls R.M.N. , CPN, BSc(Hons), PGCE, MA, TSOLW, MALT, NMC Registered
http://www.embracement.org/english/home_english.htm

**http://www.usaha.
org/committees/aem/presentations2005/StephanieOstrowski_TheHuman-AnimalBond.
ppt


Donald and Sara Hassler are co-authors of the award-winning children’s book,
Loving
Marley
, and reside in Connecticut with Marley and Belle the real-life inspiration for the
PugTale Adventures storybooks
www.lovingmarley.com.  The Hasslers are active
members of the press through the Dog Writers Association of America.  For more
information visit them online at
www.responsiblepetowner.com.


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