All pet-obsessed people have commonalities between them that seem completely normal from their perspective – but “weird” or even “creepy” to other people who don’t understand. While it is definitely possible for a pet owner to go a little overboard with their love of animals, the tendencies on this list are not as strange or extreme as some people think:
- Talking to Your Pets – It is a natural reaction for a loving pet owner to communicate with their pet as if they are communicating with any other living being – and that usually involves talking! People may think it’s odd for someone to speak to their pet, claiming “They don’t understand what you’re saying!” or “You’re crazy for thinking they know what you’re talking about!” which I think isn’t fair. Sure, your pet may not understand word-for-word what you are saying, because it doesn’t have the capacity to speak or understand language and semantics as we do. But, it is a common misconception that they don’t understand anything that we are saying – they actually can pick up many words (in any language) if you use them often enough! Obviously if you train your dog to understand certain commands like “sit,” “stay,” and “come,” then they will know those words, so what makes it “impossible” for them to understand other words you use? Especially regarding routine things, like “lunch” or “dinner” or “food” or “potty break” or “sleepy time” – even without specifically training your pet to understand this, they will begin to associate certain activities with the labels that you are giving them! Furthermore, even when an animal doesn’t understand what you are saying necessarily, they still can understand the tone and attitude that you are using when communicating with them. So, if you enjoy talking lovingly to your animal, they will understand that you are speaking with love! Not to mention, talking to your animal is a good release for you as a human, who has many different worries, anxieties, and issues that you need a listening ear for. It’s better than talking to yourself, right?
- Dressing Up Your Pets – A lot of people – pet owners and non-pet-owners alike – judge other owners who dress up their pets in clothing. I will concede that sometimes it can be a bit obnoxious, especially if the owner is spending more money on the pet’s clothing than their own wardrobe. Most people find dressing up pets absurd because the animal has its own coat of fur, therefore meaning that it is already warm enough without needing to be dressed up. This couldn’t be more inaccurate, because a majority of dogs actually DO get quite cold, and require some sort of covering – whether it’s a simple sweater or a bedazzled shirt. Many small dogs and dogs with very short fur need an extra layer to keep them from constantly shivering! Especially dogs who have hair loss issues like alopecia, require a layer to cover their exposed skin. Some dogs behave better with clothing on them, because it has an effect similar to a Thundershirt, which calms a stressed out dog or cat by surrounding them with a warm and snug layer that reduces anxiety. Just by the animal not being “exposed,” they feel at ease, since there is literally a barrier between them and their surroundings. Also, it is a common thing for dogs to actually just prefer to wear clothes because it makes them feel special and/or happy! I have found personally that if some of my dogs are wearing clothes and some aren’t, the dogs not wearing clothes usually feel jealous and are visibly sad that they are left out of the “dress up” games. Cats are usually not as willing to wear clothing, but dogs for sure seem to have a penchant for being stylish, so why deny them of this?
- Sharing Drinks and Food With Pets – Perhaps it’s the fact that many pet owners treat their furry companions as their own children, but it has been a common phenomenon for humans to share their plates of food with their pets and also let them drink out of their glasses of water. I personally am guilty of this, so I don’t think it’s weird at all – but others think it’s disgusting. My dad, for instance, grimaces and audibly says “EWWW, GROSS,” when he sees my dog drink out of my glass of water. A lot of people share his sentiment, saying that dogs, cats, and other pets have bacteria-filled mouths from licking and eating a lot of nauseatingly nasty things. While this is true to an extent, seeing as a lot of pets eat their own poop, lick their own butts, and lick other animals’ butts and poop as well, the real question is – is any of this grossness actually transferring to our food and drink that we share with our pet? The short answer is POSSIBLY, but here’s a more detailed answer by someone on an answer-sharing site: “For the most part, there aren’t many zoonotic diseases that can transfer from cats to humans -but, there are some infections that can be transmitted from the cat/dog/pet to you through shared sources, notably protozoal infections. These are basically single-celled organisms that can cause severe diarrhea in both humans and cats and are normally contracted from the same sources (e.g. tainted water). However, depending on the cat and its habits they may be drinking water you are not, such as toilet water, and so it’s possible that it taints your water via transfer.” So basically if you know where your dog’s mouth has been, you don’t really have to worry all that much. Besides, I have let my dogs and cats (and even pet rats in the past) share my food and drink, and I’ve never gotten sick (knock on wood).
- Letting Pets Lick Your Face and/or Mouth – This goes along with number 3 in the sense that it is your pet’s mouth/saliva/tongue coming in contact with yours, but in a much more specific and direct way. Is it gross to a lot of people? Yes. Do they have a reason to be grossed out? Well, along the lines of the answer from the previous talking point, the chance of your pet transferring a zoonotic disease to you is extremely rare, while spreading a bacteria or other single-celled organism is more probable. That being said, it is pretty seldom for animals to transfer such bacterium to humans, unless they lick your mouth literally right after they came in contact with a bacteria or “germ” of some sort. There are worst-case-scenario type situations where your dog’s mouth (or any other type of pet’s mouth) can possibly be harmful, but if you have a pretty good idea of what kind of mouth mischief your pet has been into, you will know if it has come in contact with something harmful or not. According to this article, tapeworms (and parasites in general) and food poisoning are really rare, but possible – BUT, only if your pet has licked or even eaten a dead animal. Now, THAT is just disgusting, and I would definitely not let my dog or cat kiss me after they tongued a dead animal’s corpse. As long as your pet hasn’t feasted upon a carcass of a dead creature, you should be alright!
Basically, all of these things that are perceived as “weird” or even “crazy” to some people, are pretty normal-seeming for pet lovers. Many of the thoughts and opinions attached to these pet-obsessed tendencies are merely judgmental stereotypes that are actually pretty inaccurate. So the next time you are quick to call an extreme animal-lover “strange” or “nuts” for embracing their pet in a way that you find “odd,” consider that you may just not understand the loving relationship they have towards their companion.