79.2 million homes in the United States own a pet, the overwhelming majority of which are cats and dogs. What’s even more interesting are some of the data for the United Kingdom that is put out by the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA). This research is carried out on behalf of National Pet Month, which runs from 5th April to 5th May in Great Britain each year. The study provided insight into the pet purchasing trends in the UK, some of which are outlined as follows;
* There are 27 million pets in the UK with dogs and cats being the animal of choice for pet lovers, totalling over 7.3 and 7.2 million across the UK respectively.
* 39% of London’s pet owners purchase their pet for companionship, despite living in the UK’s highest populated city.
* 60% of single people in the UK buy a pet for companionship .¨ 39% of whom have replaced their partner with a pet.
* 39% of London pet owners feel the need for companionship despite having over 7.5 million neighbours across the city.
* 21% of owners bought their pet for companionship, compared to only 5% who have their pet for security.
Do you see a trend here? People buy pets for companionship, even if they are surrounded by 7.5 million people. Why is that? There are a number of reasons for this. One, the way we have been taught to think creates a lot of misunderstanding, non-acceptance, bad feelings, and separation from other humans, especially those we love. We just aren’t that close to each other, no matter how close together we live. We see the differences rather than the similarities and we ridicule the differences we do see rather than accept and honor them.
The problem is that we do the same thing to ourselves. We feel bad about things we can and can’t do, things we should have done or said and what we think we aren’t. We are trained to see lack instead of abundance, so not only do we see it in us, we see it in everyone and everything. This is not a concept that helps us form true bonds or allows us to love ourselves, but we can change this! We can start by realizing that everyone is doing the best they can and allow others to express themselves as they wish. We want the same freedom so why not give it to others? The truth is everyone deserves to be honored, respected and loved.
Next, judgment, anger, guilt, blame, and resentment seem so common in people and relationships these days that we think it is normal to act this way towards others. But, this is the stuff that keeps us from the one thing we want, love. So, we are often left with a relationship that is unsatisfying or we are left alone. It can be different, though. If we remember that love is a way to connect with everyone. We can do this by being kind, grateful, understanding, compassionate and accepting. If we practice this with others, we will find that it is easier to treat ourselves this way, too.
Finally, it is time to expand unconditional love to others besides just our pets. Over the years, I’ve talked to a lot of pet owners at work functions, holiday parties, and during frequent dog park outings with my dogs, Buster and Taylor. With an industry that pulls in almost $53 billion a year in the United States and ¬¨¬£31.5 billion pounds ($50 billion), it is obvious pet owners spare no expense. The one thing I know pet owners can attest to is the unconditional love that is given without reservation from our animals to us, and we give it right back. If you’ve ever had an animal and have shared that deep bond, you will know what I’m talking about. To me, this means that many people understand and even experience the concept of unconditional love. We recognize it in our pets; we just don’t transfer that recognition and sharing of unconditional love to other humans or ourselves. We can transform this by paying attention to it and realizing that everyone is worthy of love without conditions, especially ourselves!
When you look at someone this week and you want to judge them for the way they look or something they said, practice being understanding of their situation. Know that they are doing the best they can and if they are struggling at all, they just need our love. Do the same when you look in the mirror. Love heals everything!