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Wed, June 19

Powers: Pets need companionship

Early each morning, about 6:45 a.m., Zuzu and Bailey Wrather have a serious play session: jumping, wrestling, pretend biting, followed by “holding paws” for a nap. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

Early each morning, about 6:45 a.m., Zuzu and Bailey Wrather have a serious play session: jumping, wrestling, pretend biting, followed by “holding paws” for a nap. (Christy Powers/Courtesy)

Our dogs and cats, certainly most animals, just like people, crave and need companionship. It is fascinating to watch how my two guys interact with each other, read each other. If one finds an interesting smell, the other rushes to share it. If one hears a sound, the other is at full attention. And if one finds something wonderful to bark at, the other one barks, not having a clue as to what she is barking at.

With very few exceptions, wild animals live in packs. They communicate with each other and depend on each other in order to find food and stay safe. But primarily, they crave companionship with each other.

Domestic dogs and cats crave that companionship with their own kind. Fortunately, they are most happy to get those warm hugs from a human as well. The perfect world is when there is a four-legged companion and a few loving two-legged buddies in residence.

Separation anxiety is what lots of dogs suffer when their person leaves for the day or for a few hours. Imagine being left alone with basically nothing to do! Having access to a window can provide some entertainment. Particularly here in the woods, they can watch deer, javelina, lizards and people walking by with their dogs. With a doggie door, they would have a little more freedom. But having a buddy would be the best.

The idea of having two dogs in residence is normal for those who always have had more than one. But for those who have always just had one and are considering getting a second, it takes some thought.

It is best to bring any new pet into the household when people are home for a period of time, whether during a vacation or holiday. If possible, it is good to bring dog No. 1 with you for that important first meeting. These dogs need to like each other. If there is going to be a problem, it is usually evident right away. Dogs will have squabbles from time to time just like our children do, but as the two get accustomed to each other and communicate, the bond will build.

The primary problems would come from mealtime and treat time. Both dogs must have their own dish with their own proper portion and be fed at the same time. Place the dishes in different corners of the room and be around to watch that each gets their fair share. My one fast eater is ever hopeful that her brother will wander away from his food and I will not notice her sneaking in to clean his dish.

When dogs that have a companion suddenly find the companion missing, that is very hard, particularly because they do not understand what happened.

Several years ago, my aging boy made that final visit to the vet. I left the house with him and returned without him. Naturally, the other two wondered what happened to their buddy. They were certainly able to realize that he had been slowing down and having other health problems, but to have him just disappear was terribly unfair.

Watching their reaction made me realize how totally unfair it was.

When I had to make that last trip with my other guy, I took Lacy with me. The vet thought I was a bit crazy but I wanted her to know when he was gone. Many vets will come to the house for this event which is wonderful.

We have to appreciate this feeling of loss and try to help with the grieving process. Realizing that your pet is going through the same feeling of loss that you are helps to be able to share that pain.

In the meantime, during the good times, remember that our dogs have feelings too! Companionship is key.

Christy Powers is a freelance writer whose passion is studying and writing about pet health, nutrition and training. She can be reached at


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