Filling our Spirit Tanks
Growing up we had all kinds of animals. I distinctly remember my kitten Flowers was my constant companion for the two years before my little sister was born. I was too young to feed and care for Flowers, but I loved her dearly. Times and circumstances changed after that, until elementary school came around and we started bringing rodents into the house; mice and hamsters and eventually guinea pigs and bunnies. It was the first time I can remember being responsible for another life (even though my mom would always clean the cages). We moved into a house from our little apartment when my sister and I were in middle school and that Christmas we were gifted a German Shepherd named Heidi, and in high school we welcomed Kayla, a Golden Retriever into our lives. Each of these animals helped to grow and shape the empathy and love in my heart, for animals and people alike. I’m sure they each in their own way helped to inspire my devotion to vegetarianism beginning in the 10th grade.
I couldn’t wait to adopt a puppy for my own children. The memories and experiences I had as a child ranged from humorous (the time Heidi knocked down the Christmas tree just to eat all of the candy canes), to fun and loving (basically all the time), to the very basic feelings of comfort and safety that a canine companion brings. Justin and I wanted all of those things for our children to add to their lifetime of memories, and our story of Theo’s adoption begins to tell that story exactly how we had hoped. Theo is very special; for reasons unknown to us, he is incredibly smart, loving, thoughtful and supportive, but with those things in abundance he also very clearly feels other things enormously, too. Theo is a fairly anxious guy. He gets nervous in new situations, around new people and especially when the tone in our voices changes. If the kids or Justin and I quarrel, Theo heads for Beau’s bed and stays there until he senses calm again. It doesn’t really matter why he is the way he is, but we suspect his experience as an abandoned puppy or time in the shelter and in transition formed this extra special side to him and we’re all learning how to modify our behavior positively because of it.
In the past nearly two years since Theo came into our family, we have all grown and our family has changed, we’ve moved homes and welcomed Evvie into our lives. Theo, remarkably, has always been very eager to please and rarely troublesome. He’s never gone through a naughty puppy phase of tearing anything up, and he doesn’t do things that he knows will upset us (like being rowdy indoors or stealing food from the kids). He wants to be near us always, playing fetch or tug-of-war with his ropes and rubber toys or napping of course. As much as we as parents wanted to teach our children about caring for pets with the love and empathy that come with it, Theo has taught us so much more of those things than we could have ever imagined. Caring for him in the very best way means being thoughtful of his feelings, careful about things that make him nervous, feeding him things he likes to eat at the same time of day, and most of all playing with him.
There is one thing that makes Theo the very happiest of all, and that is taking him to run and play on the beach in Santa Cruz at one of the off-leash beaches. There is nothing as fun and fulfilling as watching Theo run his little heart out on the beach and fall asleep tuckered out at night with a big happy grin on his face. Now that we live about 25 minutes from Santa Cruz it’s a bit more of an effort to get over there, but we certainly make the time on the weekends when we can because it’s good for all of us, and even the kids can feel the freedom coursing through their veins in a perfect mixture of adrenaline, salty air and laughter from chasing each other on the sand and dancing in the wind. A large part of caring for our pets and ourselves is based on healthy activities and a nutritious diet, and maintaining that for all of my babies including pets is of the utmost importance to me. I’ve partnered with MARS Petcare, a brand whose facilities I’ve personally visited and researched and all of the product lines that fall under their umbrella, and have concluded that they live up to their mission , “A Better World for Pets.” They’re focused on sustainability and responsible sourcing, while focusing on nutritional value and ingredients in their dog and cat foods. I am passionate about feeding my family in those ways, and incorporating those philosophies into our pet food is equally as important to me. MARS Petcare US is focused on ensuring pets live a better life, and their teams are made up of scientists, nutritionists and veterinarians (I personally watched one of their vets eat the Nutro dog food herself).
Of all the things that we do to care for ourselves and our family, making sure that our spirit tanks are filled is one of the surest ways to keep us happy and healthy. That equation is just as reliant on Theo as it is the rest of us, as he is often the safe spot that we retreat to when the complications of life get the best of us. Of all of the experiences that shaped me as a person and a parent, raising pets has been on of the most educational and transformative for me, and I can see the same happening with my children as they grow up with Theo and Charlie, our cat. I couldn’t be more proud of that as their parent.
This post was sponsored by MARS Petcare, who is committed to “a better world for pets”.