LOVE YOUR PET

Each person may have a different definition of the word “pet”.  The Webster dictionary defines the term as “a domesticated animal kept for pleasure rather than utility”. Many people have the discussion on a horse being considered as a pet, or companion animal, or livestock specie like cattle, pigs, and sheep are thought of.  To me, a pet can be considered as any animal that you may have a personal bond or connection with, and not just the typical cats and dogs.

Growing up with a farm background, I was introduced to a whole different environment. I showed animals at various fairs, and raised them as well. The very first animal I ever owned, I had that special connection with it. The more years I put in to working with the animals, the closer the connection got. I remember the first time we had sows farrowing, or cows calving (process of giving birth to their young), I was so excited about it and would spend hours out in the barn to see the little ones! The first calf that my cow had, I had a halter on her in less than a week to walk her around and have her used to being around me. I have always told people that my animals are like my babies, always tame and always partial to only wanting to be around me.

cattle, show, fair, illinois farm girlThe picture to the right is me with one of my heifers at our last show of the summer. She and I definitely had our ups and downs in getting halter broke (being able to lead on a halter) and getting ready for the show season. I would walk her every day around the pasture to get her used to walking on a halter and walking with me, and she would be washed every day as well to keep her cool and clean.  As you could probably see though, we ended up getting along pretty well in the end.

I have heard many other people tell similar stories like my own with their personal connections with their animals. Many producers treat their animals with respect and can be seen as their pets too. I’m sure many of you watched the super bowl this year, along with all the new commercials as well. The Budweiser commercial with the Clydesdales, titled “Brotherhood” was one of my personal favorites, and really showed how producers truly can view their animals as pets. The horse and the owner have a connection since it was a little colt (a young male horse) and kept that connection as the horse grew and got older, to even after he left on the Budweiser trailer, the horse still recognized him when he saw him.

Naomi CooperNaomi Cooper
University of Illinois

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