The dictionary defines complacency as “a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of, or unconcerned with, unpleasant realities or harmful possibilities; self-satisfaction; smugness.” * I’ve always thought of it not so much as being unaware of those dangers or unpleasant realities, but being comfortable that you have them under control. I suppose that could certainly be considered smugness, though when I think of myself as being complacent, especially when it comes to my pets, I think of it more as having put worries out of my mind because the situations have gotten better.
Cricket has arthritis and Luke has luxating patellas. But when both dogs are getting along fine, and doing great, it’s easy to not think so hard about those things. It occurred to me when on a walk one day, as we approached a gentle hill: “hills are really good for strengthening their leg muscles to support their joints better. Walks are important for that same reason. They need to keep moving to keep those joints loose.” I hadn’t really been thinking about those things before we headed out for a walk. We tend to walk because they enjoy it; not because I’m remembering how important it is for them.
It’s habit to include joint supplements in their meals every evening, and to give them fish oil to help their joints and coats. But if I forget why walking is so important, we might skip walks more (especially in the cold weather), and that could become the new habit. That’s the danger in being complacent about how well they are both doing.
I also must remember that Cricket’s play time – chasing the ball – should be limited so she doesn’t overdo it. She gets her carprofen daily to help that, and when she’s doing this well it’s easy to just keep going and then next thing we know she’s limping again. Luke needs to be reminded daily to “use the stairs” when getting off the bed (and he only listens to that half the time). Every time his knee pops out, which isn’t often, I’m reminded of how diligent we need to be. Management is working well for him to avoid surgery so far, but we have to stay on top of things!
If visitors aren’t coming to the house on a regular basis, I become complacent about Luke’s fears and we don’t work on them. It was only the company coming around the holidays that reminded me we still needed to work on his crate. Now that things are quieter, I need to continue to be sure he’s still comfy in there and that he goes in at other times too, not just when people are coming.
It’s so easy to just let things go….to let Luke and Cricket just do whatever they want, as long as they’re doing well. When our cat Sam is eating well, and feeling well, I might forget that we need to watch her weight. The truth is with her, after the scare she gave us with not eating, I’m so happy to see her eat I sometimes forget to control portions. Being overweight isn’t going to benefit her high blood pressure; and she’s had joint issues in the past too.
We experienced the downfalls of complacency with the farm birds as well. It’s easy to forget to be diligent about our protections from predators or keeping everything extra clean in and around the coop so they’ll stay healthy. We had routines and habits in place for predator protection, which I wrote about here (“Keeping the Flock Safe“), but towards the end of fall we had that issue with the suspected hawk (“Safety in Numbers“). When that happened, I realized that a lot of our reflective tape we had around the yard had come down and we had never replaced it. That was the first thing I did, in hopes that really does help keep the predatory wild birds away. We never saw that hawk again.
We’re not outside as much in the winter, and it’s easy to just stay inside and forget that we should still have a presence outside in case the fox shows up again (birds of prey should be migrated by now), or anything else is out there that we don’t even know about. Closed windows drown out sounds that might be a clue that something is going on. When those guinea hens get squawking though, that seems to go right through barriers! Let’s just hope the guineas don’t get complacent! 🙂
So how do we avoid complacency?
- By remembering to be alert, aware, and in tune with our pets and environment.
- By keeping health and safety at the forefront of our minds, even when everyone is doing well.
- Simply being aware that complacency can happen can help us avoid it.
How do you keep from becoming complacent about your pets’ health and welfare?