“Oh, he’s adorable. Do you mind if I pet him?” I’ve witnessed this conversation several times – walking through my neighborhood, sitting on a patio at a restaurant and dining with friends in their homes.
Pets are connectors; strangers and friends love to make a beloved dog or cat the centerpiece of a conversation. By the time the chat is over, I’ve seen people exchange phone numbers or emails based on a single meeting. It isn’t surprising to hear studies show pet ownership is one of the factors in developing connected and healthy neighborhoods.
Here are 5 ways pets help us interact and connect with our neighbors:
1. Walking your dog at various times of the day offers a chance to connect with different neighbors. Taking your dog out for its regular stroll is the perfect chance to intersect with a new neighbor. You may run into a fellow pet owner and exchange smiles or hellos. And if you pause with your dog, a conversation might occur. Pet ownership makes talking with a variety of neighbors a likely occurrence, which then opens the door for a possible friendship.
2. Establish a directory of pet sitters in your neighborhood for those who are interested. Pets offer a gateway to build community. If you aren’t interested in boarding your dog or cat at a local kennel, rely on a pet-loving neighbor to watch your beloved family member. Creating a directory of neighborhood pet sitters will help to build relationships centered on a common interest and assists in establishing trust with people who live in your area.
3. A dog-loving neighborhood promotes the probability of building a park so people and pets can mingle. Does your neighborhood have a dog park? Dog owners love to find a place where they can let their pets feel some freedom without worrying about oncoming traffic or other distractions. Having a common area where people can mingle with their pets will definitely lead to possibilities of meeting later, a coffee date or an impromptu neighborhood potluck.
4. Lost pets can galvanize neighborhoods and build unexpected connections. We’ve all seen the posters of missing pets and the pleas to help find them. A pet crisis can bond neighbors to look for a dog or cat. This kind of camaraderie helps to pave the way for future connections and a willingness to help those in the neighborhood. It’s an extension of goodwill toward your community.
5. Having pets helps to keep a watchful eye on your neighborhood. People like to feel safe in their neighborhoods and always welcome deterrents to ward away the possibility of criminal activity. When you are walking your dog or out and about in your neighborhood, you may notice suspicious activity. You may be prompted to call your local police or neighborhood watch program to report it. Keeping a watchful eye on your neighbors and their property is a great way to show that you care about the overall health of your community.
Pet ownership has definite advantages and unexpected good surprises. Your pet may help pave the way for a lifelong connection with people in your neighborhood.