There is a universal force that unites all successful and happy business professionals: a love of animals. Some people like dogs, others like cats, but everybody likes animals except for a few cranky people in the office.
In fact, I can go through my career and identify a half-dozen miserable people. They had delusions of grandeur and anxiety. None of them had animals. Not one.
I worked with a woman who was all about her family. I knew she was all about her family because all she did was tell me, hey, my family comes first. You know the type. But she was also one of those super-moms who told everybody that she worked by “choice” because she felt especially fulfilled by her job in human resources.
She used that language IN HUMAN RESOURCES. Whatever, I still can’t wrap my head around that.
So while she loved being a mom and being a VP of HR, she was a miserable human being who never missed an opportunity to stab a colleague in the back. Or in the face. Or the arm.
One day, this woman happened to overhear a conversation that I was having about my cat, Lucy. Now let me tell you about Miss Lucy. She was the spruce goose of all cats. She was the apple of my eye, the cream of my wheat and the honey bunches of my oats.
My conversation about Lucy was an opportunity for this HR lady to knock me down. I happened to have a few pictures of Lucy in my office, and she sprang at the opportunity to jump into my conversation and lecture me on how childish and immature I looked with photos of my cats all over my office.
And my first instinct was like — who asked you?
But I was so shocked that I said, “I’m sorry?”
So she repeated it. All of it. Guess what? In version two, I still looked like a moron with all of my cat photos.
I was just like — how is this my life? Working in HR with this witch? How much harder do I have to work to pay off these student loans? Should I let this woman kick me in the face, too?
And it should come as no shock that the mean HR lady didn’t have any animals in her house. Not a guinea pig. Not a betta fish. Not a goddamn dust bunny. No animals. None.
So all of this is just to say that people who love animals are great and happy. Everybody else will just bring you down. Especially if they are HR ladies without cats or dogs.
But I Don’t Like Pets
Not wanting to have the responsibility of having a pet isn’t the same as hating animals, and sometimes it has everything to do with someone’s past experience and even trauma. We will get into the latter a bit later.
People prioritize things differently. It is what makes us all unique. People exist in this world who find no joy in caring for an animal that will never hold a conversation with them. Why pressure someone that thinks all pets are dirty, annoying and too much work to get one? No one wants to put some puppy into that sort of toxic relationship.
So, when you’re dealing with someone who cringes at social media cat photos or rolls their eyes at a funny office story about how your newest puppy sleeps upside down, they aren’t cold-hearted or weird — OK, maybe a little weird. But that’s not the point. Think about giving them a pass. Animal-keeping is just not for them.
Understanding the Psychology of People Who Don’t Like Animals
OK, circling back to the past life experiences that turn some people into pet-haters. You aren’t going to know everything about a co-worker, nor should you. I don’t want people to know my business.
If someone was bitten by a dog as a kid, it makes sense that they are anti-dog. The cat haters make less sense, but I guess scratches can hurt. Injuries are trauma, and seeing a pet in the wild will downright startle some people.
Misinformation is a huge problem, even in the animal-sphere. Pets carry diseases: Mostly false. Pets give you worms: With rare exception, untrue. Exposure to pets causes allergies: Could be true, but mostly false since allergies are caused by your body’s antihistamine response, not the animal itself. But if we’ve learned anything from COVID, correcting misinformation to someone’s face will only make them double down and make you double angry.
It isn’t your place to try to convince someone to like pets, much less your pet. It can bring up some not-great things. So, just don’t bring it up.
How Pets Improve Our Lives
If you are on the fence about pets, let me try to convince you by telling you how pets improve our lives. Those of you that hate them will probably always hate them. And for those of us that think Miss Lucy was the greatest cat ever, then you’re right.
Some people are more likely to go for walks when they have a dog companion to walk with them. It makes sense. Having pets makes you healthier overall.
They reduce stress, which lowers blood pressure. And, if you work in HR, you need all the help you can get. Pets make us less lonely. Pets make us happy and tolerable for humans because they are the best companions you can have.
I realize that pets aren’t for everyone. I just don’t get it, though.