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We all love animals, don’t we? Whether it’s dogs, cats, hedgehogs, pigs, reptiles, birds, or hamsters. There are some excellent animal companions to have if you can provide a great home and lots of love. They cheer us up when we’ve had a bad day, they are awesome workout partners, and they motivate us to care for something other than ourselves.

Animals of all sorts need good homes and need our care. Here are ten steps to help you become the ultimate animal lover. I’d bet, once you adopt these easy steps, your friends will come to you for advice on how to make their animal as happy as you’ve made yours without having to consult a search engine. Read through, and maybe try a few of these steps to see if it makes a difference in your animal’s life.

Step 1: Become an early riser

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Mornings can be hectic, especially during the week when the alarm just doesn’t seem to ring, work is in an hour, your hair looks like a bird’s nest, there’s no time for your workout, etc. Try altering your morning routine to include some quality time with your animal. Think about it, once you leave for work, they’re alone all day until you come home. Show ‘em some love and play bright and early, run with your dog so you both get a workout, feed them, and spend some time petting them so when you’re gone for a third of the day, they know that you love them, too.

Step 2: Make sure your bed is big enough for a plus one

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You can go through the conventional methods of picking out a specific bed for your animal, letting them get used to it, washing it constantly, picking up the fluff all over the floor because they don’t like it, or, you can make sure your bed can hold more than you. Chances are, your animal will want to sleep near you at night. Make sure there’s enough room for them, too! It’s snuggle time!

Step 3: Buy some good sun block for all of the outdoor adventures

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There are so many things to do outside with your pet. Keeping them cooped up all day is kind of sad. Instead of containing them to a tiny apartment, take them out on the town! Dog parks, car rides, adventures in the sun! All of the new smells will drive them crazy. Plus, it’s a great way to meet new friends both in “person” and for Facebook (see Step 5).

Step 4: Talk about your pet like your friends talk about their babies

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Congratulations to all of you who have kids. Do you know how much you talk about them? We (those who are childless) do. Instead of sharing some anecdote about a child you don’t (or do) have, recount the tale about how your teacup pig started chasing your cat all over your bedroom. It was the cutest thing ever.

Step 5: Make a Facebook for your pet

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Walking your pet down the street is an eye-opener. This little guy/gal knows everyone! People wander over and say hi, give him/her a quick belly rub, tell him/her that they’re adorable…why not get your pet its own Facebook page to connect them to the community they walk through every day? I’m sure Brenda down at the market would be their friend. One down, millions to friend request.

Step 6: Cancel plans with friends because your usual company is sick

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“No, I’m sorry, I won’t be able to make it tonight. My animal is sick and I need to take care of him.” How many times has this happened to you? Last minute plans will go by the wayside the moment your little friend isn’t feeling well. Yes, we’ll snuggle. Yes, I’ll get your favorite food. Yes, we can watch Pretty Woman until you feel better. “Sorry amigos, but my animal comes first. Catch up with ya next time!”

Step 7: Have a formal introduction between your significant other and your pet

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Romantic interests come and go, but your animal’s love is forever. You treat each other right, never judge for actions, lightly bat hands, and snuggle. If your animal companion approves of the new interest, maybe it’s a sign. After all, would you honestly date someone who isn’t fond of your feathered, furry, or scaled companion?

Step 8: Spend way too much money on your pet’s needs

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There will come a day when you realize that your animals grooming costs outweigh your own, that your animal has more toys and activities than a toddler who’s been spoiled rotten, and that while money’s been tight and you’ve been rationing potatoes, your animal is chowing down on some delicious home-made grub. What does it really matter though, it’s just money and your animal’s love is forever. Treat ‘em to something nice.

Step 9: Don’t hold a grudge when something gets destroyed

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Things with animals are bound to get a bit messy, although sometimes, it feels like Godzilla has come through your room and torn things to shreds and left little presents on your floor, pillow, bed, and in your shoe. Things happen. There’s no need to go over the top and get too upset. Maybe your companion needs a few more toys. See Step 8.

Step 10: Adopt them all!!!

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No one is saying that you should become a hoarder, but if you have the ability to offer a home to a pet at a local shelter, why not do it? It’s also a great way to teach kids responsibility and give them something to do other than play video games all day. Maybe they’ll even *gasp* go outside! Make sure you keep an eye on the situation and monitor that the animal is being well taken care of. Not to mention the benefits animals have when they finally have another friend to play with while you’re at work. Why not save an animal today?

Image source: Sunny Ripert / Flickr