One sometimes hears a comment along the lines of “be the kind of person your pet thinks you are” as an appeal for the best of human behavior. I like the thought. Considering the work I do, it’s no surprise that I’ve seen far too many examples of human disregard, neglect and actual cruelty directed at animals, but I don’t think that takes away from the point: those of us who love our animals, who treat them with genuine kindness, often see that reflected back in our animals’ adoring eyes. They loved to be loved, and they love us for loving them, and all of that is part of the deal.

So here we are, only a few days into the New Year, and I’m sure most of us have already broken the standard list of New Year’s Resolutions. We’ve likely eaten too much, had too much to drink, haven’t exercised much at all (especially if you don’t count opening a bottle of wine as exercise), and have already forgotten if we’d committed to learning conversational Italian or how to play the saxophone. Humans are not good at this whole resolution thing, it seems, which leads me to offer up the following instead. Rather than resolving, again, to losing a few inches off our waistlines this year, why don’t we just commit to be the kind of person our pets already think we are. What would that entail…?

Lola (the world’s most perfect pet since, as we all know, this is my column and therefore I get to set the rules) believes that I am to adhere to a few simple commands in order to meet with her approval. First, be generous (it’s not fabulous that my entire day doesn’t revolve around her, but it’s ok so long as our time together is full and giving). Be joyful whenever possible (nobody likes being around a grouch) and work to make that ever more possible (so shut off then damn news and let’s play). Be gentle (humans are big and often too fast and clumsy). Be forgiving (whatever the transgression, they didn’t mean it).

2021: Resolve to be the person your animal already thinks you are. Lola will approve.