Bowie & Friends

Ep.10 Paw Wow with Tara O’Connell, Founder of The Diary Apps

Balancing the demands of a busy life is not an easy task. Good news is that our pets can help us achieve a good life balance and in return, be happier themselves! Having a pet can enhance our social life, promote exercise, reduce stress and take the focus away from our day-to-day life issues. The more we spend time with our pet, the more relaxed we are, and the happier they are!

Meet Tara O’Connell, founder of The Baby Diaries and The Pet Diaries Apps. The Pet Diaries App is a free app that helps busy pet parents stay organised and on track with their pets’ well-being so they can just focus on spending quality time with their fur-babies.

Being a working mum to four boys (two to the human kind and two to the furry kind), Tara has ‘what-you-call’ a full life. Here, she shares with us her secret and tips to a good life balance and happy pets.

What is your secret to a good life balance and happy pets?

Working from a home office means that my lunch breaks can be dog walking opportunities! I have Barney and Bentley in the office with me every day, so I know they have company, and their company also improves my own mood and efficiency.

Why is it important to keep pets happy?

We’ve all heard the term ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’ but I think this concept extends to pets as well… ‘Happy Pet-Parent, Happy Pet’ and it also goes the other way. Seeing my dogs smile or do funny little things like ‘making their bed’ brings a smile to my face every time, and I watch the laughter and joy that the dogs bring to my sons, Alex and Jacob’s life as well. It’s easy to see when a pet is happy… and that truly makes my heart sing.

What are your top tips to keep pets happy and healthy?

We know it’s important to have happy healthy pets… but I believe keeping pets healthy can also improve our own health and well-being. It’s a win-win for the whole family. For example, knowing we need to walk our dogs each day actually gets us off the couch and outside walking. It’s also a great way for the family to get outdoors together – it could be a trip to the park, exploring local bushwalks, or heading to the dog-beach for some fun.

Making sure we never forget things like when our pet’s vaccinations, flea, tick and worm medications, or other medications are due is essential. A simple reminder notice from something like The Pet Diaries App can help busy pet owners to keep track, and ensure our fur-babies are never at risk of life-threatening disease like heart worm.

It’s also important to keep our pet’s allergies top of mind (pet allergies are more common than many people think). And of course if we have people pet-sitting for us, we need to make sure they’re aware of our pet’s healthcare needs while also providing the right amount of food and exercise in our absence, and again, this is one of the reasons I created The Pet Diaries App – so that everyone in the pet’s life can stay up-to-date in real time.

Many pet owners can go overboard to make their pets ‘happy’ as they often project their ‘own’ concept of happiness – What’s your take on that?

It’s so interesting to watch the ‘humanisation’ of our pets over the past 10–15 years. Just looking down the dedicated pet aisles of KMart can show what an important, loved family member our pets are. Personally I love really getting to know pets – watching their face to see their emotions. Seeing how they interact with other animals, and people. I love seeing dogs smile. If going overboard to make your pet happy makes you happy… then why not! I’m all for win-win outcomes like that!

How do you measure happiness from one pet scenario to the other? (eg. my dog stays at home most of the time vs my dog goes everywhere with me)

That’s a great question. I know some pets who love constant attention, and others who quite like their personal space – a bit like humans. So getting to know our pets is an essential part of the process, and as their carers we’re in the best position to know what our pets love, tolerate, or really dislike. If your pet is happy and healthy then you’re doing a great job!

Thanks Tara for the Paw Wow! To find out more about The Pet Diaries App, go here.