There is Joy in Pet Ownership, but Please Adopt, Don’t Shop

For millions of us, they are part of the family.  They are our babies or our siblings.  We include them in family portraits, post about them on Facebook, sometimes travel with them, and typically spoil them rotten.  Our pets mean so much to us.

If you have never had a pet, you might not understand the fascination.  You have no idea what you are missing.  Our pets reward us with humor, companionship, and unbridled devotion (drool sometimes lovingly included).  Sure, pets are a lot of work and expense, and they require a lengthy time commitment, but they give so much in return.

In my life, I have never been without a pet.  Sometimes I have had up to eight at a time.  I’ve had cats, dogs, bunnies, and horses.  Each one has had a unique personality and brought me tremendous joy.

I swear to their intelligence and know my pets understand everything I say to them.  My dog knows our routine and will come stand by the bed when it is time to get up.  One of my rabbits, Tabitha, also knew what time I needed to get up, only her wake up calls were tinged with a dark humor.  She would hop into my bed and run circles around me; however, if five minutes of that didn’t do the trick, she would pounce on me and pee.  That wasn’t exactly the most desirable wake-up call, but it certainly was effective.  Once up, I was usually then forced to crawl under my bed to retrieve the slippers she had stolen during the night.  If bunnies could laugh, I’m sure she would have been in hysterics as she watched her human do such tricks.  

In addition, my animals have always shown me compassion.  As a kid, I would whisper all of my secrets into the ear of my sister’s horse, Rowdy, while he rested his head on my shoulder.  He would occasionally nod his head or flare his nostrils and breathe into my ear as though he was commiserating with me and giving his own brand of advice.  As an adult, I would often come home from work disgruntled over the workload or the students who refused to participate or a variety of other stresses.  It was mandatory on those days to consult my therapist (my bunny, Adam) the instant I got home.  She would coax me onto the floor and we would lie cheek to cheek while she soothed the wild beast within me.  Five minutes of that and my good mood was restored.  If it wasn’t for my therapy sessions, I would have never survived my teaching career and my family would not have been able to tolerate me during that time.

I won’t go so far as to say that every human should have a pet because some simply aren’t capable of returning such love and devotion.  Sadly, there are some miserable excuses for humanity out there who would (and do) abuse the trust of both humans and animals.  However, I believe that the vast majority of people should have at least one pet, and there are so many animals looking for a home where they can impart all of their wisdom and offer unconditional love.  The trick is to find a good match.  Spend some time with a prospective pet and introduce him or her to all the members of your family (both two and four-legged) to ensure the adjustment will be smooth on all fronts.  If you aren’t 100% sure if you are ready for a long-term commitment, consider fostering before adopting.  Fosters are usually provided with food and supplies, and sometimes rescues will even enroll you and the animal in a training class to aid in the transition. There are many small shelters looking for foster families for a variety of reasons.  Many animals have difficulty adjusting to a shelter environment, some need a quiet place to recover from medical treatment, and some who were once simply yard ornaments need to ease into living in a home environment.  Shelters do a great job of interviewing prospective fosters to learn habits and routines and then place an animal which is a good fit.  You may not know what you are looking for in a pet, but the shelter staff usually knows what they are looking for in a foster and can help you find the perfect match.  This is just one more reason to foster or adopt rather than purchasing from a pet store or breeder.  Where the store/breeder is out to make a quick buck, the shelter or rescue wants to find the right home and family for every pet in its care.

So maybe this blog has turned into a “public service announcement”, but that is simply because I want everyone to find the simple joy I have known all of my life: the unconditional love and affection of a pet.  Take my word for it; there is nothing like it, and I know my life would be incomplete without it.

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