September 24, 2012

On Pets

My two current furry children: Kilo Marie, the vicious
pit-bull, and DoraBelle Kitti, the orphaned fly-killer

Born This Way

For most of my entire life, I have had at least one pet, and sometimes many, many more. There have been rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and mice.  We have even had fish, snakes, and at one time, a hedgehog, but this is pushing the boundaries of the word pet, since petting these animals is difficult, if not impossible. We have had birds, a pot-bellied pig, and many rabbits that called our house home, as well as countless cats and dogs, Sometimes there was a whole pack, and at others just a single non-human family member, but there has always been at least one pet around.

During my early childhood, I had a small dog named Smokey, who was my constant companion, and many times my only true friend. Since then I have had many dogs, of all sizes and shapes, and kittens that have run the gamut from all-black to calico.  As I write this, the two critters in the picture above are both sprawled out asleep, Dora is on her back, paws extended in a full stretch, draped across the arm of the couch, and Kilo is twitching under the blanket on the bed, chasing something in her dreams and snoring like a buzz-saw.

Are they a pain in the butt?  Occasionally, yes.
Would I trade them for anything? Certainly not.

Not For Everyone

Some people are just not pet lovers. Unfortunately this is often true of pet owners as well. The difference, in my mind, is as simple as where your pets sleep. If you, like me, find yourself having to scoot the dog over so there's room for you on the bed, or trying to see TV over the cat that is sleeping on your chest, then you are a pet lover. If instead the dog drives you crazy barking outside at night then either you are merely a pet owner, or you live near one.

Don't get me wrong ... Some people have 'trained' their animals to sleep on the floor or have a special bed for them, and for them, that's fine, but for me, my animals are a part of my family, and they have always been welcome to sleep with me (although Miss Kilo is REALLY spoiled, since she has to be under the covers as well.)

Other people don't have pets, for one reason or another. I feel sorry for them. I mean, their houses are probably much cleaner than mine, they probably never have to change clothes because of the hair that is stuck to them, and they don't have the responsibility of making sure that their four-legged friends have food, water and medical care ... but they are also missing out. They will never know the unconditional love that your dog has for you when you come home tired and sore, or the warmth and joy that your cat gives you, kneading and purring like there's no better place in the world to be than in your lap.

Think Before You Bring It Home

Being a pet lover, and having children who also love pets, can be challenging. My kids brought to our door many animals that they just happened to 'find' on their way home, and more often than not we kept these strays. The problem is, dogs and cats are much worse than children; I mean, kids eventually learn to feed themselves, and once they are potty-trained, you don't have to worry too much about cleaning up their poop. Animals on the other hand, offer you the life-long responsibility of cycling food through them - both the input and the output are yours to be in charge of ... forever.

The one thing that everyone with pets should seriously consider, is spaying or neutering your buddies. I know that some people breed their animals intentionally, and purebred babies are worth a lot of money, but there are so many unwanted puppies and kittens out there, that for most people, preventing accidental litters should be a big priority. I know, I have had to find homes for a large number of these myself, and having my animals fixed is just one less thing to complicate their lives, and mine.

Hint: If you do have little ones to find homes for, please try your hardest to see that they will be loved and cared for. A small re-homing fee is a good way to help with this. People who pay for a new pet are much more likely to care for it than those who are just given one.

The Best Breeds

Everyone who has pets, or has ever had them, will have their own favorite breed. For me, I have never owned a smarter or gentler dog than a black lab (or lab/basset mix), but in the end, it doesn't really matter. Any dog, raised with affection, exercise and a good diet will shower you with love, and any cat who has stimulation, attention and good food, will still ignore you when it strikes their fancy, but either way, they will enrich your life.

So if you don't like animals, then maybe you should re-think plans to come to my place. My animals live here, and are part of my family. If you DO visit, make sure you check for pet hair before you sit down, and don't expect to escape without doggy and/or kitty kisses being bestowed upon you. 

You have been given this warning,

From Grandpa's Heart ...

1 comment:

  1. Exactly. :)
    I chuckled when I read "the pig". That one had to have caused the biggest re-construction of your home, e-v-e-r! lol!