What kind of animals are we talkin’ about here? Bears, rhinos, and shit?
No, more like dogs, cats, rabbits, muskrats, beavers. Heck, even monkeys. If we don’t speak for them, who will?- Kevin Smith’s Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back
Over Thanksgiving people tend to reflect on what’s important to them in life. It’s been a tough year for one of the family’s meals I attended so I suggested we take a moment to quickly each affirm something we were thankful for. The usual things of course came up: for family and loved ones, for the memories of those past, for the individual accomplishments, for everyone surviving the storm intact, etc.
I realized with dog under foot I was thankful for something else. Pets.
For as long as I can remember (and then some) I’ve always had animals as companions. Sure, I had people too, it would be infinitely weird to not have, I mean even the Simpson’s Crazy Cat Lady has some human contact!
Actually, there’s a fairly sizable body of literature suggesting responsible pet ownership is mutually beneficial to both owners and animals including studies published or in part funded by PAWS, AARP, SCAS, ASCPA, RSCPA, NYU, Miami University, St. Louis University, Oxford, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Humane Society, National Institutes of Health, the Center for Research, and believe it or not, even PETA.
It is estimated 63% of US Households have at least one domesticated animal as part of the household unit. It wasn’t quite a menagerie but we always had more than one.
Dogs, a cat, hamsters, a bird, lots of fish, turtles, snakes and bugs (…or whatever else might have wandered into the yard) were most of the companions growing up and even today with a rescue dog and some rescued aquarium turtles I maintain that special bond.
Our ASCPA rescued pup, Dex, holds a special place in my heart. There’s something about his quirky personality, his infinite love, his demenor and kinship that reminds me of the Eskie I had growing up. It certainly gives rise to the concepts behind reincarnation sometimes. Anyway, He and I almost immediately bonded when my fiancee and I first started to date and through the years that’s only grown stronger.
Anyone who’s ever had a pet almost certainly has the story about how that animal just inherently knew when they needed their owner needed that extra pick-me-up to brighten a moment. Dex is certainly no different. Every morning his routine itself would be enough as it is the second most brightening occurrence for me every day (betcha can’t guess the first).
I’m lucky to have him in my life for the joy he spreads. From his ability to know you’re chopping his favorite veggies from the other room to the way he can throw his plush toys across the room with substantial accuracy to his excitement in being potty trained and getting it right to his need to cuddle up next to you in the absolutely smallest possible spot available to his adoring love of peanut butter and the crazy rudolph the red nosed reindeer movie eyes he gets when you give him some to his favorite trick: High Five to his distinct inability to walk a straight line (Dex, were you in my bourbon again?!) to his perpetual kissing … and the list goes on.
Every action, every interaction is enjoyable (ok almost every one, pop picking up isn’t ever fun at all!) and he provides so much comfort and affection and a common bond for my fiancee and I as he probably acts as a proxy for a child at this point.
I’m fortunate enough to have had so many amazing pets in my life to provide memories and loving company and help me function better as a human: happier, more relaxed, increasingly aware. They helped teach me responsibility in taking care of them and believe it or not, forgiveness (they put up with me) and love without bounds. The provided positive reinforcement in my life in them just being them. With Dex, I can’t thank my fiancee enough for adopting him in the first place and introducing me to him throughout the early stages of our relationship to have the opportunity to build this bond.
So, for this affirmation the opportunity to have the companionship of pets, particularly one like Dex, is my happy thought. If you are interested in creating your own happy thought, seek out your local Animal Shelter, the ASCPA, SCPAI, the Human Society, Animal League, NSALA, Pet Rescue and many, many others and give a needy animal a loving home. If you can’t, many of the shelters are in need of donations post-Sandy and for their ongoing efforts.