“’I never knew I could feel like this! I feel like I’m going to start crying because this feels so good.’ These are the words that a young lady said to me as she hugged my dog for the first time. We were visiting a group of ‘at risk’ youth when Chip made a special connection with this young lady. She kept hugging Chip and didn’t want to leave. She was overwhelmed with JOY as she hugged my large, white German Shepherd dog and said that she felt so SAFE with him. As I was packing up to leave the facility, one of the staff members told me that this was the first time they ever saw her smile. She had been in a depression for months, which was compounded by the impact of COVID-19. The staff expressed to me just how special our visit was that night and that we truly made a difference in this young girl’s life!” This is the tale my friend Michelle Robinson of Summit Therapy related to me to explain why she loves her dogs. Wow! She has other stories about youngsters who never speak, but actually talk to her dogs or children who are afraid of everything, but nothing scares them when they have one of Michelle’s German Shepherds with her. She said they can only express love and gratitude for these animals.
There is a whole mixture of animals who live in our hearts. My friend Dani not only has her own pets, but she also fosters young puppies and kittens for several animal rescues including Totherescueinc.org. “For me, animals are home. They are the eyes into our own souls; the things about us that we don’t let others see (or only a select few) or don’t yet know about ourselves. There’s this sort of bond between an animal and his/her family/forever home – it says I get you; I accept you. You’re home; you’re safe; you’re loved. Even with my fosters, they still recognize me even after finding their forever homes as their first safe home. My heart goes out to animals, strays, rescues, etc. And I want to save them all. They all deserve as much and more love than what they have shown. If I’ve had a bad day, a cuddle with my dogs and my fosters makes everything right again.”
My friend Kath (from England) has a very unique take on enjoying her pets. Her family has a variety of critters from rabbits to the reptilian types, but the one foster they cared for became a furever member of her family. She kindly sent me a very nice photo of a seemingly happy and much-loved six-month-old Syrian hamster named Narla the Destroyer. Kath explains the tender loving care both given and received while fostering her for a local animal rescue. “We love her because even though she chews through everything, we still give her lots of toys and spend £££ on the best enclosures and food. She loves a cuddle and never gossips when I tell her a secret.” What more can one ask of a loving snuggle?
Loving and being loved appears very important to people who are owned by cats. “The cats are wonderful companions, of course,” my friend Ellen explains. “Their need to be cared for helps give purpose to my days, and they keep me warm in cold drafts. They also amuse me with their antics. As to why to have more than one, my ex used to say, ‘One cat works on the house. Two cats work on each other.’ They keep each other amused (mostly without bloodshed), and take care of stray rodents, bugs, and invading cats. And I think dogs can also help keep you warm; you know the expression ‘three-dog night.’” Living with a cat can also provide kinship for everyone in the household. “What’s so great about my cats is that they are very intuitive to my feelings,” my friend Sue relates. “If I’m crying or upset, like after I have had a tooth pulled, both of them looked at me, then jumped on my lap while I was in my chair. They stayed there for hours while I got back to ‘normal’ from the heavy-duty Novocain. They’ve done things like that more than once. I think it’s amazing how they can figure me out.”
My friend Howard is owned by the cutest little and most well-traveled dachshund who captures the hearts of everyone who knows him. “Levi brightens my day every morning,” explains Howard. “When I worked away from home, he was always happy to see me when I got home. Now I take comfort knowing he’s behind my office chair or taking a little siesta in his downstairs bed. And, yes, he has an upstairs and a downstairs bed. He usually chooses. He also loves road trips – by car and plane.”
My cousin Ted and his wife Pam have been owned by many pets over the years including turtles who exhibit real personalities. However, Ted explains, “Our favorite was our dog. She was our dog, and we were her people. Fuh-Rog, my anthropomorphic frog, was my sitting-room companion. Our turtles have been part of our dining room entertainment for 25-plus years!”
A similar kinship occurs with doggies and my friend Gail. She had poodles for many years but eventually, several years after losing the last poodle, she and her husband Jack decided on the schnauzer breed. Like so many people, including my father, when they lost their first schnauzer they didn’t have the heart to get another one. Several years passed, and they reached out to a reputable breeder and Kailee found them.
Gail explains, “First and foremost I think of her as our own personal Godwink. We didn’t think we would get another dog after the trauma of losing our Kaydee but out of the blue we started thinking about a dog. So, I did some internet search and found a breeder, but their website showed there were no puppies available and upcoming litters were already spoken for. I had this pull to at least call to find out about getting on a future list. When I called, the breeder said she just had a puppy become available that afternoon, and it was a little girl which we would have wanted, and she would be ready to go home in ten days. The next night we went up to see her, and of course the minute I held her I knew she was mine. Ten days later she came home and brightened our lives. She’s brought so much joy and love and fun into our lives – she’s the sweetest and smartest little girl and has the cutest personality. I truly believe in my heart that she chose us. And was only ever meant to be ours.”
None of my friends understand why there would be a special day labeled National Pet Lovers Day, because loving our pets can’t be celebrated on just one day; we love our pets every day and usually more often than that. I know our animals (two beagles and a horse) get special treatment every single day! We do love our pets!
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