I have noticed an interesting phenomenon. Virtually everyone I know has a pet. I do too. I’m not sure how, or even when, the tides changed from pet ownership being an exception to now being the norm. Even people who I generally wouldn’t guess to be animal-kinds of people end up being pet owners.
Besides the big-breed animals, like horses, pigs and cows, the majority of pets of course are dogs or cats. Yet many folks I know have both – and they don’t stop there… they add on hamsters, fish, birds, frogs…. you name it. I grew up in a pet household, so it feels natural to me to have someone furry in the house. There are a myriad of reasons we Real Women become pet owners – it could be, like me, that we grew up with them — or possibly because the men in our lives are pet owners, or because of loneliness, to help rescue abandoned critters, or, of course, due to pressure from our kids.
But no matter what the reason, one thing is for sure. Our pets get us wrapped around their paws in a heartbeat. Within weeks, days, even minutes, our lives become “all about them.” We spoil them more than we spoil the humans in our lives. We forget they are animals, as they literally become part of the family. We buy them toys, treats, sometimes even outfits and shoes. (Clearly I’m talking about cats and dogs here, I’d hate to try to get a tiny raincoat on a pet frog.) We will rush them to the vet when they have a cut paw while we are suffering from the flu. We will make sure we stop after work to get them their food so they don’t go without, thus putting off our own grocery shopping. We are pre-occupied with their welfare, making sure they get exercise (do I have time to get him to the doggy park tonight?), worried they are lonely while we are at work (I better leave the radio on for her), make sure we have someone available to care for them when we are out of town or unavailable (did I make reservations at doggy camp for the weekend we are away?), and we take a zillion photos of them.
And, fess up – most of us hug, kiss, and cuddle our pets, potentially even more than our spouses. My husband has made comments about growing a long tail and big ears so I’ll greet him as exuberantly at the end of the day as I do my dog. Many of us allow our pets on to our furniture, even our beds. “Aww, but it is so cute that he wants to snuggle up to my son at night”…. yup, we all do the things we swore we’d never do BEFORE we became pet owners.
What truly slays me is the personalities and “voices” we give our pets. After all, in our minds, they are furry humans. So we will interpret their thoughts, their moods, and we will speak for them, giving them funny voices. And we will talk directly to them as if they understand every word. Yes, I know, we all are CONVINCED that our pets are the smartest animals in the world (well, most of them – just like humans, every now and then we’ll have a pet that has to get by solely on its looks rather than its intelligence.)
All we ask in return, apparently, is some level of obedience, loyalty and never-ending unconditional love. Luckily, for most pets, those are easy goals to reach. I was actually hesitant in getting a dog, because I knew darn well that I would fall head-over-heels in love, as would my family, and there is always the fear that a pet’s time with us will be cut too short. But I realized that was no excuse to deprive my son especially of learning the responsibilities, and experiencing the joys, of pet ownership. And as much as I dread the day that our beloved Juke the Dog is no longer with us, I will never regret that he’s part of our family. Besides, if we didn’t have him, I shudder to think the economic blow that Petco would experience because I wasn’t shopping there for all the goodies he “needs”.
As I am writing this post, he has wedged his large body under the desk to lay snoring at my feet. Muse? Maybe not. But good luck charm and awesome foot-warmer? You bet.