My kids tried for years to persuade me to get a dog. I hadn’t grown up with one, and most of us in the family have allergies. In January 2017, however, a litter of a hypoallergenic breed of puppies became available within an hour’s drive of our home. I agreed to go meet them, and once I saw those fluffy creatures, I melted. Of course, we had to bring one home with us.
I’ll be honest, those first few months of puppy ownership were nightmarish for me. Not only did she howl non-stop throughout her first few nights at our house, but our puppy also came to us with a gut infection and the diarrhea was constant for months. With long, curly non-shedding fur, she was hard to clean and I’d already had my fill of cleaning up toileting accidents after ushering three children through potty training. As if that weren’t enough, the New England winter had kicked into high gear the week we got her. Try taking your brand new puppy out the necessary 10 times a day during a blizzard, and maybe you’ll understand why I might have had some bad moments that winter.
A few weeks into this experience, my daughter approached me to say she loved the puppy but we should probably give her back because I just wasn’t my old self anymore. I took a breath and assured her that although these first few months were hard, this puppy was now a member of our family. I told her that once the weather improved and as the puppy grew, this would all be worth it. I secretly crossed my fingers and hoped that would be the case.
Sure enough, fast forward to this year and we couldn’t be more in love with our dog. She delights everyone in our extended families and many of our friends. She has brought us closer with our neighbors, who we now see more often than we used to and chat with regularly when we are all out walking our pets. During the pandemic, she gave us joy and entertainment while we isolated at home.
I know we’re not the only ones who are crazy about our pet. Julia is so obsessed with her cats, that she’s brought one along on family road trips. My niece created and maintains an Instagram account solely to post photos of her two dogs. Whether your pet is canine, feline, reptile or other type of creature, most of us feel we couldn’t live without their companionship once they become part of our daily lives.
Time spent with cats is never wasted.Sigmund Freud, Austrian Psychoanalyst
About 95 million American families own pets, according to the National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. The survey reported that cats and dogs are the most common type of pet by a strong margin, but I was a bit surprised to learn that 5.7 million families own reptiles. Then, I was reminded that even Julia and her cat-loving sons have a pet leopard gecko to go along with their two cats.
Animals are such agreeable friends—they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.George Eliot, British Author
Happy National Pet Week to our animal friends! Even if you don’t own a pet, we encourage you to get out this week and appreciate the joy and friendship animals can bring us. Whether that means visiting an animal shelter, a nature preserve or someone else’s pet, it feels good to find a way to give back some love to some of the most loyal creatures on earth.