The Internet is full of stories of the benefits of pets. Let me tell you my story.
Zuko arrived Sunday night, shaking in Bridget's arms while staring at Grizzly.
"This is not going to be good," I thought. Grizzly is a Mastiff blend weighing over 100 pounds. Zuko is a Pomeranian-Australian Shepherd mix weighing just under 10 pounds. Snack food for Grizzly.
Zuko is the sixth dog in my life. There was Kirby in my youth, Teddy during my young adult life, Abby when our children were young, Nala and Grizzly about three years ago, and now, Zuko (and still Grizzly).
The worst part about pets is having to say good-bye. I had to do it four times. It doesn't get any easier.
We are on day four. Zuko kisses Grizzly. Zuko also tries to steal Grizzly's food and toys. Grizzly has taken on the role of mentor dog, teaching Zuko that it's better to use the potty outside. Zuko hasn't quite caught on but he's learning. Grizzly shares his bed, but Zuko is more interested in chewing it.
Zuko fits into areas Grizzly can't fit - like around our claw-foot bathtub, behind the flower bench outside, and under the porch. Grizzly doesn't seem to mind. He's pretty chill with the excited puppy.
Pets are not for everyone. That doesn't make them bad people. Animals can stink, shed, leave surprises, and consume a lot of time. Pets need babysitters if you're traveling (unless you're taking the animal(s) with you. The worst part about pets is having to say good-bye. I had to do it four times. It doesn't get any easier. When Nala passed, I told myself there would be no more dogs when Grizzly went.
Then I saw Zuko's picture.
Well, what can I say?
With all the negatives, what are the positives?
Pets are entertaining and provide security, pets can offer unconditional love, pets can take us out of ourselves and problems, pets require some sacrifice, forcing us to be just a little bit better people (we hope). I've only had dogs, so the examples below are from my own dog experiences.
Entertainment & Safety
I have been fortunate with my pets because all of them have been good natured. They've had silly quirks or provided some form of security. Nala made me laugh when I took her for walks. She yanked on the leash because I didn't go fast enough. Then, when she had enough, she'd roll over, like a Weeble toy. Grizzly barks when it's time to go to bed. He follows us upstairs and plops onto his bed.
Abby, a yellow lab, would mash herself onto the patio chair, her head hanging over the side. Teddy scared an uninvited man out of the house. I was home alone. When I entered our dining room there was a man standing there. He said he was from the Electric Company. He didn't have an ID. Teddy jumped and planted his front paws on the man's shoulders. The man ran out of the house.
Face licks. Snuggles. Listening. That's what my dogs have done. If you're a germaphobe, maybe you won't appreciate the face licks. Keep your hand sanitizer handy.
Have you ever come into a darkened, empty house? How about working at home? Empty nester? Sometimes life feels lonely. With a dog, there's the barking to go out, the wiggling, and a welcome home tail wag (unless the pet is up to some mischief). They're happy to see you. That's not always the case with your other family members or co-workers.
Outside our problems
I have a friend who acquired a dog when her child got gravely ill with leukemia. The animal is the child's companion. Before Covid, animals used to be welcomed as visitors at nursing homes. I've seen smiles and peace radiate from the residents when encountering a friendly animal. When walking my dogs, people love to pet them. It's comforting (as long as the dog is friendly) especially for little children.
Very often we are consumed with what's going on inside ourselves. Pets can also slow us down and help us focus on something besides work or stress. This morning between blog writing, I sat outside and watched Zuko zoom around the yard while Grizzly just stared at him.
Sacrifice is a good thing
Animals are living creatures so they need food, water, and shelter. They also need vet visits and they might need some additional care. This forces us to leave the comfort of our beds in the early morning, clean up the yard, or take a walk with an antsy dog. Having pets can also teach children lessons on care and responsibility, but you need a plan and a way to make them follow through on their duties.
A survey of adults by the American Heart Association found that people cited they had a "Better sense of purpose"(1) when they had a pet.
For me, having dogs has been a plus (for the most part). Like I mentioned before, they're not for everybody. If, however, you're dealing with some type of emotional crisis or a major change in your life, maybe a pet is for you. Make sure you do some research and planning. But keep in mind that with any animal, no matter how prepared you think you are, be prepared for some shocks that might not always be great. Maybe that's why I love dogs so much, they're always surprising me.
Thanks for reading. Please share.
Carol L. Paur
Please check out this month's podcast on marketing with author, Lois Winston.
I'll be at the Caramel Crisp Corner book shop Sunday, May 21. Stop over and say hello.
5 Ways Pets Help with Stress and Mental Health. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-bond-for-life-pets/pets-as-coworkers/pets-and-mental-health