Dogs and cats are loyal to you until the day you die. Can you say you'd be there for them in the same way?
Listen up, Michael Vick: Pets are not prize fighters nor punching bags.
I’m not saying all pet owners should go out and buy designer dog collars and billion dollar pet beds, and show them extravagance in the name of love; but it bothers me a lot when people don’t realize in the simplest way: pets, are family too.
As a matter of fact, unless you have a surplus of cash, I don’t recommend going out and getting designer dog duds, or fancy cat coiffeurs, and the like, anyway – because sooner or later, your best friend is going to get sick, get hurt, need special food, or supplies, and I tell you from experience – that’s expensive! So, it’s better to be prepared and realize even before you adopt your fuzzy pal, that pets, like kids, are costly. So buckle up, because I believe pets are part of your family for the long haul, and it’s better to brace yourself than find yourself in a situation where you are unable to afford medical care or the necessities for your dog or cat when the unexpected arises.
I don’t believe it’s right for a second, that if you find out your pet has a disease or becomes disabled, it’s ok to return, abandon, sell, or place them up for adoption, in situations like these. Worse yet, don’t use euthanasia as an easy way out! You wouldn’t do it if your child got sick; so it’s not right to do it to an animal. They are not just your “property”; they are your loyal, trusting friend, looking to you for their every need.
I’m sure naysayers would give me a rebuttal and say that maybe someone else out there would be better suited to take care of a pet with special needs. I don’t buy that. A pet wants to have the comfort of a home, a single home, with familiar family members surrounding him. It’s just not fair to them to play pass the pooch or consign the cat when the going gets tough. And if you don’t think you can give your pet enough attention, no matter what kind of attention that is, then maybe you should not become a pet owner in the first place. Love, is love; and loving an animal should never be an inconvenience.
All a pet wants is very simple: unconditional love, a good, permanent home, and to be treated with kindness. Not material objects, not fortune and fame, and not to be forgotten or discarded like yesterday’s news.
Several events over the course of my lifetime have helped to shape my views on pets. When my parents put my childhood friend, my miniature poodle, Brandy, down, without giving me a chance to say good-bye one last time, or even hear the vet’s assessment of the situation, it was probably the most influential event of all. I was an adult, living on my own, in a pet-friendly apartment complex and made it clearly known I was willing to take Brandy in to live with me if my parents felt that his old age was a burden. However, in the end, my pleas fell on deaf ears and I am really sad about how things turned out to this day.
I don’t blame the vet. When vets see pets up in years, and by law, a pet is considered “property”, they really have no recourse other than to obey the owner’s wishes.
Brandy, a fluffy 22 pound poodle, was full of life and energy. I knew him since I was eight years old. He was more than just my dog. He was my friend, my confidant who I told my secrets to, and always knew just the right moment to give me a lick and never turned away my hugs. As he aged, he slowed down a bit; he couldn’t walk as fast and sometimes he had an accident or two if he wasn’t let out as frequently as he needed to be. They didn’t have “doggie Depends” back then.
I always thought of his aging process like the aging process of a human. When humans get up in years, they can’t run and jump like they did in their youth. Sometimes incontinence is an issue. But it never stopped me from loving my grandparents and other elderly relatives one single bit.
Brandy was my pet, but he was a family member, too. He was as important to me as any person.
A few years later when I was emotionally ready to adopt another dog, I entered into the commitment knowing that it would be for life. Just as when a potential parent adopts a child, they go into the arrangement with permanence, my view is that when someone adopts a pet, the commitment should be ‘til death do you part. Period.
I’ve seen too many cases where an animal gets sick and the owner doesn’t want the hassle of cleaning up or care. Guess what? If you had a child you would need to clean up after him. You’d also need to take them to a doctor. It’s the same thing with a pet. You don’t just cut your losses and abandon them, or ship them off to a new home because you’re tired of the responsibility. And if you can’t afford to care for them, that should have been considered before you made the commitment to bring them into your home. There are ways to afford veterinary care for your pet. There is pet insurance, and if that’s not an option, there are veterinary offices that have hearts and will work out payment plans for their patients.
On the same note, people have changes in their life statuses where they get married or have children and no longer want their dog or cat around. I’ve heard the excuses that their spouse has an allergy or doesn’t want to live with an animal. There’s a pill for that, and when I got married, my pet was a part of the package deal – just like if I had a child it would be a non-negotiable part of accepting that proposal and sharing a household.
Sometimes people have to relocate and claim that their new living arrangements don’t allow for pets. Wait, what? Do you mean to tell me that you accepted a place to live on those terms when you had a choice as to where you could reside? Would you move into a senior citizen’s community and check your kids at the door? I don’t think so. The only difference between children and pets is the amount of fur they wear and biology. Family is family.
My dog was here before my child. When she was born he became protective and loving of her. His instincts took over and he wanted to be around her. He watched her every diaper change from his position poised on her bed. Now, 7 years later, she’ll read stories to him – and he listens.
Every time I’ve walked out my door, my dog, Bubbles, looks to me with an expression on his face as if to say “Where are you going? Can I come too?” And although he knows I will return, I’m greeted with excited jumps and kisses when I re-enter my house – every time. I’ve never been welcomed so happily and consistently by anyone else my whole life.
Sometimes I’ve lost my temper and spoken sharply to him. Then the ears go down if he did something he knows he shouldn’t have – like chew on a shoe or chase the cat. Thankfully, his love is endless and he forgives me more than any person I know is capable of.
When I adopted him, his biological mother entrusted me to take care of her baby. She didn’t know where he was going or what kind of person I was like, but I promised her I’d do my best to take care of her little boy and do right by her. Bubbles didn’t know the kind of home he’d come to. I’m sure he hoped for a grassy yard, good food, and lots of hugs; but pets can never take that for granted.
In my heart I knew that through thick and thin I’d be there for him. And the times when he’s hurt himself or gotten sick, he’s looked up to me with those big eyes and floppy ears wanting me to make it all better – just as a child would look to his mother or father to do the same. He counts on me to provide for him and be there for him all of the time. So I am.
Pets give unconditional love. Just as you would provide for a child, in the event you passed away, I feel you should provide for your pet, too. Did you know you can specify in your will that if something should happen to you, your pet can go live with someone else? It doesn’t cost a dime extra to do it either. I did this. Not that I’m morbid. You know, just in case.
There many times are situations, where pets outlive their owners, and then wind up homeless or in shelters because no one wants them. Granted, leaving your pet to someone only works if you have a discussion beforehand about their willingness to adopt them should the situation arise. Pets, are not a good surprise, for any occasion or situation. They require commitment, time, responsibility, and especially love. If any of those is lacking, it’s best to give someone else the opportunity to welcome them into their household.
Hopefully, as time goes on, more people will view their dogs and cats as true family members and not displace them at the first sign of hard times. Dogs have risked their lives for police officers and soldiers, not once abandoning them in their time of need. Cats have followed their owners across country, searching for their lost family. These are signs of their undying devotion. They’d never give up on you if you were old, frail, or failing, so please don’t do it to them.