This I Believe

Kathryn - Zeeland, Michigan
Entered on June 2, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
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This I Believe…

I can still remember the commercial showing a family at dinner entertaining company. The visitor asked, “Where’s that cute little puppy you had running around the house a few months ago?” The owner replied, “Well, he isn’t so little anymore.” The picture then pans from the warm, cozy dining room to the bitter cold backyard where the dog is chained to his house, head resting on his paws, and there is snow in his food bowl. The message was a powerful one. The commercial aired years ago, but the image was seared into my brain. The responsibility of pet ownership is never to be taken lightly. I believed it then, and I believe it now.

When we drove to the Humane Society for a new addition to our family, we went with clear guidelines as to the traits we would look for in a pet: puppy, small breed, non-shedding. We wanted to adopt a pet we could mold and train, that had no habits that had to be “unlearned.” We chose a six-week young, wire hair fox terrier. He was tan and white as a puppy, but is now the color of Betty Crocker whipped white frosting with just a few chocolate sprinkles. He’s beautiful, and he knows it! My husband laughs and tells company, “Don’t say the “D” word. He doesn’t know he’s a dog!”

Daley is a part of our family. He is a member of our home just as I am. He wags his tail in greeting when I come home from work, and he snuggles up to share my tears when I’m sad. He likes to eat, drink, play, relax, and just hang out with my boys. He likes to be warm in winter, and cool in summer. He even likes to swim in the pool! But there is one difference between Daley and the other members of our family (besides his canine descent); he is completely dependent upon us for his care. From his food to his vet checks, from fresh water to haircuts, from exercise to potty stops, he is our responsibility. In sickness and in health, in barking at neighbors and strangers, in vomiting on my white carpet to dancing for joy for a cookie, he is our responsibility.

The Humane Society in our area does a great job of enlightening prospective owners as to the approximate financial, time, and care commitment it takes when adopting an animal. They even have a questionnaire to be filled out that flags them to any areas in which a person may need further education as to pet ownership.

I believe everyone should realistically examine their reasons for wanting to bring a pet into their home. Carefully weigh the commitment you are making to a living, breathing creature that will be totally dependent upon you, against what you may envision as inconvenient, annoying, expensive, or just plain bothersome. If the decision is for pet ownership, make the responsible commitment to love, care for, and nurture the new member of your family for its entire lifetime. The companionship and love it returns will be well worth your efforts!