Wagging Tails and Happy Kids

Mike - LaGrange Park, Illinois
Entered on February 24, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

Mike K

Ms. Meyers

English III IPC

February 17, 2008

Wagging Tails and Happy Kids

Waking up next to a ball of orange fur purring happily next to me is a memory I cherish. It was Ebenezer, an eighteen pound tabby cat, who I met when I was just two weeks old. I believe all children would be happier if they could grow up with a household pet, be it a tiny hamster or a lazy, old bloodhound because pets love us unconditionally, help children learn to care about someone other than themselves and explain that some great things do come to an end. Ebenezer was my best friend for eight years, but the pets have kept coming and my house always has someone wagging a tail.

Cleaning the litter box was not something I ever did. But the simple act of giving my cat fresh water and a lot of food (to maintain his playing weight) was a joy because I learned to care about someone other than myself. I learned not to pull his tail, but to let him snuggle on my lap when my mother read me Captain Underpants (and no, I was not sitting in my underpants!).

As I got older, Ebenezer and then Sam, Mickey, Lou and finally, Buddy the Dog, never yelled at me for a bad grade, unlike my mom. Licks and wagging tails are what great you every single day. None of my pets were expensive. All of them were homeless as they came either from a humane society or a foster home. All good things do, however, come to end.

When Ebenezer died from Feline AIDS when I was in third grade, I had to come to terms with profound sadness. The furry ball who curled up next to my eight pound body was off to Feline Heaven. Having a pet allows a child to understand that all living things do die and that we have to remember the happy times. More recently, this past year, my Golden Retriever became very ill with a blood infection, a strange mold disease he got at Thanksgiving in Wisconsin. At the age of sixteen, it was hard to consider a day without Buddy. But I knew that no matter what happened I would be strong enough to continue to have pets, even is we can never predict how long they will give us that lick. Buddy is on the mend now, but will never go for those long peaceful two mile walks-just me and the dog.

Last week I got hired at Brookfield Zoo as an admissions cashier. On the job application, there was an unusual question-had I ever had pets and, if so, what kind. I think I got the job because I could happily answered “yes.”