Heather - Bellevue, Washington
Entered on February 8, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

I believe in owning pets. Over the course of my nineteen years, my family has owned eleven birds, eight cats, three rabbits and a dog. Only two are still with us. I’m familiar with the argument that pets are not worth it: they smell, they shed, they suck up your time and energy, and worst of all, they make you fall in love with them and thank you for it by dying. I’ve heard this quite a few times. If you know that something is going to hurt you, why should you take part in it? Why should you own a pet if the end result is, inevitably, to be sobbing your eyes out in a veterinary waiting room?

Because however sad, smelly, hairy or expensive it is to own a pet, it is also full of joy. This animal is your companion, your friend, and it needs you. Taking part in something that you know will have an end is a sacrifice, and each of the twenty-one losses my family has faced was balanced by years of enjoyment. Arguing that it is a bad idea to own a pet because it will die indicates something else: the belief that it is not worth it to love and lose. The truth is that my pets have given me an appreciation for the raw, painful and beautiful things in the world. If I am able to feel that sad about my dear old cat, there must be a joy that I am equally capable of. I hope I will always be able to take the risk. To fall in love. To take the interview. To have a child. To own a pet. Own a pet because even though it hurts to lose them, that is what the world is full of. That is what makes us human. Deep sadness will be matched by overwhelming joy.