In my house, we joke that my husband Mark is an “animal liker” and I am an “animal lover”. He actually does love animals, but I guess the way I look at non-human creatures goes a just a little beyond. In my mind, my furry friends are just that – friends. This can be a little disconcerting to a spouse who comes home unexpectedly in the middle of the workday to find 4 miniature horses playing in our backyard with our dog – true story. Or a neighborhood cat or three having a snack on our back fence. Or any number of friends’ dogs over for a quick playdate with our dog. Or even a mini-pig come to visit.
If we had more space, I’d have quite the menagerie, but a small Tarrytown house & lot is somewhat limiting, so we only have one Cardigan Welsh Corgi; the World’s Best Cat; and Vader, the Curious Corn Snake. Not technically a pet, but a critter we have grown fond of, is Armey the Armadillo, who lives in a little hole under the west side of our house.
Why do so many of us choose to share our homes with other species? For me, I think it’s a combination of a need to nurture and a curiosity into their quiet minds.
Study after study has shown that pets are actually good for our health. They help lower our blood pressure and reduce stress. All those “therapy” dogs we see nowadays in airports? I have some good friends who swear that having their dog on the plane with them greatly reduces their anxiety. Children who are exposed early to animals tend to have fewer allergies. I have a photo of my 2-week old son meeting a donkey nose-to-nose – no allergies! As for your social life, if you have a dog, I guarantee you’ll make more friends.
Of course, not everyone should be a pet owner. If having a pet is for you, it is important to know the responsibilities involved. I call it a 15-year commitment. You have to feed, bathe, walk, play with, provide veterinary care, etc. It can get expensive, but in the long run, having a loving dog or cat or bird or any of a number of other critters in your home can be one of the most rewarding relationships of your life.