We love and cherish our pets as if they were our children. When I was growing up we had yellow Labrador Retrievers. Over the last forty years, I’ve been the proud parent of a series of tiny dogs including three Maltese and the current animal-in-residence, a Yorkshire Terrier. I fell in love with Yorkies in the late sixties when I lived on Spencer Avenue near the CNE in Toronto’s Liberty Village district. Every weekday morning as I walked up the street from my apartment to catch the King streetcar to go to work downtown I would see a young man walking three adorable little Yorkies on leashes. I was fascinated and totally besotted with those little creatures and their saucy walk.
When my last Maltese, Gracie, was nearing the end, I did some calculations and figured I had time for one more dog before I go to “the home”, and I wanted that dog to finally be a Yorkie. We adopted Sassy after she had been rejected by her previous owners for being too rambunctious, or stubborn, or simply too terrier-like. She was seven months old and we were her third home. She’s eleven years old now and just as defiant but cute as hell.
A few months ago I made the enormous mistake of joining Instagram and immediately found my feed loaded with pictures of cute Yorkies and Maltese dogs. Never click on the little heart icon. You’ll never again have a moment’s peace. It was reassuring though to see that I’m not the only crazy dog mother who can watch pet postings endlessly.
At least I am realistic enough to realize my pet is definitely not the smartest or even that smart at all. She’s not motivated by food so training has been challenging. She was a total embarrassment at puppy school all those years ago when she refused to do anything we were trying to teach her. There was another Yorkie in the class who performed all the commands superbly and I suspect was also capable of doing her owner’s income taxes so I know her shortcomings are not breed specific. Not a single trick. Even her “Sit” command is met with a quick squat, then she bounds off, immediately spitting out the treat I’ve given her for displaying such genius behaviour.
After watching a shocking video “Pet Fooled”, (I urge you to check it out here on YouTube) a few years ago about the disgusting contents of manufactured commercial animal food (i.e. anuses, teeth, ears, noses, eyes, etc.), I started cooking her food. She probably eats better than we do. While I always leave dry dental food down for her to crunch on during the day, I now cook all her food. Ground chicken or beef, broccoli, peas, carrots, and cauliflower are all mixed together. Once a day I microwave it in a little Corelle fruit nappy for ten seconds to warm it up and put it down around noon. Sometimes the food sits there all day and never gets eaten by the time we go to bed and sometimes she prefers to wait and eat supper at the same time we do.
Yes. I am one of those people. But, it’s a family affair as it was my husband who insisted I warm up her food first. He’s one of those people too. We haven’t yet resorted to taking her for walks in a doggie stroller but I’m always on call to pick her up and carry her when she gets tired on our walks and asks to be picked up.
I have a friend who is currently considering adopting a new fur baby. She has had pets in the past so she has no illusions about the responsibility. Personally, I can’t imagine life without one. Sure, they make mistakes, create messes, are disruptive, and sometimes need expensive veterinary attention or boarding, but the payback is beyond measure.
There’s a reason we pet owners get so stupid about our pets. Cats are different from dogs in terms of personality but equally loveable and loved dearly by their owners. My animals have helped me through a painful divorce, forced me to get outside and walk, kept me warm at night, and love me unconditionally.
Having a pet means you will never again have to go to the bathroom alone. They keep you on schedule with an early morning wakeup call and a reminder of meal times. Life is littered with surprises—some good, some not so much. Nuggets of dog food will turn up in your shoes, in your bed, and between the sofa cushions, safely stashed in case of future famine. Other kinds of nuggets turn up from time to time too but we won’t go into that.
Loneliness is a major epidemic these days. So many people, for various reasons, live alone and as a result of COVID and technology we are being isolated from human contact, which is essential to survival. It’s no coincidence that thousands of people have adopted pets in the last couple of years. It’s therapeutic to have someone other than ourselves to think about and give us unlimited affection. Pets put us in touch with our humanity and keep us connected.
I do not see a downside at all. In fact, because of the age of our current resident pet, we’re considering the possibility that we’re soon going to have to start looking for an older rescue dog to adopt to get us through our last few years to share the seniors’ life together. We’re just as needy as they are so the way I see it, it’s a win/win.