If you have ever loved and lost a pet, you will understand my family’s hesitation in getting another pet.
I’ve written about my pets before — a 16-1/2-year-old Old English Sheepdog and an indoor shelter cat we had for more than 16 years. Both pets died recently within six months of each other. We have been in mourning.
My editorials in the past have been about understanding the responsibilities of pet ownership before acquiring a pet for yourself or as a gift for someone else.
In addition to the expense of maintaining pets — food, toys, treats, grooming and veterinary bills — the emotional commitment is sometimes equally overwhelming.
Both pets were members of our family; our sheepdog grew up with my two boys and was devastated when one boy went into the military and one to college. The animals would sit on my sons’ beds and wait for them to come home.
When both pets passed, my husband and I decided there would be no more pets — not so much because of the monetary issues but because of the emotional toll it took on us.
Fast forward to September, when we welcomed a Weimaraner puppy into the family. This has been an interesting couple of months.
It has been a long time since I’ve been involved with potty training, setting my alarm to take a puppy out, cleaning up accidents on the floor and more. Do I get pee pads? What in the world are those? I don’t remember those from 16 years ago.
I had a nice pair of sandals I wore during the summer. Perhaps you saw them if I came out to cover your event. Now I have one. “The puppy” successfully chewed one of the straps on one shoe while we weren’t looking.
And don’t even think about walking in my house without holding on to a wall or railing; the puppy often is on a mission of his own — dashing through the house, past or between your legs, often making you lose your balance to get to wherever he is going. I still haven’t figured out where that is or what the rush is about.
There are puppy toys everywhere. If you get up in the middle of the night and step on one of the squeaky toys, that signals play time. Great.
We are currently attending puppy training classes with another dog named Sophie.
Sophie sits quietly, is a little shy and listens to the trainer when a treat or a ball is placed in front of her for training purposes.
Our puppy devours his treats, eyes the table where the additional treats are held, loves the ball and is, frankly, a little jealous when Sophie has the ball or an uneaten treat. I know he contemplates how he can break free of the leash, jump on the table and be in treat heaven.
Our puppy feels it is his civic duty to find and devour all uneaten treats, as well as anything else within his sight range.
This is a work in progress for sure.
I tell you our story because this is the time of year when many purchase or adopt animals and give them as gifts to family members or friends who may have been like my family after the loss of a pet. Owning a pet is a big commitment.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® states approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter United States animal shelters nationwide every year. Approximately 3.3 million of those are dogs and 3.2 million are cats.
Veterinarian Dr. Andy Roark created a humorous video for VetStreet: “Think Twice Before Giving Pets as Gifts.” The video displays a number of potentially unwanted gifts, and the message is clear and written at the bottom of the screen for added emphasis — “Friends Don’t Surprise Friends With Commitments. Pets = Commitments.”
Many years ago, I made the mistake of buying my parents a poodle puppy as a replacement for the family poodle that had recently passed. I returned the puppy after only a few days. Pets, especially for older folks, can provide a falling hazard if they run as quickly through the house as mine does.
There are plenty of older pets in shelters waiting for their forever homes; however, before giving as a gift, make sure the recipient is really ready for the commitment.
Pets provide an overabundance of joy, and this puppy has quickly become a member of the family — not to replace the pets we lost, but rather to add to the joy we receive every day when we see the trust he has put in us.
I trust he will stop eating my shoes. If not, I’ll be talking with the publisher to ask for a raise.
East Penn Press