Archive for February 9th, 2023

It’s not always bad news…

As the COVID-19 pandemic raged, the polarizing 2020 Presidential campaigns were being waged and merely living in America was becoming a gloomy prospect, I attempted to mitigate the dread surrounding us by focusing on the many joys and delights we could still enjoy, hopefully lifting spirits and soothing the soul. While carefully researched, every essay in this collection includes personal reactions that supplement and enhance the factual content. The result in interesting reflections and an affirmation that we can be positive and find joy in the most difficult of times.

I especially need these affirmations right now, as many of you know, since I lost my wife to cancer in December. I hope you enjoy them- my book info is at the end.

Reason #4- Pets

Not everyone loves pets.  They can be a pain to feed, clean up after, train (if even possible), and keep safe and healthy.  Did I mention the expense of feeding and keeping them healthy?  Pets range from dogs and cats to birds, lizards, snakes, hamsters, fish and exotic beasts.  Sizes can vary as well, with each pet family offering up a wide array of choices. Pet snakes might be a 2-foot garter snake or an 8-foot boa constrictor.  A dog might be a chihuahua or a great Dane.  Factor in lifestyle and the difficulties can expand exponentially.

Losing a long-time pet companion, a member of the family, can be excruciating and can take years to recover, if at all.  Unfortunately, like many pet owners, this has happened to me several times during my life.  I remember the lyrics from Mr. Bojangles: “His dog up and died, he up and died, and after 20 years he still grieves.”  Most people we have talked to who have lost beloved pets fall into this category.

So, why have a pet?  The simple answer is that they bring us joy.  Though I’m partial to mammals and birds — animals that have thinking brains — I know of people with iguanas, turtles, frogs or even angelfish who believe that their pet companions love them.

Like many boys, I had a menagerie of animals as pets growing up.  I even raised white lab rats.  I’ve had a full spectrum of tropical fish, amphibians, reptiles, parakeets, rabbits, cats and dogs.  I never liked snakes or live insects, and turtles were boring.  I’m allergic to cats, so they have never been my choice, but in my mind they don’t compare to dogs anyway.  (Note to cat people: I’m not dissing cats.  The tendencies and affections dogs show are just more my style.)  I’ve never owned a horse, but my son and daughter-in-law have two.

Ask almost any dog owner what is the one thing is that their dogs do that makes them happy and they’ll say the same thing — giving them unconditional love.   If you doubt this, just say goodbye and leave the house, then return in two minutes to retrieve your keys and they will act like you’ve been gone all day.  Come home from a terrible day at the office and they can show so much excitement to see you that your troubles can melt away.

There are science-backed benefits of owning a dog, and most apply to just about any pet.  They make you feel less alone and can help you live longer.  Studies suggest that dog owners have lower blood pressure levels and improved responses to stress.  Active pets encourage or require you to move, something now considered mandatory for good health.  An attractive pet, especially a dog, actually makes you more attractive to the opposite sex, with more phone numbers swapped and dates arranged when a pet is present than without one.  Last, but not least, your pet can make you happier and more social.

We had the pleasure of visiting my daughter and her partner in Seattle last summer and I was a little worried before arriving.  I knew they had parakeets and a cockatiel that they let fly free in their house.  I needn’t have been concerned.  They loved us.


As a cute finishing thought, I’ll turn to Novelist Anne Tyler.  “Ever consider what pets must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul – chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we’re the greatest hunters on earth!

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