I’m not a huge fan of the word “owner.” I own my clothes, I own my phone, but do I own my pets? If anything, they own me! But in all seriousness, I prefer the term pet-parents, or even just parents. After all, I raised my pets, I care for my pets, I assume responsibility for my pets, and I love them. They are family.
Being a pet parent can be a roller-coaster ride. The “baby” months are often a lot of work. If you have a puppy, you’re constantly preoccupied with crate-training and/or potty training, teaching them what is okay to chew on and what is not, building trust as their pet-parent as well as making sure they have plenty of socialization with other people and other animals so they grow to be healthy, happy, safe, trusting adults, and so much more! If you have a kitten, your hands will look like you got in a fight with a scalpel for a good few months while teaching Kitty that your body is NOT a scratching post! RIP curtains until kitty learns the appropriate places to scratch, and that toys are not the same as body parts. The truth is, every young animal relies on you to dedicate the time, love, and patience it takes to guide them.
Like a parent of tiny humans, your “job” as a pet-parent is never over. That animal will need you to care for them consistently and dependably every day of their life, but as a pet-parent, I can honestly say that the love and appreciation they give you back is worth every “accident” on the floor, every accidentally ruined curtain, and even the minutes of sleep you lose because you have to get up early and make sure your dog gets a short walk to poo and pee, or morning play sessions with kitty so they are not a bundle of mischievous energy while you are at work.
Being a pet parent can be inevitably heartbreaking. I got my first cat at eleven years old, and she was my best friend. Tinkerbelle and I had a bond that I struggle to find words to describe. One summer, I went to camp for four weeks and Tinkerbelle was left in my father’s care. An indoor kitty, she escaped past my father one day and hid under our gazebo. My dad was quite worried, and daily he would sit out there and try to coax her out, but she would not come to him no matter what he did. He left food and water for her every day, and sat by the gazebo every night faithfully until I arrived home. Immediately I went to the gazebo and called her, and she shot out from her tiny hiding place and right into my arms in five seconds. The look on my father’s face was priceless!
When I was in my twenties, Tinkerbelle started having many health problems and those problems extended to her kidneys. She got very sick, and to my horror, it was suddenly up to me to make a decision for Tinkerbelle; life without quality, or to end her pain and let her move on. That was one of the hardest choices I ever had to make. I saw with her and held her paw as she was put to sleep and I tried to be silent and supportive to her, but tears were streaming down my cheeks. She looked up at me moments before her life ended, and I knew she understood what was happening, and she wasn’t angry with me.
There was a part of me that was so hurt and empty that I didn’t know if I should ever get another pet, but as empty as I felt from Tinkerbelle’s passing, I felt just as empty not having pets because I knew so many animals out there deserve to be loved as much as I had loved her. When I felt the time was right, I went to a rescue with the intention of adopting another cat, but I ended up coming home with my first dog, Lily.
Taking that leap into being a pet-parent again after I lost my first best friend took a lot of courage on my end. I know that it’s quite likely I will outlive all of the pets in my home right now, and even though the thought of having to go through that pain again terrifies me, I have no regrets about having them with me now and loving and caring for them like they deserve. I admire every pet-parent who has faced loss, who has gone above and beyond to meet their pet’s needs, and who, despite all of those things, can’t imagine life being any other way.
Please take a moment, if you are a pet-parent, to remind yourself what an amazing gift you are giving your pets. If you are not a pet-parent, but you have a family member or a friend who is, tell them that it is Pet Owner’s Appreciation Day, and remind them that their pets love them very much.
So many pets are in need of forever homes. If you’re thinking about expanding your family, please consider adopting a rescue. The gift you give them is priceless, immeasurable, and so very worth it. Stop by your local shelter, or contact a rescue near you today :).
Last note : I may be biased, but here at Emerald City Pet Rescue, we have PLENTY of extremely wonderful pets waiting to find their forever homes! Check out our website at http://www.emeraldcitypetrescue.org