According to research, pets are good for your health. There are lots of reasons, but I think the main one is that they provide an endless source of unconditional love. The relationship I have with my cat and dog are in many ways as good as it gets.
Most mornings begin with my cat, Flea, an inch from my face, staring at me, looking for a sign that I’m awake. I know what she’s thinking: It’s almost 6:00 a.m. Get up, you lazy human, and open a can of Friskies. Relentless in her pursuit of breakfast, her behavior escalates if I feign sleep. She paws at my cheek, and if I still don’t move, she gently nibbles at my nose. Get up! Like the plants in The Little Shop of Horrors, her mantra is Feed me!
And so I do. We have an understanding. I provide the food and she provides affection. Later in the day, she’ll wind herself around my legs and purr, or bring me a dead bird or mouse—an expression of unconditional love.
Once the cat is fed, I turn on the computer, make a pot of coffee, and begin my day by writing a blog post. Coming up with ideas that motivate, inspire, or inform isn’t always easy. Life isn’t always that exciting. I haven’t taken an exotic vacation in years, and fortunately, I’m not dealing with any catastrophic issues (pun intended) other than my pet.
I can’t imagine life without pets.
In addition to Flea, I also have Loki, a Golden Retriever who is twelve today, April 20. She has shoulder dysplasia, arthritis in her joints, and glaucoma, but loves life despite her disabilities. She has the sweetest disposition, and she greets everyone with affection and enthusiasm. Like the cat, Loki is also motivated by food. It might take her a few minutes to get out of her bed, but her day always begins with a dental bone.
While Flea spends most of her days outdoors, Loki spends her days near my feet, waiting to do something exciting. Before she had trouble standing, every day was filled with walks. Now, walks consist of roaming the back yard and maybe going down the driveway to the mailbox. The days of long walks on the trails near my house are over. Even though she can’t do it anymore, as soon as I pick up my boots, she furiously wags her tail in anticipation of an adventure. Hating to disappoint, I now keep my boots in the car so she can’t see me put them on.
I know our days together are numbered.
“How much longer do you think you’ll have Loki?” my daughter, who has two young dogs, asks. It’s a question I can’t bare to think about, let alone answer. That’s the problem with pets. They don’t live long enough, and then we must deal with losing them.
That’s also the problem and the beauty of getting close. Life is so fragile and transient.
What other option is there than to appreciate each moment for what it brings and generate as many positive memories as possible?