I grew up not just in an animal-friendly household, but in an animal-integrated household. We always had companion animals and they were part of the family. Some lived short lives and we lost them to illness. Some lived decades and we would marvel at how healthy they remained year after year. I take for granted that companion animals are a long-term commitment. You don’t give away or discard your family members. It’s just not done.
Because I was raised this way, I have very limited tolerance for people who treat companion animals like things or like furniture. Your dog is not a couch. Your cat is not a lamp. When you bring a companion animal into your life and your home, you should be prepared for a 15 to 20 year commitment and all that the commitment entails through the good, the bad, the hilarious, the infuriating and the heart breaking. I have often thought there should be pet caregiver vows, but I’m not sure who would administer them.
I make this promise to you.
I will care for you for your time on Earth.
I will value you on my worst of days and on your worst of days.
If you make a mess or eat my shoes, I will understand that is not done with malice but is the result of something I failed to do for you.
I will help you understand my language and I will learn yours so that we can communicate easily.
I will make sure you can be identified if we are ever separated from each other so you can find your way home.
I will never hurt you, abandon you or be cruel to you.
If you get sick, I will take care of you.
When you get old, I will take care of you.
I will have a care plan for you in case something happens to me so that you will have a new home with people who will love you as I do.
I value your unconditional love, your humor, your company and your soul.
And I will keep my promise to be there for you for all of your days.
If you are not prepared to make a commitment to a companion animal, please do not get one. If you have a burning desire to have a pet, but know you cannot make the commitment that entails, become a foster to save a life.
(image courtesy of Harley, Dan and Rudi Taylor; Harley is a puppy mill survivor who was named the Hero Dog of 2015; www.harleypuppymilldog.com)
I am an animal welfare advocate. My goal is to help people understand some basic issues related to companion animals in America. Awareness leads to education leads to action leads to change.
image courtesy of Terrah Johnson