Dogs, cats, birds, and fish. The standard choices for a pet. I grew up with Dogs. Only two really. The first one was Teddy, a miniature schnauzer that my parents had before I was born. She was an incredible dog. She would let me dress her up in doll clothes and put her in cribs and strollers and she would stay there until I came and got her. She never once bit me. My mom walked her without a leash and she was trusted outside all day with no supervision and never once ran away. Ok maybe once, but only because she was afraid in the storm because no one let her back in…whoops. I loved that dog. I would have dreams that she died and wake up balling my eyes out. I was an only child so I can only imagine our bond had something to do with the fact that she was my furry sister, the closest thing to a real sibling I would have until I adopted two brothers when I married Eric. I remember the day I came home from school in the sixth grade and there was no Teddy. My dad had taken her to be put down. She was thirteen years old and couldn’t see very well anymore. My mom and I cried for months.
Then there was Toto. (Yes we have a thing for T names that should probably be boy names for female dogs). Toto was the opposite of Teddy in many ways. Black instead of grey, bad instead of good, runaway instead of faithful follower. Toto is adorable and thats probably the only reason she’s still breathing. She pees and poops in the basement, runs away almost weekly, and only listens when she feels like it. I think she thinks she’s a cat. Toto was only my problem during high school and then I moved out and was pet free for a couple years until I got married.
Shortly after Eric and I got married his brother adopted a grey cat from the humane society and we often got to cat sit. Soon after our brief encounters with Johnny, the little grey cat, Eric was hooked and before I could say “I’m not a cat person and neither are you” we were on our way to the humane society. I still remember the day we brought home our little black Dexter. He was from a litter of 4. Two girls, two boys, three black and one grey with blue eyes. We were attracted to the beautiful grey striped brother but he was too preoccupied with himself. It didn’t take long and Dexter was up in Eric’s lap fast asleep. I still say he chose us. $189 later and a screaming car ride home he was ours and we loved the poop out of him. He was a shoulder cat for a long time until he reached over ten pounds and just didn’t fit any more. He was and still is a neutral distraction to diffuse a fight, a snuggler on lonely rainy days, and he provides entertainment for company. He had his share of vet bills though. The poor little had anxiety and would (and still sometimes does) rip out chunks of fur from his back legs and belly and has a sensitive tummy, but we love him dearly. His anxiety greatly decreased upon the arrival of our California cat, Davy.
We adopted Davy from someone in Roseville when she was 3 months old for a meagre $15. Money well spent. She is a tortoise shell cat and man does she have an attitude. Introducing the two cats to each other was what I imagine having a new born baby is like in some respects. I had to keep them separated and slowly introduce their scents to each other and then a little face time each day. They hated each other at first. There was so much hissing and growling and fighting and I felt like such a bad cat mom. But eventually they got used to each other and now its not uncommon to find them cuddling on the couch or grooming each other. Davy is so different than Dexter. Where Dexter is quiet and keeps mostly to himself Davy is loud and always climbing on my lap. While dexter throws up from too much crumbs Davy is a garbage disposal, eating everything in sight with no ill effects. She is definitely mama’s cat. She sleeps with me every night and talks to me (aka yells at me) every time I come home to the apartment. She is the cutest and tiniest full grown cat I’ve ever seen but has the most hideous garbled meow. Every time someone goes into the bathroom she runs in, hops up on the sink, and gives a blood curdling meow because she wants that someone to turn on the tap so she can have some fresh running water. Only the best for her.
Having pets means having companionship and an outlet for love. Now that Ive had dogs and cats I think I honestly prefer cats. They have so much more personality and are much more mobile and fun to watch. Davy’s constant nudging and walking over my electronics reminds me to put my phone and computer away and be in the moment. Dexters early morning cry reminds me there is somebody depending on me and reminds me that my life has purpose, not just to feed my cats but beyond my front door as well. Having pets teaches you responsibility and teaches you how to care for others. I love watching Eric play with the cats. You can tell so much about someone by the way they interact with pets. Do they ignore the animals obvious discomfort and hold them anyways or do they respect their fear or discomfort and admire them from a distance. Are they fearful? disgusted? annoyed? I believe pets are such a blessing and help curb strong negative emotions and provide a protective factor from mental health issues. I don’t think I will ever not have a pet.