For the love of the dog--- and the bird

As I sit here on this quiet February afternoon, I look around our cute little apartment and take everything in--- the larger-than-life plasma TV that we did not need (Hi, Shawn!), the decorations on the wall that I'm already sick of, my boots in the corner that have been seriously victimized by the snow--- and of course, the dog hair. And the bird feathers. Oh, and the dog and the bird. I've realize that, without these two additions to our home, it wouldn't be quite our home. Archie and Fiona are part of the family, they keep things colorful, they make us laugh, and I, for one, cannot picture life without them. Sure, I may have to go in the other room when I'm talking on the phone because Archie can't bare any moment when he's not the center of attention and makes it known so loudly via his squawking that I can't hear myself think, and of course I have to keep a lint roller on hand 24/7 to brush the dog hair off the couch and our clothes, but you know what? I think it is absolutely worth it. It's worth it because, when I first see Archie in the morning, he never fails to wish me a very enthusiastic "Good morning!"- even if I slept past noon. Expensive dog food and necessary vaccinations are so worth the exuberant tail-wagging I get when I come in the door, even if I've only been gone for five minutes.

I've sacrificed many-a-pairs of good shoes because a little puppy named Fiona was teething and pissed off at us for leaving her in the apartment. Countless migraines have been worsened due to Archie's incessant need to let his presence be known, not just by us, but by the neighbors, too. I vacuum daily because Fiona likes to rip the stuffing out of her new toys, and unless I take Archie into the other room with me when I go, he screams at me, clearly outraged by his temporary abandonment. Toilet paper was shredded, our comforter has a tiny hole in it where Fiona attempted to create her own Winter Wonderland by destuffing it, there's a spot of drywall in the bathroom we're gonna have to fix before we move, and Fiona and her puppy friend Bella even decided to play dress up with my makeup one night while we were gone, scattering Cover Girl bronzer all over our tan carpet.

Owning pets has been an adventure, but one I wouldn't trade for the world. The love I have for my animals surprises me sometimes-- my loyalty to them, my empathy for them. Somewhere along the way, I became one of those people--- who throw birthday parties for their dogs, swaddle their birds in towels like babies so they'll relax, and dress their puppies up for Halloween. I became one of those people, who would rather hurt myself than see one of my animals hurt, who has somewhat humanized the personalities of my pets, and will likely need to be committed the day one of them departs from this world. And you know what? I'm proud to call myself an animal lover. I just simply do not understand how people can mistreat animals- or buy them like the hottest commodity and then cast them aside when they become somewhat inconvenient.

Owning a pet, while, in my opinion, the benefits certainly out weigh the inconveniences, is a huge commitment. I wish more people would realize that before they get something they can't take care of, or just don't want to take care of. I wish spay and neutering laws were mandatory in all fifty states, and I wish people would think twice before buying an animal from a breeder or pet store- and instead consult their local animal shelter- where half the animals that go in, never come out. I look at Fiona and how much she loves me unconditionally, how she trusts me to always do what's best for her, and I wonder how anyone could be mean to something so innocent and pure. A dog's sole purpose in its life is to make its master happy, and we too often take that for granted. I can barely fathom the horror stories I hear about animal abuse and neglect- leaving a dog when one's home is foreclosed on, keeping a dog tied up out back, duct-taping a cat, plucking a bird's feathers for the fun of it- I just don't understand.

note, I photoshopped the bird onto the dog's head when someone needed a copy of them together for a Christmas gift- they don't get this close.

My animals have been there for me in my darkest moments, they've kept me company on the loneliest of days. They forgive me, time and time again, for being human. They are always excited to see me, and they couldn't care less about the state my hair is in. I don't have to jump through any hoops to get them to love me, they just do. Unconditionally, and for the simple reason that I loved them back. In a perfect world, every animal would be loved- none would be harmed unnecessarily, none would be euthanized because they were considered "unadoptable". Every homeless animal would find a loving home. If I could, I would scoop up every dog, cat, bird, fish, iguana, hamster, guinea pig, chinchilla, and rooster in the world that was in need of some love, and take it home and feed it, clean it up, and make it feel at home. But I can't-- the only thing more sad than cruelty to animals is animal neglect because someone thought they were doing good and took in too many animals, far more than they could care for. All I can do is encourage you to adopt an animal from a shelter, research the relationship between pet stores and puppy mills, look on sites like Craigslist and Free Cycle for people who are trying to find loving homes for their animals- save a life.