Our family pooch Cookie is a nuggetty little Jack Russell Terrier crossed with God-knows-what. He is undeniably socially inept when it comes to others of his kind. His stumpy front legs turn outwards and he is afflicted by skin allergies to silly things like grass, that see him determinedly licking his paws at any given opportunity.
He is deeply offended by the advances of other four-legged beings and has been known to hold a grudge beyond what is decent and reasonable. He is intensely dedicated to playing fetch but is appalled at the fact that when on a beach, he is expected to swim (swim!) into the water in order to retrieve the ball. Yes, if Cookie were a person, he’d be a Forrest Gump of sorts; a creature that is utterly endearing in his inability to ever reach the top of the food chain.
But just like many a fur-child around the world, ours brightens our household like no human could. The flavour that pets add to our lives can only truly be understood by those that have shared their lives with one that is furred, feathered or scaled.
I’m not talking about the obvious heroes- the guide dogs, the search and rescue dogs or those incredible pooches who detect seizures in their epileptic owners before they even occur. I’m referring to those everyday creatures, without special training or powers. The ones who make a terrible racket every time the doorbell rings and ‘help’ you with your gardening on weekends. Those that wake you up by stationing themselves purring on your chest every morning. That one that is right this moment snoring on your ottoman, chasing butterflies in his sleep.
A woman once shared with me that it was her four little fluff-balls who saved her from depression when she was battling breast cancer. That while it was her oncologist, her surgeon and her nurses who saved her body, it was her canine family that saved her sanity.
Another tale that I will never forget was a man’s very personal story, in which his Springer Spaniel was single-handedly (pawedly?) responsible for reuniting him with his estranged wife. And let us not forget those creatures who keep our senior citizens company when no-one else will.
Our pets add sparkle to our lives that we would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. For many, they are all that wait for them when they come home each evening. They make us laugh and remind us to look outside ourselves, even at times when that seems impossible. For those of us without kids, they give us something to be responsible for other than ourselves.
At the very least, if they are anything like Cookie, our fur-children provide intensive cuddles, free entertainment and a reason to get outside and throw a ball again…..and again…..and again.