“There was just no other heartbeat in the house!” my friend tearfully told me one day.
She had just lost her husband, and her dog.
And the fact she was alone now in her house, the silence palpable, was almost too much for her to bear.
And I cried along with her.
For our pets, a word allegedly derived from the word petty, are not so petty.
They are indeed another heartbeat in the house.
An entity and a sentient creature that needs our help to exist, to thrive, and in turn, gives us so much more.
Company and companionship.
A reason to get up in the morning.
A purpose to go outside and go for a walk.
Seeing a tail wag.
Hearing a throaty purr.
I have often felt that a house without a pet is not a home.
Growing up I had a goldfish or two, a toad, a lizard, and a mouse.
It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I acquired my first kitten. Chosen by the little beige creature as he stuck out his paw at me when I walked by his cage at the SPCA. And I never looked back.
Another cat a few years later.
And then a dog when the cats both passed.
And then a budgie.
Later some cockatiels.
And again, back to clean and sophisticated cats when the dog passed.
Along the way a horse or two entered the picture. But I am not sure if they count as pets because they don’t live under the same roof.
Our pets are one of the reasons why I love to be at home.
And while I like going away for short periods on a vacation or two throughout the year, I always love to come home, missing the faces of our purry pals.
The fact that science and research are now supporting the benefits of animal companionship, so much so that companion animals are allowed to travel with their owners in places where “regular” pets and animals are not, is something that we pet owners have known all along.
That petting an animal brings all kinds of good things to our bodies, minds and souls.
Lowering blood pressure, releasing feel-good hormones, reducing bad stress.
Home is where we spend the majority of our time, a place of refuge where we all wind up at the end of the day, if we are fortunate, so it should be filled with things we love and enjoy, a haven for the heart and spirit.
Filled with other heartbeats too.
I hope I am always able to have a pet or two around the house with me.
I think they keep us as healthy as we need to be in order that we may take care of them.
A quid pro quo, if you will.
So, here’s to the not-so-petty pet.