Pets are people. In fact, most of the time, they are better than people. Pets will lay on your legs and stay up with you while you struggle with algebra. They will stay up with you while you whisper on the phone with boys. They will look concerned when they find you crying, and might come lay on the pillow next to your head.
Pets never judge you.
They remind you to stay playful. They are entertained for hours by a pipe cleaner on a string. They do weird things like chew your hair or stand outside of your shower so they can lick it when you’re done. They will beg for human food but scoff when you offer them steak. They will crawl into your dresser drawers and take naps, and never move out of the way when you are carrying a load of laundry up the stairs.
Pets will watch the worst television with you. They won’t mind when you put in the Phantom of the Opera DVD every single day of the first five weeks of your Freshman year of high school. They will sit on your homework and chew on your pens. They will make you feel understood.
There are definitely times when pets can sense when you’re feeling shitty. They will seek you out when you have a stomach flu to rest near your barf bucket. They will eventually forgive you for vomiting on them that one time.
Sometimes pets run away and you don’t see them for a few days. Those days are awful. You imagine every terrible thing that could happen to your fur ball. You wonder if you unknowingly ran him over with the car. You think he might be frozen somewhere, even though it’s the middle of April. You look under everything, calling his name, unsure of whether or not he ever came when you called in the past. Maybe he only loved you for your tuna.
But pets come back when they can. Sometimes they call to you, howling outside the garage door. They don’t understand why you fuss over them, hugging a little too tight.
They might pee on you, or on your shoes. They might leave hairballs in your bathroom, or worse, under the kitchen table. They will leave fur all over your sophisticated black coat. And you’ll probably be pissed off, and think, “Why did I bring this cat/dog/hamster/boa constrictor into my home?!”
But let’s say that you’re ten years old, and so anxious to go to school that you fake sick all the time to get out of it. It’s summertime, and your grandma brings home two black and white cats, and they are everything cats should be: one hyper and pouncing, the other regal and subdued. His highness has a black nose and climbs onto your bed and purrs when you scratch his ears. You spend the summer smothering the two kitties. When you go back to school in the fall, you are different. You wake up with a cat curled up at your feet and feel braver. You’re a kid and you feel normal. It doesn’t make sense, it just happens.
Pets are family. They become part of inside jokes, are drawn on birthday cards and Welcome Home signs. They are the best part of coming back from a trip. They show us that love means taking care of each other. A pet’s love can be as simple as daily affection: licking our faces, purring at our feet, and always being there when you come home.
I think The Oatmeal said this better.
I’d love to hear about some of your pets! Leave a story in a comment below.