Here’s What it Means to Love a Pet

The other day I woke up to the wet slap of our cat’s tongue on my face. And I started thinking: just when and how did this four-pawed invasion occur? When did I start sleeping on the edge of my mattress so our pets could sprawl out? How did that damn toy chest filled with squeaky rodents and rubber chew rings earn a prominent place in the living room? When did whole drawers in the kitchen, bathroom and pantry become pet product storage spaces? Why does the dog ride shotgun while the kids sit in back?

I used to believe that dog sweaters were silly and people who treated their pets like people were a bit out of touch. Then I met Carlo, a skinny black Chihuahua with ears like little teepees and a loud mouth like… well, a Chihuahua. He was not the first dog I ever loved, but he came into my life at a time when my heart was open — mostly because it was broken. With my two boys in tow, I’d finally garnered the courage to leave a toxic relationship and trade my snow boots for sandals in an entirely different state–a place I’d never even visited. It was bold as hell and scarier than anything I’d ever done (aside from marriage at 18 to a bad-tempered pretty boy).

I’d left a steady paycheck in healthcare to pursue a less lucrative career in freelance writing. Some nights I stared at the ceiling and wondered if it might come crashing down on me. The weight of everything from bills to broken toys seemed to loom overhead. But Carlo was a wonderful distraction. He demanded my attention, gave me a reason to step away from my keyboard and into the sun. With frequent walks and tummy rubs (his, not mine– ha ha), we both felt better. And sleeping alone in the dark was far less daunting with my little black loudmouth on duty.

What’s more, I was no longer consumed with cheering up my still-adjusting boys after longs days at their new school. They were happy to come home to Carlo, who seemed to hear the school bus from a mile away. Nose pressed against the patio door, he couldn’t wait to get a whiff of them, and they of him (little boys love bad smells).

But Carlo is not the only pet we’ve made a member of our family. We also have two cats that have claimed us. At 13 years old, Rocco’s the four-pawed patriarch here. I’d say he belongs to my son, but I think it’s the other way around. It’s amazing to see the way they bond. So in honor of the pets we love to love, here’s a little poem of appreciation.

Cat Speak

The slap of his wet-gravel tongue on my forehead

pulled me from a dream.

I reached up and found him,

fingertips probing the velvet space between his ears.

Purr…

the slow rumbling quake of contentment,

cat-speak.  

I speak back in smiles.

Have you loved an animal? Let your soul find a true friend in one today. 

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ~ Anatole France

 

29 Comments
  • Klaudia
    March 3, 2016

    Oh my god …. you should see that big happy smile on my face now . Me , as a crazy chihuahua mom , what should I say ?! Take it the chihuahua way , no words required …a fantastic post , thank you for that I love it . Will tell my chi king about now ! Best wishes from GiGi & me .

    • Rica Lewis
      March 3, 2016

      Awww, thanks Klaudia! Glad you enjoyed the post. We should start a Chi fan club — but we’d have to get approval from our pups first. 🙂

  • Jayne
    March 3, 2016

    Oh, I so agree, I have 2 german shepherds and 1 Persian cat. Can’t imagine life without them. I’m sharing this with a few no pet friends I have.

    • Rica Lewis
      March 3, 2016

      Awesome, Jayne. I was hoping this post would help some non-pet lovers see our side. Perhaps they’ll be open to the privilege of loving an animal. Thanks for reading and sharing!

  • Crystal // Dreams, etc.
    March 3, 2016

    Love this! Pets definitely add joy to life. 🙂

  • Sheryl
    March 4, 2016

    Animals are therapists in their own right and provide a love and support like no other. Wonderful post and so very true.

    • Rica Lewis
      March 4, 2016

      So true, Sheryl. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Dom
    March 7, 2016

    I loved this post. What a great read. I had to give up my little cat buddy Jones last spring as I developed a cat allergy. What a bummer. I miss him every day.

    • Rica Lewis
      March 7, 2016

      Ohh, So sorry, Dom. But I’m glad you got to enjoy some time with Buddy, however brief. Thanks for the kind comment.

  • Vivi
    March 7, 2016

    Hahaha i was just thinking that the other day – that my dog, nay my baby, has taken over every part of my life. And it’s great 🙂

  • krystle cook
    March 7, 2016

    We love our three cats. My son has to sleep with one of them every night. If he can’t find her he complains he can’t sleep.

    • Rica Lewis
      March 8, 2016

      Sounds about right! My son has a chair for the cat to sit in while he plays video games. You should see the two of them “hanging out.” Love it! Thanks for stopping in, Krystle.

  • Shannon
    March 7, 2016

    “I’d say he belongs to my son, but I think it’s the other way around.” I love that- oh how true!

    How they take over our hearts and they really do own us- after awhile. I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

    You are brave for leaving things that didn’t make you happy and fulfill you for things less “guaranteed”- life is about being happy and I hope you are now happy!

  • Anna Palmer
    March 9, 2016

    I have a small corner of the bed left. I relate to all of this!

    • Rica Lewis
      March 9, 2016

      Ha ha, so why are you complaining, Anna? A small corner is sufficient! LOL. Thanks for stopping in.

  • Corinne Rodrigues
    March 10, 2016

    I can so relate! Our two dogs totally run our lives!

    • Rica Lewis
      March 10, 2016

      Ha ha! That’s awesome, Corinne! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Carol Cassara
    March 30, 2016

    The edge of the mattress thing? Yeah. Me, too. I love my dog, Riley and have loved so many pets over the years. I can’t imagine not having them.

    • Rica Lewis
      March 30, 2016

      I’m sure Riley loves you just the same. Aren’t they amazing little brats? Thanks for reading and commenting, Carol.

  • Margaretha (Equine Guided MD)
    March 30, 2016

    One of our horses has decided he prefers the front lawn to his field. Next thing it will be the front porch and then…probably the largest sofa in the lounge. If he can convince the dog to get off, that is. Ruled by our animals? Oh no, we are in full control of everything. Everyone, I mean.

    • Rica Lewis
      March 30, 2016

      That sounds about right, Margaretha! And I’m betting you wouldn’t have it any other way! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  • Anna Palmer
    April 20, 2016

    Yes! I only have a sliver of the bed. My husband and I met at the dog park when we each had a dog and two cats (his girls, mine boys we were the furry brady bunch) It was BUSY. I am so happy to hear how much comfort and love Carlo (et al) have offered your boys.

    • Rica Lewis
      April 20, 2016

      Thank you, Anna! Carlo is beyond spoiled, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s interesting that you met your husband at the dog park! Way to snag a man! Ha ha. I am definitely more attracted to people who care for animals. It’s just another great thing to bond over. Glad you stopped in, Anna. Thanks for commenting.

  • Faye
    April 21, 2016

    THIS! We have a tiny furball who licks, runs, plays, and generally just brings us back down to earth and reminds us to live in the moment. Don’t know what we would do without her!

    • Rica Lewis
      April 21, 2016

      Awwww! I know what you mean, Faye! Thanks for stopping in.!

  • Molly Stevens
    May 17, 2016

    We have had two incredible dogs that we said goodbye to in 2010 and most recently in 2015. It is worth the pain to have loved them and I miss them every day. Right now we are a pet free home, but I know we will welcome another animal into our home in the future. It is wrought with grief when you bid adieu but so worth it. This is a lovely post.

    • Rica Lewis
      May 17, 2016

      Thank you, Molly. My aunt just lost her fur baby of 16 years, and I know she’s in tremendous pain grieving the loss of her companion. I wish we had more time with our pets, but thankfully there are so many of them in need of loving homes and humans. I appreciate your comment. 🙂

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