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Caring for your Pets

If you have read my columns, you are familiar with our dog Carly, a Cavachon (a mix between a Bichon Frise and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel).  She is so cute.  She looks like a stuffed animal that’s come to life.  She is smart and clever and rules our household quite efficiently.  You see, we’re certain that she can tell time because she gets our attention as the clock approaches breakfast, lunch, and dinner times.  Carly is also smart enough to understand our conversations–especially when we talk about going for a walk.

You see, she’s not just a pet—she’s part of our family.  So are our “grand dogs and cats” which include a Great Dane named Charlie Brown, two cats, Linus and Snowflake who live in Tupelo.  Then there are two poodles, Anna and Hazel who live in Arkadelphia, Ark. 

These furry family members came to us because they left behind their birth mother and any siblings to live with us because we chose them.  That’s a huge sacrifice.  And they weren’t given a choice in the matter.  Our family members entered into these relationships knowing that it was for the lifetime of the pet.

So, why do others not honor this relationship commitment?  Why do some people feel that it’s quite all right just to dump their dogs or cats or abandon them, so they don’t have the responsibility of caring for these animals who are totally dependent upon them?  Or what about the family who decides that the pet no longer “fits” their family’s lifestyle and just simply leaves them at the already over-crowded animal shelter without another thought as to what happens to that pet.

I’m sure you’ve all seen the recent Maui wildfire disaster and the horrible death toll this monster fire left in its wake.  One report was of the gentleman who perished in the fire while trying to protect his beloved Golden Retriever.  Now that’s true love and ultimate sacrifice. 

I hope you will give serious consideration before getting a pet and be realistic about what is involved in having a pet that is totally dependent on you.  It will need to be fed, you must dispose of the pet waste, bathe and brush the pet, and take it to the veterinarian when it needs shots or should it become ill.  It is a huge time commitment, financial commitment, and should be an emotional commitment.  If you’re not ready for all of this, please don’t enter into a lifetime relationship that you’re not ready to honor.  It’s not fair to the innocent animal.

Our dog Carly would give any potential pet this advice:  Make sure your human family member understand your needs, is willing to make sacrifices of their time and convenience, and by all means, train them early as to what makes for a loving, reciprocal relationship.  She would also tell you that her humans are so grateful for the companionship and affection she provides.  In addition, she would tell you that they are grateful for her daily presence in their lives and that she knows she is well loved.  Just be responsible.


Bonnie Brown is a retired staff member of the University of Mississippi. She most recently served as Mentoring Coordinator for the Ole Miss Women’s Council for Philanthropy. For questions or comments, email her at bbrown@olemiss.edu.

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