I can say with no hesitation that having a dog or a cat living as a part of one’s family can be both wonderful … and frustrating. First, we have to understand they are not human, even though many people treat them that way. Our family experience in this regard goes back a long way. Multiple dogs and cats. Sadly, the closer we become to them, the harder it is to deal with their departure … to Pet Heaven. By far our favorite breed of dogs is the Alaska Malamute. First we had a male, Nikki. He lived a good life, and lived with us while we were in the Army and afterwards, including a tour in West Germany. Second and perhaps Barb’s overall favorite dog, was our female Malamute Mystee.
Mystee in her prime weighed between 75-100 pounds, and was a great partner with me on my daily jogs, out front on her lease leading the way, just like a good sled dog her breed can become. Nikki, being a male, was a more robust runner. I recall him leading the way on jogs up to ten miles each. He seemed never to tire, although I knew he was, tongue hangout out after we stopped. Shortly after Nikki passed away, we got Mystee as a very cute and furry puppy. As she aged, so did her legs. As did mine. So for many years we walked our neighborhood daily instead of jogging the same route. She loved to go. Walk or jog. It became a habit for her and for me. Then her rear legs eventually gave out, and she couldn’t go. That condition got worse, eventually leading to the tough decision to have her put to sleep. It was a sad day. Now, for us, it’s cats. We have two. One sleeps close beside me at night. Every night. This is Lucy.
She’s the best cat we’ve had. Friendly to everyone, loving, and often demanding of attention. She can literally “stare me down” when she wants something. I’ve learned mostly what that can be. Food, fresh water, treats, or nice belly rubbing. She’s a great comfort to me.
So what have I learned from all this. Pets are cool. Pets are funny. Pets are fun. True, they often have accidents in the house of various sorts, but like I wrote above, they are “pets” and not human, so we can’t expect them to always act like we “think” they ought to. But, mostly I have learned that as we age, and become afflicted with various health issues, and become less active (like jogging), we can be comforted by having a pet or two around.