Animal People and the Pets Who Love Them

It's funny how some people don't care much for animals, especially the idea of having them as pets, etc., while others cannot see themselves without a pet of some sort in their lives. I am an animal person, and so is everyone else in my family. To be honest, I don't fully trust people who don't like animals. I feel they have a hollow place in their souls. It isn't that I don't like people who don't care for animals. I just have my reservations about them.

People who are not animal people miss out on what it means to love something that has the capacity to love you back far more than any other creature on Earth. Besides that, they are entertaining to an unbelievable degree.

Dee and I can spend much of an evening just watching our dog Bailey playing. He could be chasing a stick we've thrown or carrying the large one he seems to have adopted, tossing himself a ball in a game of his own devising, or pouncing on his "kong," a rubber, cone-shaped toy that has the tendency to bounce more unpredictably than a football. He will pounce on it as if it were alive and trying to escape, carry it a few feet, jerk his head upwards to toss it into the air, watch it eagerly as it bounces a few times, and then pounce on it again to start the process over. He will do this for quite a long time. And what animal lover hasn't laughed out loud at a dog trying to figure out a mirror?

Bailey also watches TV. He is especially fond of "The Dog Channel," a channel created for--you guessed it--dogs. Loops of images like dogs playing, people walking dogs . . . anything that might catch the interest of one of our canine friends. Occasional sounds like a whistling person or a squeaking toy calls to them from the TV speakers, helping to engage their rather intelligent brains. I can attest that these images and sounds work.

We also own a horse, Butter, a thoroughbred race horse, who is now retired from running races and is a frequent competitor in equine competitions of the "Hunter-Jumper" variety. Butter is really Dee's, since you could fit what I know about horses into something shorter than the length of this blog thus far, but I still love this horse. She is gentle, smart, and seems to enjoy me as well. Perhaps she likes me because I never climb onto her back. Who knows? But we enjoy her, though she never plays with any rubber toys. She has won ribbons, including five in a competition today when she moved "up in class" to, well, another class. This indicates the jumps, etc., are more difficult.

When I met Dee, she had two dogs and two cats. She even mentioned that if we were to do more than meet once, I would have to understand she loves animals. When we married, I brought another cat, Smokey, into this entertaining menagerie. These animals have all since died or been mercifully put to sleep, along with the three other dogs and one horse we've had at various times since we met, and I am certain they await us in Heaven. In fact, I am of the belief that if there are no animals in Heaven, then Heaven doesn't exist. I use the logic that if Heaven is a place in which I will spend eternity in total bliss, then animals must inhabit this realm as well because bliss would be impossible without the love and companionship animals provide. In fact, I feel God supplies mankind with pets to demonstrate to us what absolute love looks like.

I suppose this topic is on my mind because two dogs belonging to people I am close to have recently been "put down" to end their suffering after many years of their happy lives. I am aware that the two families have been hit hard by this, and I sympathize completely. In the past two years, we have sent three of our beloved dogs away until we meet again in that state of eternal bliss.

So, if you are not an animal person, you are missing something that only those of us who love our pets can understand. Our animals we no longer have are always somewhere in my heart. With this in mind, I raise a symbolic toast of "To Those Who Are at Sea" to the following animals. (It is a traditional, family toast we always offer, which is made in honor of those who cannot be there for whatever reason.) I am listing only those animals who graced the lives of Dee and me, as well as our daughters, since the day I met Dee. There are many others whom I loved before that, as well as those of friends and family, but there is such a thing as overkill):

The dogs who are gone: Pops, Cody, Huntley, Speckles, Hamilton, Brinkley, Quinn, and Casey

The cats who are gone: Klinky, Klung, and Smokey

The horse who is gone: Patty

And all of the pets who have touched the lives of my extended family and friends.

So join me, if you will. . . . TO THOSE WHO ARE AT SEA!