Happy National Pet Day, everybody! I hope you and your dogs, cats, gerbils, hamsters, ferrets, exotic fish, birds, pot-bellied pigs, bunnies, snakes, lizards and geckos are having a blast.
My apologies to anyone I omitted. It was an honest mistake. In the interest of full disclosure, I didn’t even know today is National Pet Day until I saw the topic trending on Twitter.
And as for Eli… Well, let’s just say he’s completely oblivious. And that’s probably a good thing. He’s demanding enough as it is.
The Significance of National Pet Day
From what I gather, this is a relatively new holiday… or more accurately, a new pseudo-holiday. You can read more about it here.
The website also features a message from the founder. And if you’re in need of last-minute ideas, there’s a whole list of different ways you can celebrate. They’re all great suggestions, and the best part is, a lot of the ideas are things you can — and in my humble opinion, should — do throughout the year.
Personally, I make it a point to volunteer at a local animal shelter once a week — and more often than that when I can. Even though I volunteer in an administrative capacity and don’t have much direct contact with the dogs there, it’s something I enjoy. It feels good to know I’m contributing — even in a small way — to an organization committed to finding great homes for unwanted dogs and cats.
The Best Cats In The Known Universe
One thing I’ve never done is gotten a cat from a pet store or breeder. And I never will. There are too many cats and kittens in shelters that need a good home. There are so many that one person can’t possibly save them all, but together we can make a difference.
The way I see it, I’ve already saved three.
First there was Tiger. She was the cat that my mom agreed to take when some family friends moved to Saudi Arabia. She was supposed to stay with just us long enough to eradicate the mice in our house and then she was going to the pound. That’s what Mom said. But I’m an only child and I was 10 when we got the little Siamese-American Domestic Short Hair cross. Once I fell in love with her, there was no turning back. Tiger became the family peacemaker, my best friend and constant companion for 17 years. She purred, kneaded my legs and died peacefully in my lap at age 20.
Then there was Heals. Named after New York Islanders, Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Glenn Healy, she was a big orange and white tabby with a cheerful disposition and indomitable spirit. Some friends found her wandering around their neighborhood, but no one claimed her and they couldn’t keep her. So I took her. And like Tiger before her, Heals quickly became my best friend. In 11 years together, we got through my father’s death, my divorce, and relocation to Virginia. She died of cancer in September, 2007.
And now I’ve got Eli. My sweet baby boy. My “pit bull in a cat costume.” I fell in love with him when I saw his picture on a Fauquier SPCA poster a couple of weeks after I came home from Australia in February 2008. Being a big New York Giants fan, I knew I had to have a cat named Eli. When the sun came out on the day I decided to adopt him, and it came out again on the day I brought him home, I knew I made the right decision. The buff and white short hair-mix is by far the smartest of the three — and by far the most sensitive. I love him more than life and I hope we’re together for a long time.
Then again, I know nothing lasts forever. I know when Eli’s time comes — whenever that may be — it will be hard to say good-bye. I’ll need time to grieve, and time to heal. And then, when the time is right, a new cat will come into my life. There’s no doubt I’ll love him — or her. And there’s no doubt I’ll get unconditional love in return.
And that makes it all worthwhile.