In 2003, my parents brought a Shetland Sheepdog home and promptly proceeded to name him Alpha (as he was the first dog we had). He instantly became the family favourite and everyone’s attention was on him. I never thought much about it then, as it was my parents decision to have a dog. Over the years, I viewed Alpha as a furry brother rather than a pet.
Born with a tri-coloured, thick fur coat and wolf-like upright ears, he was quite the magnet, and all loved him.
A dog can sense your energy level and respond. I remember I was feeling lousy one day, and he just walked over and laid next to me. I did nothing except to give him a nice tummy rub for a good 5 minutes and proceeded to give him a big hug which prompted him to slobber all over my face. Those were the truly the times I felt I had a connection with Alpha. Once, we were out for dinner, and Alpha would sneak into the toilet in defiance and mess around with our laundry or trash bin. When we came home, we found him with his head stuck in the cover of the bin which would have made #1 for Animal Fails. It was such a hilarious scene that I totally forgot to take a picture.
However, he belonged to my parents, as they cared for his every need and want – while I stepped in as temporary caretaker if they were out of town. Therefore he wasn’t really mine, so to speak, as his loyalty laid with my parents. I can’t tell whether it’s a 50-50 thing though – my mum does the feeding while my dad does the training.
Nevertheless, I always thought of myself as a dog person. I wasn’t afraid of cats, but they always looked thoroughly reserved and in their own world, that I hesitated to interact with them much. I got scratched a few times before by a friend’s cat too. I know it’s going to be hard for me to have my own dog as they need quite a bit of attention. I never would have thought in a million years that I would have a cat. There’s always a lot of hearsay about cats being serial destroyers of furniture, jumping off through unsecured windows, getting stuck on trees, and walking all over your keyboard when you’re working.
My wife and I went to Mutts and Mittens, a community that offers boarding and shelter for rescued animals to take a look and understand the notion of adoption vs buying pets. I decided that if we wanted a pet it has to fulfill these criteria:
- It has to suit our schedule. It’s just evil getting a dog and find out you have no time for them.
- It has to suit our energy level. A puppy or kitten would require a lot more energy in taking care and playing with them.
- It has to be through adoption. There are so many of them poor things out there, the least I could do is to provide a good home and care, and save a life.
I realised that through this criteria, I set myself up nicely to become a cat owner. Suddenly, out of the corner, we saw Harry, a two-year old domestic shorthair who was rescued from euthanasia. I don’t know how to describe it, but I felt an instant connection with Harry when I carried him in my arms. He had very big, attractive round eyes and was not afraid of strangers. My wife also had the same exact feeling, and we planned to adopt Harry.
It only took a day before Harry found his way around the house, and made it his own. And more cuteness was to follow.
Of course, we take the good, and also the bad.
But I guess that’s the exact thing about having pets. You love them no matter what. Dog person, cat person; it’s very much a perceived choice one made at certain points of their life, through interaction with that certain animal. If you think you are a dog person, it may be that you haven’t had any opportunities to spend good quality time, observe and experience having a feline around. If you think you are a cat person, you really haven’t felt how much joy a mutt can bring, and how it will never forsake you.
Let us know what pet you have, and how it makes you feel as an owner. Leave your comments below, and adopt, don’t shop.