When all of the problems are solved, what remains is pure pleasure, the development of a true bond between human and animal. How many people do you know who have a real friendship with their pets? Just as a married couplegrows together over the years, so do a boy and his dog, or an elderly couple and their cat, or a large sprawling family of eight and their menagerie of two dogs, three cats, a couple of birds and a gerbil.
Why do people have pets? For companionship, of course, and for amusement, and for everything that animals teach us about play and work—simple things we may have forgotten along our frenzied paths toward success in both family and career. This wasn’t the case forty years ago—then, pets were more a part of the background, a piece of scenery, something you got for the kids. But today, that’s all changed. People tend to be closer to the dog or cat they share a life with, and for good reason. Animals know thisgs that we don’t; if we watch them and listen to them closely, we can learn a great deal. Love and tenderness are only a small portion of what pets offer us. They often can teach us a lot about our own anxieties, fears, and hopes, and they make us smile.
There is a certain delight that appears in an animal’s face when he knows he finally is accepted. The very best relationships I have seen between pets and owners over the years are those between “difficult” pets—the fear-biters, the delinquents, the problem eaters and chewers, the hooligans and the depressed mopes that had no desire to do anything—who came around and the owners who honestly cared enough to give the very best. If you love animals, if you crave the amazing bond that can exist when you take a pet into your home, you will understand that it doesn’t matter what kind of dog or cat you adopt or what shape he is in when you get him. What matters is what happens slowly and gradually between the two of you over months and years of working and living together.