Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Importance of a Family Pet

  
As far back as I can remember, my family had a dog. There was Babs, the English Setter, and Gretchen, the rescued Weimaraner. Then there was Greta, Gretchen's granddaughter who was with me the majority of my childhood.

Greta had a way about her that just made you laugh. She loved anyone who would throw a ball for her. She loved to go for a ride or a walk. She was a companion in every way. Greta was also a bit of a thief.

It all started when my father taught Greta to fetch the newspaper. Eager to please, Greta brought us the paper every day without fail. One day she decided that if one paper deserved an "atta girl" then surely 15 papers would be even better. No kidding, we came home and there must have been 15 newspapers in our carport. My family and I tried our best to see that the papers made their way back to the rightful owners. Every once in while, we received a call from a neighbor saying, "My paper was missing today. Do you happen to have an extra one?" The neighbors didn't seem to mind very much. You see, this was over 30 years ago when dogs roamed freely, getting into all kinds of mischief while people were at work and kids were at school. And boy did they.

Greta's thievery didn't stop there. She loved apples and would wait patiently by my mother, hoping for a bite. A nearby neighbor had an apple tree and it wasn't long before Greta found it. She began bringing apples home to my mother and dropping them at her feet. The silly dog could have eaten it herself, but insisted on sharing the experience with someone else - she was a companion after all. Greta brought home other things too. There was the 5 pound bag of Vidalia onions, the bag of clothespins, a man's girdle, some assorted clothing items of which we never found the owners. She even jumped into a UPS truck during a delivery. While on his route, the driver said that he heard a noise in the back of the truck and sure enough, it was Greta. Even the UPS driver new Greta's name and address.

Having a dog as a child brought so much joy to my life, and I can't imagine what life would have been like without her. Family pets teach children many things. Pets rely on us for food and shelter. They need to be walked, bathed, and boarded. They need to be let out so they can go to the bathroom. In return, pets give children unconditional love that sometimes parents have a hard time competing with.

Pets are a big commitment and aren't for everybody. They can be expensive, need special living conditions, and someone who really cares for them. If you are considering bringing a pet into your home, I urge you to do some research to make sure that it's a good fit for your family.

The other day while preparing for this post, I asked our boys why they like having a dog. One son responded, "People are boring sometimes." Our other son responded, "Mattie Gray has a great sense of humor." I couldn't agree more.
Mattie Gray (companion, co-editor, comedian, squirrel chaser)



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