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Pets aren't possessions, they're family

Hi!  I'm Gabrielle, a 20 something North Dakotan mom with a passion for writing and health.  I fought my self proclaimed "bad genetics" and lost over 100 lbs after being obese my entire adult life!  I now share my passion with others and...

I don't 'own' my pets, they're my family

I have seen many people treat animals like possessions in my day, and it never gets less frustrating. Seeing a living, breathing, feeling animal being treated like a disposable object hurts me to the core. Growing up, I had a lot of pets. My dog always ran to the neighbor dog’s yard and blessed us with litter after litter of sweet little puppies. Each and every time, I helped raise each dog until they were ready to go to new homes, and I cared for every single one as much as the last. When a new loving family came to adopt one as their own, I felt a little piece of my heart go with every puppy.

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I know I’m not the only one who has found a stray and brought it home with the hopes that I could keep it as my own. It hurts my heart to see a sad and lonely animal in the wild, with no safe place to call home. I have always been able to strongly connect with animals, and somehow I thought I could tell what they were thinking, and feel the same feelings. While that may or may not have been true, I would get very emotional when I saw an animal in pain or left behind.

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Family members didn’t always understand, or seem to care as much as I did about our dogs. It seemed like they were always willing to get rid of them if they weren’t absolutely perfect. If a dog barked too much, they wanted to throw in the towel instead of understanding why they were barking, and trying to solve the problem. Our dog, Bailey, barks at the doorbell on the TV now, and I can’t tell you how annoying that is. However, that doesn’t mean that she is “broken” and deserves to be treated that way. We may get frustrated when she goes crazy over a car door down the street in the middle of the night, but there is nothing that could take away the love that we hold for her. She is a member of our family, and always will be.

I think the main problem is that so many people get blinded by the cute, cuddly kittens and puppies, without realizing one day it will go away. Sure, they always stay cute, but they will get bigger and the “new” feeling will eventually fade away. If you don’t think you have what it takes to put in the work and own up to the responsibilities that owning a pet entails, please don’t do it. You may not realize it, but it breaks their hearts, too, when they get close to a family, only to be given away when times get tough. These animals can love with all they have, and they feel sadness just like you and I.

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If you aren’t willing to give up any lifestyle that won’t mesh well with having a pet, please don’t do it. We both work full time, so that means that Bailey is home alone some weeks all day by herself. This means that we have to make sure that we make the time to stop by periodically to visit her and let her go to the bathroom while we are at work. That means that I can’t spend my lunch break gallivanting around town, because I have someone at home depending on me to realize her needs. Once you get home and are greeted at the door with so much love and excitement, you will understand how it is totally worth it.

Please, before you take the huge leap of adding another member to your family, make sure you know what you are signing up for. Having a pet is just as much work as having a child, and they need you just as much. Animals have feelings and needs like we do, and they don’t always have the means to express their feelings to us. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to do your best. I guarantee your pet will love you with all they have regardless, so just make sure you are giving them your best as well.

Gabrielle blogs at My Life on a Whim.

This post was originally published on BlogHer.

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