, Port Arthur, Texas


October 14, 2013

Treat furry friends like family

PORT ARTHUR — "The only creatures that are evolved enough to convey pure love are dogs and infants."

— Johnny Depp

As the owner of three dogs, I'm here to confirm that statement. At 10 years old, my basset hound Bessie does very little — not that she was a bundle of energy in her heyday, being a basset — but she's never too tired to roll over onto her back to provide easier access for a belly rub. Seamus, my disturbingly intelligent chocolate Labrador, lives his life under the assumption that EVERYONE is his friend. My boisterous female chocolate Lab, Daisy, will jump into your lap whether she's known you five months or five minutes — a trait I would find more endearing if she weighed less than 70 lbs.

I've been accused of preferring dogs to people, and if you're hoping for a counter-argument to that allegation, you'll find none in this column.  I could quote every cliche in existence about dog being man's best friend, but it would most likely result in missing deadline and/or developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

I will say, it is a privilege to own a dog. It's no easy task, but it's nearly always a rewarding one — because I guarantee you, no human will ever greet you at the end of the day with such exuberance. The moment I walk through the door, I am the center of my dogs' world. There is nowhere else they would rather be, no other face they'd rather see than my own.

That's why passing stray, emaciated dogs on the street ignites in me a fury I can't articulate. Living, breathing creatures cast out of their homes because their existence was too inconvenient for someone — and that someone, that miserable echo of a human being, decided to transfer their burden onto shoulders not meant to bear it.

There are a number of adoption shelters in Jefferson County that are more than happy to clean up your mess, if you are indeed someone who has neglected, abused or altogether abandoned your dog. They do admirable work, but they shouldn't have to do it.

I do not write this column as a persuasive tactic to convince you to volunteer at an animal shelter or adopt a dog — although by all means do, if you feel so inclined. No, pet owners, I speak directly to you. Do not take this task lightly. I've heard owning a puppy compared to having a child on more than one occasion. Being childless, I can't say whether that's true, but I can say that pet ownership is nothing to sneeze at — unless, of course, you’re allergic, but if you knew that when you became an owner, you have only yorself to blame.

In all sincerity, pets require sacrifices, and if you are unwilling or unable to make them, do not bring an animal into your home. It is that simple.

And should you find yourself with a pet that you can't properly care for, it is up to you to make other arrangements. It is not their fault. It is yours. Make the right call, or you'll have me to answer to.

And bear in mind — I prefer dogs to people.


Twitter: @ErinnPA

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