Today is National Love Your Pet Day, and I, like many others, posted a photo of my pet -- my dog Ella -- on social media. After posting, I started to think about all the things my pets have helped me through over the years.
Ella came into our home in February of 2012, when she was around 4 years old, and already has been with us through so many changes.
At that time, I was married, my children were 5 and 3, and we already had another dog, along with five cats. My 12-year-old dog Greta had been put down a month before, after being diagnosed with lung cancer, and going downhill quickly.
That was a heartbreaker, and as a result, I did not open my heart to Ella right away. It did not take her that long to work her way into my good graces, however.
In October 2013, my pet family had to be downsized. I left my husband, and although I wanted to take all of the animals along, there are not a lot of rental options for a family with seven pets.
Two cats -- Fred and Ted -- were sent back to live with the ex, and when all the dust settled on several other traumatic events, another cat -- Ikey -- ended up with my mom and my other dog, Ollie, is still living with my brother.
I took Ella and my two oldest cats, Miles and Benny. They both passed away in October of last year. They were 16 and 15. They had been with me since the beginning of my “adult” life. It was sad, and even worse trying to explain it to two small children.
As I write this, Ella and I are hanging out watching TV. She was born to be a good friend. She does run away every chance she gets, but she has been returned every time, always with compliments about how sweet she is.
As much work as my pets were, and as frustrating as they can be, I have a hard time imagining a life without a cat or dog companion. I will never again have more than one or two at a time, but I feel like I would not know what to do without an animal around.
Ella is all I can handle for now, but I could never ask for a better dog for my kids, or me. I have never seen any pet who is so gentle, patient and kind, and I am thankful that I get to spend this national holiday with her.