Sunday, December 27, 2015

The best gift of all

What could be better than the gift of love on Christmas? Pure, unadulterated, unconditional love that's poured out onto you at any time of the day, whether you're feeling happy or down. Wondering what date site to go on to find such love? No need, just adopt a pet.

I have to admit that I always thought of myself as a dog person. These creatures are really man's best friend, ready with a friendly woof and wagging tail when you come home. The pooches seem to pick up on your mood - they are ever ready to play when you are feeling frisky or just hunker down and be quietly by your side when you're feeling lonely. They can lend a paw to gently rest on your leg, or lay their head on your lap to be scratched. My friend, F's labrador Billy gamely allows her to drag him around on his two hind legs when she dances about the living room with him.

When my son, B, was little, we had a little silky terrier whom B named John (a very unlikely name for a dog). We had to let my brother take John over when the apartment we were living in was proving too small for a dog. John went on to win many obedience training trophies, beating out much larger dogs. He was as fearless as he was intelligent, an adorable little bundle of joy.

I always thought of cats as the anti-dog, very into themselves and not at all companionable. The cats I encountered would just stare at me disdainfully as if to say "So why should I even bother with you?" It didn't help that my neighbor's cat clawed me once when I hurried past her down the stairs.

Nom Nom's a real sweetheart!
My misconceptions about cats were blown away when I met Nom Nom, B's cat whom he adopted from the SPCA. (B comes up with the oddest names for his pets!) He told me that she had been rescued from the streets and was quite fearful of strangers. But when I entered his apartment by myself, calling out to her, she came ever so willingly and immediately started head-butting my leg.

Over the next few days, Nom Nom warmed up to me, and was quite willing to sit quietly beside me on the couch, placing her paw gently on my lap and head-butting me occasionally. I couldn't quite believe that B could get her to sit when he held out a treat to her. I thought only dogs could be taught tricks, but when I tried it, she also sat for me.

Nom Nom now has the run of B's apartment, and endeared herself to everyone who has gotten to know her. Somehow, she has wormed her way into my heart. Over the years, I've known many dogs who have been faithful companions to my friends, and now this circle of beloved pets also includes Nom Nom.

So this Christmas, consider adopting a pet yourself. You'll be rewarded with years of wonderful companionship and comforting presence. That warm, fuzzy feeling is truly priceless. Isn't that why God created dogs (and cats)?

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