Op-Ed: Pleasurable Pets

By Sheila Gilmore —

They were all cuddled up together in a laundry basket in our kitchen. Finally, content with their bellies filled. Leilani and I breathed a sigh of relief and began cleaning up the implements; washing the tiny baby bottles and the mixing jar.

A few days earlier, our next door neighbor called us. She had found a litter of four tiny kittens abandoned under an old door in their back yard. Thinking they were our cat's kittens, she asked us about them. They weren't ours, but because we can't resist the chance to take care of babies (no matter what kind), we said we would take them.

Their mother must have either left them or been killed because she had not come back to them. We began bottle feeding them with a formula recipe that we'd found on the internet.

After our own dinner that evening, we all grabbed a kitten to cuddle. Ralph took the fuzzy gray one. Leila snatched up the black one she called Shadow. Holly snuggled the calico, and I claimed the little lame gray one, Tiny Tim. We all plopped down on our comfy couches in the living room and watched a couple of shows on Netflix.

Every few minutes one of us was saying to the others, “Quick! Look at this one! Isn't he cute!” and “Listen to him purr!”

God knew exactly what He was doing when He created the animals and gave us dominion over them. He gave all living things to us for our benefit. When reading Genesis, it is quite easy to imagine only the animals that give us food, work for us, or provide clothing. We don't often think of the little creatures that just give us pure pleasure.

Studies have shown the pet owners have lower blood pressure, seem happier and recover from illnesses sooner. In fact, there are hospitals around the country that have “Dog Nurses” who come and comfort hospital patients and ill children because the doctors know that just giving them the opportunity to touch a dog can help patients do better after being sick.

Recently, I read a story about a dog that helped people relax in an airport while they awaited their flights. He and his owner walked the halls and allowed weary travelers scratch his ears. After the encounter, these business men, families and military recruits were less grumpy and were more patient with their wait.

Animals are incredible. They are God's way of putting a little piece of Himself on earth within reach. It's no wonder that they can do us so much good; even the little fuzzy ones that just cuddle and look cute. If they make us giggle and feel loved, then they have done the job God designed them to do.

Our job is only to be responsible for them; to take care of them and make sure that we give them a little pleasure, too. Most domesticated animals cannot get food or water for themselves, cannot take themselves for a walk or heal themselves of any sickness. Nor can they keep from passing a disease along to us if they have one that can be transmitted. They depend upon their owners for their every need.

They depend upon us to keep them safe.

The absolute BEST way to keep our animals free from harm and disease, especially dogs, is to keep them at home. Just as we wouldn't allow our toddler to wander the neighborhood by himself, we shouldn't let our dog wander either. Not only do they have the mentality below that of a two-year old, they also have no concept of boundaries and can “claim” territory that is not theirs making them a danger to humans who walk or play along the streets.

You might think, “Aww…I hate to keep the dog cooped up like that.” However, like us, dogs enjoy having their own territory to rule and their own family in which to belong. Every time your dog leaves your yard, you put him in danger – of getting hit by a car, contracting a disease, or worse, harming a neighbor or their pet. (not to mention the 275 pounds of pooh that your neighbor does NOT want in his yard that year.)

I feel so sad when I see dogs who perpetually wander the streets. They remind me of street urchins who are constantly in trouble. It's only a matter of time before they join a gang and become dangerous.

Do your four-legged family members a big favor: keep them at home. Don't let your pet become the neighborhood nuisance. Your neighbors will like you better. You and your dog will be safer. You will enjoy them more.