Indebted to Pets

It’s a good time to be a pet.

We spend substantial sums to feed, care for, entertain, and yes, infrequently and awkwardly, clothe them. Some are pampered at spas while others find themselves at pet hotels for a few days, perhaps working on a long-delayed novel.

Befitting their place at center stage, our pets are stars of social media. What proportion of engagement dashboards are due to furry creatures? How many views, clicks, likes, and faves are due to their ridiculous cuteness and adorable antics? With emoji, we can converse via tiny animals.

Our own treasured pet is an orange tabby named Mango who is approaching her 15th birthday. When my wife's phone recently complained of low space, a confession followed: "Well, I do have a lot of pictures of Mango on here." I’m convinced that my son makes room in his schedule for FaceTime conversations primarily to see Mango obliviously meow at the screen.

They're cute and entertaining, defenders of our homesteads and generally lovable, but why do pets consume so much of our attention?

Pets remind us of priorities that are easy to lose sight of in our harried lives. The things they care about are simple and essential: food, sleep, play, companionship, shelter, sunshine. And day after day, they find joy in these. As funny as it sounds, they are present in moment. I like to imagine animals discussing the concept of multitasking. "But why wouldn't you just do the single most important thing at the moment until another most important thing comes along?"

They don't care what others think of them, except for the few people that truly matter. They're not endlessly chasing the unattainable (usually).

Finally, they're steadfast. Your status doesn't fluctuate by the hour. They are free of judgment and unconditional in their love (stop laughing, cat owners).

Pets are wonderful in endless ways, including the way they wordlessly remind us to take deep breaths and enjoy where we are and who we're with. And to take more naps.