sharing a life with animals

Young child with cat | Sharing a life with animals
Posted by Morris Animal Foundation on May 09 2014

Although I am a veterinarian and have devoted my life to helping animals around the world, I actually couldn’t have pets when I was growing up. I wanted one (or more accurately a dozen), but my mother was very allergic to animal dander. She always regretted us not having pets, but it was just not something we could manage.

The idea of what pet ownership entailed where I grew up in rural north Florida in the 1970s was much different from what we consider normal now. Back then, dogs were usually not allowed inside, and cats were often left outside to fend for themselves.

We have come a long way since those days, and I would argue that science and veterinary medicine should get some of the credit. After all, effective flea and tick control, internal parasite control and convenient high-quality food are often cited as primary factors that have allowed animals to move from the backyard to the bedroom.

Data from Morris Animal Foundation’s Golden Retriever Lifetime Study indicate that 78 percent of dogs enrolled in the study sleep in their owner’s bedroom. Of those, nearly one-quarter sleep in their owner’s bed. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t happen if we didn’t have effective ways to keep fleas and ticks off our pets (and out of our bedrooms.)

I grew up wishing for an animal companion and eventually fulfilled my dream of not only having pets but of being able to devote all of my professional energy to helping them. I became a veterinarian, fell in love with the scientific method, fell in love with managing groups of people and, most of all, fell even deeper in love with animals.

They bring me limitless joy. There is nothing more serene than an older dog, nothing more inquisitive and fun than a kitten just venturing out into the world, and nothing more calming than the presence of a horse moving smoothly through a barn in complete control of his 1,200 pounds of muscle and spirit.

Being a pet parent means receiving so much joy, but it also requires that we understand the unique needs of our companions, so we can take appropriate care of them. Animals don’t always tell us when they’re feeling ill. Even when it is obvious that they are hurting, finding the source of the problem can be agonizing and frustrating. Luckily, with the help of groups like Morris Animal Foundation, veterinary medicine is filling our knowledge gaps and finding ways to help our perfect little companions enjoy longer, healthier lives. The future is looking very bright for pet parents everywhere.

To learn how you can create a brighter tomorrow for animals around the world, sign up for Morris Animal Foundation’s eNewsletter.