Some Best Friends Have Four Feet
Mar 31, 2015 11:00PM
● By Larry Richert
Ever since dogs were domesticated thousands of years ago, there has been a strong bond between man and beast that is still very much a part of our culture. How much a part? According to the American Pet Products Association, people will spend a mind-blowing $60 billion dollars on their pets this year.
In spite of all that love, there are many people who end up abandoning or neglecting these animals, which is where a dedicated group of individuals come in—people who care daily for these animals and try to reconnect people with homeless pets.
In Allegheny County, there are many agencies who are devoted to this kind of work, including the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center, and Animal Friends, along with many smaller shelters and rescue groups. These are the people who see the best and worst in both human and animal kind. They have their share of heartbreak, as well as moments of great joy whenever they are successful in placing pets in loving, forever homes.
For 12 years early in our marriage, my wife and I had a golden retriever named Jem. Cindi and I decided to get a dog after going through a parade of turtles, tropical fish, hamsters, and an ‘incident’ with a rabbit. Since we both had dogs growing up, we decided that after our youngest was out of diapers, we would finally get a dog because we wanted to make sure that our kids had that kind of experience.
Jem was everything that you could hope for in a pet; she even helped our son overcome his fear of dogs. When Jem passed, it was tough on the kids, and my wife really felt the loss, too. A number of times, we were close to getting a new dog, but somehow it just didn't feel right. Ironically, as time passed and social media began flourishing, my wife started getting photos sent to her on her cell phone from her friend Mary at the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center. This went on for a while and every time a photo would pop up she would say to me, "Aww, look how sweet."
I would smile and say, "Are you sure?"
Two years ago, Cindi sent me a photo of a dog that needed a home. A 2-year-old golden mix that looked so forlorn, I knew that she was the one for our family…and the rest is history. I have often joked that Kobe is like having a deer loose in the house. She has created chaos and yet is one of the most loving creatures that any of us has ever known. Cindi talks to her and loves on her and we now can't imagine our home without her. If you can open your heart and home to a dog or cat, you just might find your new best friend.
It’s nice to know that I rank at least second, (if I’m lucky) on my wife’s best friend list!