On Thursday, My Italian greyhound Oliver will be turning eleven years old.A senior citizen in the dog kingdom:Gray hairs,liver spots,missing teeth,and the occasional senile senior moment. He will actually bark at pedestrians who wheel around brief cases or suitcases as a mistaken identity for a dog on a leash.
Oliver was a mere eight weeks old when I bought him to his new home. He was purchased from a local breeder and was one of two in a litter born in January of 2000. Oliver is in part one of the biggest responsibilities I've ever decided to take on. I was 25 years old and was new to my independent living and life style outside my parents home. In short: I was a young pup about to start raising a young pup.
The last thing the breeder told me as I left their house: "Congratulations! He will be yours for the next 15 years!"
"Whoa!", I thought....Oliver is going to be with me until I'm 40. Now, at 25, you never put a lot of thought into turning 40. This was a big event for me in such a way that it helps put into perspective the magnitude of importance of the decision of being a pet owner was.
Was I ready for this? Can I handle this? Ready or not....parenthood has just began!
In the last eleven years Ive learned a lot,Ive regretted a couple things about becoming a pet owner. The first is waiting so long to add an additional pet into the family(Oliver has a playmate and sister Jack-mix named Brownie) Oliver was 7 when this happened and that's too long a gap for him to have another pet to hangout and play with. Most dogs work well in pairs.
The second and most important regret of becoming a pet owner is the word: Owner.
I shouldn't have purchased Oliver. As I have gotten older I have matured and realized that having a pet doesn't mean you need to buy a pet. There are thousands of potential loving pets in shelters and foster homes that need our care. Thousands of potential loving, needy pets are dying on this day due to lack of a loving home. A friend of mine fosters dogs and many other friends have adopted animals in the past. My way of pet caring thinking has shifted over the years. Oliver will be the last pet I purchase.
My advice as an 11 year pet loving,card carrying member: Adopt, don't shop.
Having a pet (I'm partial to dogs) is the greatest joy one could ever experience. It's a life time of relentless companionship,loyalty,love,and devotion. I'm referring to my experiences not the dogs ;)
Happy birthday Oliver.....