I often get asked why I decided to open a pet sitting and dog walking business. To me this is an obvious question; I know many people who would give their right arm (even though it would be difficult to hold a leash) to work with animals every day, but I always give a short, cliched answer about loving animals. Now, I’ll actually share with you the long answer to that question, and I do apologize because it’s a bit sentimental.
We brought home this handsome guy, Teddy, from Animal Ark when I was in fourth grade:
I liked Teddy well enough. I was in charge of walking him everyday when I came home from school. It wasn’t always my favorite chore (ironic, given my current career), but I did it anyway. Sometimes he was a nuisance because he humped some of my friends, but I generally treated him as another member of the family: someone that I was obligated to love.
My true love and appreciation for Teddy transpired on a November day when I was a junior in high school. I was home alone after school working on some homework. My mom had recently had some tests done to see whether she had skin cancer, and we were waiting for results. This was the first time that I ever had to deal with the potential mortality of my parents. My mom called me while I was doing my homework to say that the doctors had called (on her birthday, no less) and told her that she did indeed have skin cancer. I hung up the phone with my mom and sat on this old brown chair we had and sobbed. As I was crying, Teddy, a seventy pound lab, climbed into my lap and rested his head on my shoulder. I cried into his fur for at least half an hour. What a comfort he was to me during that difficult time.
At that moment I realized how in tune animals are to our emotions. After that, Teddy and all animals became so much more important to me. They are trusted confidants, companions, and beloved members of my family. I am so fortunate to turn this love and appreciation into a career. As I hang out with my furry clients, I never forget the love and respect for animals that Teddy taught me while I was growing up.
I know that we all have stories of our animal first loves. What’s yours? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.