This past Saturday was National Love Your Pet Day. It seems like every day should be dedicated to loving your pet, but I suppose one day a year to ultra-spoil them is kind of fun to have! We recognized this unofficial holiday by giving back to the pets in our life and those less fortunate that will hopefully one day find their forever homes. Our family really does have a special place in our hearts for shelter animals, which is where both of our pets came from. Let’s start by introducing you to the furry friends that are a part of our family.
First up is the feline of the house – a pretty calico kitty named Sweet Pea.
Note how thrilled she is to be posing for the camera? Yeah, that about sums up her personality right there. Sweet Pea is really my kitty. I got her when I was a sophomore in college and there’s no doubt that she prefers me over any other human – or animal for that matter – in our house. Our kids are working on getting her to trust them more and how to love on her in her “senior kitty” years. At one point I almost lost her. When she was a baby kitten she somehow managed to swallow a penny and it got lodged in her abdomen. After months of throwing up and losing weight, I finally took her to the vet to find out what was wrong. That’s when they did an x-ray and discovered she ingested a penny and it was corroding a hole in the lining of her stomach. With the help of an incredible non-profit group, IMOM, that helps financially aid pet-related medical expenses, I was able to raise enough money to pay for her surgery and get the penny out. Talk about luck! That’s one penny that ended up bringing her more luck than she bargained for! She is almost 15 years old now and there’s no way to know how many more years we will have left with her, but she hasn’t shown any major signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Then there’s the canine of the family – a spunky, over the top excited and sometimes obnoxious, but extremely loveable schnauzer named Annie.
Annie came to us about 3 years ago when we were visiting area shelters on the hunt for a family dog. We really didn’t know what kind of dog we wanted, we just thought when we met him or her, we’d know. Annie was definitely that. She was an abandoned dog, just shy of a year old, very unsure and a bit skittish – but we knew after spending some time with her at the shelter, that she had good interaction with the kids and seemed like the kind of dog that really just needed someone to take her home and love on her. But don’t all shelter dogs need that? So, home with us she came. To say she has been well-loved in our home would be an understatement! Our children adore her, snuggle with her, read to her, play fetch with her, teach her tricks and she honestly sometimes feels like my 4th furry child! We have done a few rounds of obedience training with her at our local kennel club, and while she still has some work ahead of her, has definitely made huge strides since first bringing her home. She is also an excellent watch dog. Her breed is a schnauzer, mixed with a terrier, which are known for their protective nature and love of family.
The funny thing about the pets in our home is that they live on completely separate levels. Sweet Pea used to have free reign of our entire house back before we decided to go and bring a dog home! She wants nothing to do with Annie! Either she is scared of her or just plain mad that there’s a dog in the house, because since the day we brought Annie home, Sweet Pea has refused to come downstairs. She is now our upstairs kitty. And Annie is our downstairs dog. Pretty funny how they’ve figured out how to coexist on completely different levels of our home.
Our love for shelter animals doesn’t stop with our own pets. Our family volunteers at our local humane society and tries to help out in some small capacity. Over the summer, we try to volunteer at least 1x/week, but during the school year it’s more like once a month. When we’re there we help with laundry, cleaning bowls & toys, filling food dishes and helping socialize the animals. Our oldest daughter even chose a dog-themed birthday party this year where she requested donations for the shelter animals in lieu of birthday gifts for herself.
Even though our kids aren’t allowed to help with the dogs at the shelter until they are older, they can still help with the cats, which make up the majority of adoptable pets available. There are several “cat rooms” where people looking to adopt can come and visit with a kitty, get to know their personality and decide if they’d like to take one home as their pet. Our family helps with socializing the kitties so they will be used to human interaction and therefore more likely to be adopted. My kids really enjoy this time with the cats when they come to help at the shelter. There’s always one that we would like to take home with us, but unfortunately, with such a ornery senior cat already at home aka Sweet Pea, it’s best to wait until she goes up to “kitty heaven” before introducing a new cat into our family.
This guy’s name was Vincent and boy was he a lover! I would have really enjoyed taking him home with me! If you’re looking for an affectionate, friendly cat, he’s definitely your guy!
My girls enjoyed making a few felt cat toys and bringing in some yarn for the cats to play with on our visit.
They even have some neat mounted wall boxes and ledges so the cats can climb and hide or sleep if they want, despite being confined to a small room.
Aside from volunteering at the shelter, we also gave Sweet Pea a few new cat toys the kids had made, and took Annie for an extra long walk outside – just a few ways we chose to spoil and show extra love to our own pets.
There are so many wonderful animals waiting to be adopted at shelters in local communities all around us. If you are interested in adding a pet to your family, I would strongly urge you to consider adopting one from a local shelter. Often times I think these animals get a bad rap for being “unwanted” but really are often surrendered due to medical, financial or other owner-related hardship. They are really all just in need of a good home with someone who will love and care for them and treat them everyday like it’s National Love Your Pet Day!
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