Most people are surprised to hear I’ve never had a pet.
Yep, I didn’t grow up having a dog or cat, and I’ve never even owned a pet goldfish.
And most people want to know why. Pets are so much fun, how could I not own one?
Well, my parents always told me I had to be 12 to get a pet, because that’s the age where some level of responsibility is supposed to set in and the child is mentally mature enough to take care of a pet. My older brother always wanted a rabbit, and 12 was the age when he could finally get it.
But by the time he turned 12, he didn’t want a rabbit anymore. He had been to friends’ houses and seen their pet rabbits and learned how smelly they were. He saw how much it took to take care of them and that there weren’t enough benefits of having a rabbit around anyway.
And for me, as a child, I was afraid of big dogs. I have a vivid memory of visiting a family friend who owned a black German Shepherd and crying into a stuffed doll as the dog loudly barked at me.
Almost all of my neighbors had big dogs, including my best friend who lived three doors down. Most of my friends had some type of dog as well, so it felt like I grew up with dogs anyway.
I like cats. I enjoyed cuddling with the cats a massage therapist owned while I would wait for my mom to be finished with her appointment. But my mom had terrible experiences with cats growing up. These experiences included her cats pulling down her Christmas tree, crashing it to the ground, watching the glass ornaments break into pieces and then eating those pieces. Her cats also ate the tinsel on the tree, which would come out the other end and stick there, which my mom said grossed her out.
So, cats were out of the question during the years I lived with my parents. And because of my experiences with dogs, they were pretty much out as well.
As a child, I missed out on having an extra body to play with. A body that doesn’t talk and just follows you around. Pets can bring so much love into a household and can provide an extra layer of safety for a person or family. They almost always are willing to cuddle and are usually pleasing to the touch, being furry or fluffy. They also can improve people’s mental health and can teach a child patience and responsibility, learning how to take care of it.
Some days I wish I had some sort of small pet, just to see what it would be like. Now that I’m well past the age of 12, and have been living on my own for a while, I’ve considered it. But the building I’m living in has a strict no-pets policy.
And I don’t feel like I missed out on much as a kid. I lived a great childhood without any pets. I had two brothers to play with, plus my friends’ pets, and I didn’t feel like I needed another living thing around. I didn’t have to clean up messes or worry about stuff getting wrecked. I saved a lot of money not having to buy extra pet supplies and I didn’t have to worry about who would take care of my pet when I was gone on vacation.
Maybe when I’m older, I’ll long for a pet and I’ll live in a place that will allow it. But for now, I’m perfectly fine without one.
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“It’s Our Turn” is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.