As most of you know, my Mom was the devoted animal lover (pictured below) and my Dad was always rolling his eyes every time she brought home yet another stray cat, dog, bunny or bird!
It wasn’t that he didn’t LIKE animals, he was actually allergic to cats and just didn’t feel the need to complicate life with animals of any type.
That said, he also grew up in a similar household dynamic. His Dad was the animal lover and his mom was petrified of them.
They had one dog, who quickly ran away for greener pastures, and (later on) two cats.
My dad actually rescued the cats from a friend and brought them home as a surprise for my Grandma.
Unfortunately, my Grandma was not amused and ran out of the house faster than their dog had escaped, screaming “rats, rats…”
So as you can imagine, pets never took center stage in his life and why he once yelled at me about my obsession with trying to save them all!
Ha Ha…what do you think now Dad???!
Anyhoo,I think that it is SO important for boys and men to have a connection with animals for so many reasons.
Whether they’re young and learning how to respectfully interact with pets, school-age and turning to their pets as four-legged support systems, or as adults, a man who cares about animals says a lot about him! In fact, it’s one of the things I look for most in the dating game (so listen up guys…)
Pets teach men (and women) compassion, responsibility, loyalty, love, gentleness, etc… It’s a bond that can’t be replicated by anything else (in my opinion!)
Now back to my Dad, who has certainly made a full recovery from NOT being an animal person!
When he and his wife, Susan, lovingly kidnapped my rescue dog Cookie (because they fell in love with her), things started to change. Cookie was drawn to my dad because he’s a super messy eater and always dropped food on the floor. Cookie quickly discovered that if she sat between his feet, she would oftentimes get lucky with a morsel of human food!
That simple act evolved into her following my dad around the house constantly. Cookie has become my Dad’s little shadow and suddenly IT HAPPENED.
My Dad became a recovered “anti-pet person” and I couldn’t be happier…. (Although I’d really like my dog back and clearly that’s NOT going to happen)!
My Dad now dotes on Cookie and her brother Ned, takes her to work sometimes and even brought her on a solo vacation to Palm Springs once! It’s a match made in heaven and I’m sure my Mom is looking down and very happy =)
So, on this Father’s Day, let’s give some love to the dog (and cat) dads of the world! Let’s remember that they too are amazing and deserve some appreciation!
PS-Thank you to all parents who understand the importance of integrating pets with their young children. Even if adopting isn’t an option, please educate your kids on how to interact with animals and the importance of being kind and compassionate with them. If we start to teach them young, we have a much better chance of raising a new generation who will nurture and protect animals in need.
Below are a few of my favorite Resources for Parents:
Humane Education Programs:
Operation Blankets of Love: https://www.obol.info/help-humane-education-learning-program/
Tails That Teach: https://www.tailsthatteach.org
Pet Education Project: https://www.ilovepep.org
Animal Rescue Oriented Toys:
Love Me Gently: https://www.tailsthatteach.org and many others!!!
Here’s an additional list:
Books for teenagers: