Pets give us so much for so little in return

Those of us with pets know the joy of returning home to smiling faces. Sadie, on the left, with her buddy Bella.

Sixty-seven percent of American households have pets, which equates to about 85 million families. If you are fortunate enough to live with an animal friend, you understand that there is give-and-take involved in that relationship.

I’ve had pets all my life, primarily dogs and cats with some birds and fish thrown in over the years. With the exception of the fish—which I mostly kept when I was a child—all of these creatures came from the streets or shelters or from people who could no longer care for them. I’ve lived with several dozen cats and ten dogs–most of whom lived long happy lives.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

No matter how bad your mood or how crappy your day, that wagging tail or headbutt when you open the door can make all the cranky disappear. While I abhor clichés, the “unconditional love” trope is completely understandable to pet people.

Morgan and Westin, on the right, are best friends who live indoors, so my furniture is often used for scratching.

But residing with pets is not always magical. For example, there’s the furniture conundrum, especially for those of us who must keep some pets indoors. I have a deaf kitty named Westin and his BFF Morgan, neither of whom leave the house. That means chairs second as scratching posts. For a long time, this bothered me and had me considering new furniture, which my sweetie pie pointed out would just give the cats more expensive places to claw. And so, over time, I adapted. That chair with the white fluff coming out of it no longer disturbs me. (Well, most of the time anyway.) Pet owners understand that they can love their furniture or their pets, but not both.

Then there are the bills. Once, I was called home from work where I found my cattle dog Bella whimpering terribly. “She probably has a broken leg or ruptured Achilles tendon. You’re looking at between two and three thousand dollars for surgery,” my vet said, before whisking my dog away for X-rays. But when the diagnostics were completed, the vet looked a bit sheepish. “There’s nothing wrong with Bella,” she said. “I think she’s just a drama queen.” When I was handed the bill for $623, I squinted at my dog. “Really, Bella?” Which earned me a few tail thumps.

Ryan had Baby for almost 18 years and while she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge a while back, he still wears her ID tag around his neck.

My cat Westin was found abandoned in a hotel room with 29 other cats. He lingered at the Humane Society because of skin and ear issues, but when my youngest foster son pointed out that Westin was like him—since no one had wanted him either—I found myself with a pet whose upkeep exceeds the combined expense of every animal I’ve had in my life. When the vet asks if I want an itemized bill, I say, “Absolutely not!” and hand over my credit card. And yet when Westin curls onto my lap every night, it seems money well spent. (See how we pet people justify ourselves?)

Of course, the most difficult part about being pet parents are those end-of-life decisions. Even when said pet has lived a long, healthy life, the end is excruciating. My sweetie pie, who by all accounts is a big tough guy, still wears his dog’s ID tag on a chain around his neck. His Baby gave him almost 18 years and those last moments at the vet were heartbreaking. I’ve been in that special room at the animal hospital too many times, and yet despite the sadness of losing a friend, I can’t imagine living without animals.

They give us so much for so little in return. Even Bella, the drama queen.



Anne Montgomery

TouchPoint Press

Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Suspense

September 13, 2021

Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—an ancient pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley. Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.

One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.

Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.

One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.


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2 thoughts on “Pets give us so much for so little in return

  1. sharonledwith says:

    Heartwarming post, Anne, and so true. I’ve been there with medical expenses with pets, and it seems it’s all worth it in the end. Here’s wishing you keep those tails wagging or swishing for years to come! Cheers!


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