I adopted my first dog 5 years ago. Although I had always lived in a household with pets, this was the first pet I cared for on my own as an adult. I had visited the adoption center of the Richmond SPCA numerous times in order to browse but I came in on this particular day believing that if I found the perfect match, I would be adopting a dog. I vividly remember walking from kennel to kennel, looking at all of the dogs available for adoption. A labrador retriever mix by the name of Ellie, who I later renamed Maggie, caught my eye. It was love at first sight and she came home with me that day.
Shortly after I adopted Maggie I began working as an adoption counselor at the Richmond SPCA. About a month later I fell in love with a handsome hound/pointer mix named Garrison. He was the next addition to the household. Garrison was incredibly shy and was in need of a serious confidence booster. In a few short months, he went from being extremely nervous around strangers to being a dog who enjoyed meeting new people; from a dog who was too scared to go outside to one who would later romp around on the beach, playing in the waves. It was in these moments when I realized how important it can be for a pet to have a buddy. To this day, I credit the other dogs in the household for showing him the way. Pets are able to interact and teach one another in ways that a human being, even with the best intentions, simply cannot.
Fast forward three years to today. My household now consists of two dogs and two cats. I adopted my first pet as I entered my second year of college and my life has evolved quite a bit since that time. I have lived in three different houses, graduated college and started a career. Even as a young adult, being a pet guardian has not prevented me from living the life of my dreams as I have still been able to pursue interests outside of pet guardianship, including travel (thanks to a few trusted pet sitters!). In spite of all of life's changes, one of the few things that have stayed consistent over the past 5 years is living in a household with multiple pets.
I have learned a lot from my pets. I have found that I am most present when I am with them (which isn't hard to do when you are surrounded by creatures who live in the moment). Similar to people, my pets have shortcomings, but they also have traits that I hope to emulate; the first being loyalty. The loyalty my pets have for one another is remarkable. I strive to be as good of a friend to my peers as my pets are to one another. I admire Maggie’s patience and Kobe’s free spirit. Brody is the kind of cat who tends to have a lot of feelings about a lot of different things, but he carefully chooses his battles and that serves as a reminder for me to do the same in my own life. Oscar is a carefree, yet curious feline and doesn't seem to take himself too seriously, which is a lesson I could most certainly be reminded of from time to time. In addition to the lessons I learn from my pets, I enjoy the simple companionship pet ownership provides. Regardless of how my day went, when I come home each evening I am greeted by happy faces and wagging tails. Every day in my house ends on a good note. It's also comforting to know that my pets don't spend their days alone — they have one another for company while I am away from home.
The decision to take on any pet, much less multiple pets, requires careful thought and consideration. Being the guardian to multiple pets requires that I consider the different needs of my pets in most major life decisions I make. Being a pet guardian impacts my life on a daily basis but the dynamics involved in maintaining a multi-pet household works well for me. Adopting multiple pets has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. For me, the benefit of being the guardian to these pets outweighs the cost, each and every time. Each of my pets has provided me with an immeasurable amount of love, laughter and joy over the years, and for that I am truly grateful.
If you're considering adopting your first pet or would like to find a buddy for your current canine or feline at home, I would encourage you to visit the Richmond SPCA's website to view some of our available dogs and cats. You can also check out previous alumni update blog posts to see what others have said about their experience with pet adoption.
Alison Carlin is the manager of volunteers and programs of the Richmond SPCA. To read the biography our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires both your first and last name to be used as your screen name.