Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What is the True Worth of a Pet?

By Linda Cole

I once had a coworker who felt it was her duty to chastise me for rescuing stray pets and giving them a temporary home while I tried to find their owner, and then a forever home if their owner couldn't be found. The money I spent on their vet care and food was beyond her comprehension. After months of complaining, one day she said “That's stupid to spend your money on those cats and dogs. Just think how much money you'd have if you got rid of them.” She had no idea what I spent on them because I never talked about it, but it was what she said next that made me blow a gasket. “Just dump them in the country. No one will know.” I won't repeat what I said to her, except to say she got an earful on what I thought about her suggestion. She had never been a pet owner and I knew I would be wasting my breath trying to explain something she couldn't comprehend.

To me, all animals have worth and it has nothing to do with money. They are all living beings and have a right to life. To ignore a lost/stray pet that needs help with food or finding a home is not something I can do. Also, if I found a wild animal that needed help I wouldn't hesitate to do what I could for them.

I realize the true worth of a pet is different for everyone because we don't all have the same kind of relationship with our pets. For many of us, though, our pets give us a reason to get up in the morning. They can make a rainy day seem sunny and bright. Pets have a contagious enthusiasm for life they pass on to us, if we're willing to take it. For other owners, their pet plays a limited role in their life and can easily be replaced. To them, it's “just” an animal.

The apathy of some people when it comes to a stray pet is mind boggling to me, and I will never understand how someone can look at a dog or cat and not see a precious life standing in front of them. Rescuing a pet off the street takes time and patience, but I could never turn my back on them. I don't know how many times I've found myself in tears trying to rescue someone else's throw away pet. It makes me angry that some pet owners have so little regard for their pet.

My dog Keikei wasn't technically a rescued dog since my neighbor did give her to me. However, through our conversation that day, I knew if I had refused to take her, Keikei would have been dumped, most likely out in the country where at 8 weeks old she would’ve had a slim chance of surviving. She would have been on her own because her owner saw no value in her. Keikei has been a challenge at times and we've had to work through food aggression, leash aggression, over excitement, and helping her understand that herding the cats is not one of her duties. It was with proper training, patience and above everything else love and seeing her true worth that strengthened our bond and built a lasting trust words can never describe. Keikei has great potential, but my neighbor couldn't see it.

Pets are just like us – they aren't perfect, but each one has so much potential with the right owner who takes the time to see and understand what they have to give. When we do it right, we nourish their soul with love and respect. In return, they give us unconditional love and accept us for who we are, no questions asked. Be thankful for your pets and never take them for granted.

I have a good friend who didn't like cats. One day he was visiting me when D.J., a blue eyed Siamese stray cat I had been trying to re-home, jumped up beside him and climbed onto his lap. I laughed as he grimaced, but something amazing happened. He didn't push D.J. away and instead stared into his eyes and then picked him up and held him close. Somehow, D.J. had gotten into his heart; my friend was captured by the loving spirit of a cat and discovered the true worth of a pet. He adopted D.J. a week later.

What is the true worth of any genuine and lasting friendship? There isn't any because you simply cannot put a price on love, trust and forgiveness. A treasured friendship is priceless, and that is what the true worth of a pet is. Priceless!

Photo by Nguyen Hoangnam

Read more articles by Linda Cole


  1. I don't think you CAN put a price on saving ANY life....I am with you - while people may not understand why I rescue, I don't understand how you can stand by and not do something.... Loved the DJ story!!

  2. This went straight to my heart of course. And I have the same reaction to all stray, lost or hurting animals. It sometimes causes me pain and sorrow to see them but it also enables me to help.

    My pets have never been just a pet. They are living beings and have spirits. They are given to us to have stewardship over and that is a extremely important duty that each of us have.

    They look to us for food, shelter and comfort. And when they live with us, they look for love. And as you said so well, that love is reflected back to us unstintingly.

    People who have pets and understand that simple fact are the ones who are so grieved and heart broken when our pets sail away to the Bridge and we are left standing in their now empty place in the home.

  3. The D.J. story was beautiful. Wonderful illustration of how, when we let them, animals can change our lives for good.

  4. Linda, you've expressed perfectly how we feel about pet animals. Thank you.

  5. You have to wonder what irked your coworker so much that she felt it her business for animals she obviously didn't care about. Interesting, isn't it? We have had similar reactions with having 6 dogs. Besides the fact people think it is insane and always making a reference to money. Makes you wonder what these same people think about their own friends and family and the price they place on them.

    I've never come across a stray, but one winter a stray cat adopted our garage. I never saw him, just heard him jump up into the rafters. I left food and water out and sometime in the spring he left. It was kind of neat experience.

    I think you said it best, how can you put any value on the best friends in the world?

  6. Well I live in the country, and I hate to tell you how many animals people dump on our property. I find cats are dumped the most, and these cats are only dumped because they are not kittens.

  7. I was a self centered and selfish person 14 years ago. I had all the materialistic things that one could want but I was lonely and really never truly happy. Then a brown eyed golden retriever came into my life. My neighbor was a breeder and i found myself becoming curious about the "babies" who peered at me through the chainlinked fence. "Curtis" was the last of the litter and my neighbor informed me that he would be getting rid of him the next morning. What that meant I could only imagine. I offered a ransom for him and my litle "rescue" came home with me. Curtis taught me a whole new way to live. He opened my eyes and heart to the true beauty of sharing my home with a non-human being. He changed my life for the better. I now have worked in the doggy biz for over ten years now. Rescue is my passion and will be intil my last breath. Curtis passed over peacefully a month ago. I have never grieved so hard in my life. I miss him terribly. But i owe my life to him, he brought me back from the brink. RIP my sweet baby. I will never ever forget you.


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