Four youths discuss what it is like owning a pet and why others should too.
Ever since I was young, I’ve always wanted a pet dog. Not only are they fun to have around, but they also bring a lot of joy by giving the owner company.
However, my dad was always against the idea of me owning one. He didn’t like keeping pets as he thought that they were too much of a hassle to care for and that we were often too busy to devote our time to them.
Like me, many of us have contemplated owning a pet before and for many reasons might not have gone about owning one or was not allowed to.
I was keen to find out how I can convince my dad and decided to speak to four pet owners to find out why one should own a pet.
Macaraig David, a 19-year-old polytechnic student, owns Elise – a two-month-old half Persian and half Siberian cat. For David, taking care of Elise is his way of taking his mind off work whenever he has a long day.
“Sitting down at the desk, looking at the computer screen and having meetings all day can be mentally draining because you are constantly using your brainpower with very few breaks. This can leave you jaded at the end of the day,” David explained.
“With Elise, she is one of many things that I think of as the day goes by as she is one of the few pillars in my life that keep me relaxed because of her playful and cheerful attitude she has.”
When asked about a memorable moment he had with his cat, David said: “Whenever I am about to sleep, she would come up to me and she would lie down next to me. As she sleeps, I would pet her and massage her head. This tells me that she trusts me.”
However, taking care of Elise is not always easy.
“When I fold the clothes, Elise would disturb me by messing them up. She would also be the reason I wake up late at night because she would bite my feet when I sleep,” David said.
Yet despite the trouble they go through to take care of Elise, David shared she is a part of the family and he would not have it any other way.
Similarly, 20-year-old student Sumaryan, who owns an African Grey parrot named Joey, believes that owning a pet has brought lots of joy into her life. Joey was rescued by Sumaryan’s dad when he was at work.
She said: “Whenever I come home and I am feeling down I will always play with my parrot and he instantly brightens up my mood by making me laugh and talking to me.”
As for Gladys Sowane, a 20-year-old nail technician who owns a seven-year-old Japanese Spitz dog,being a pet owner has taught her that animals are more than just “heaps of fur and cuteness”. Instead, they are life forms with “feelings and personalities”.
Her dog, Mehka, was abandoned as a pup and had extremely bad separation anxiety prior to adoption in 2012. This meant that Mekha required extra attention, so at any given point, someone had to be home or Mehka might hurt herself because of her anxiety.
Gladys and her family, who were first-time owners too, had to plan their schedules together.
Mehka was also not potty trained and Gladys’ mother had to wake up several times in the night to take care of her during their first week with Mehka – one which Gladys described as “hectic” and “strange” with many things to learn.
Despite the initial challenges, taking care of Mehka had taught Gladys the importance of unconditional love.
She said: “Cliche as it is, I’ve always seen myself as the “cool aunt” that would never have children because I thought I was incapable of loving another being unconditionally. After caring for Mehka, I’ve realised that I can and I’m grateful to her for helping me realise that.”
Gladys also recalled her most memorable moment with Mehka when she had almost slipped on her toys while carrying her to the room.
“I remember making sure Mehka wouldn’t get hurt when we reached the floor and I remember Mehka not being scared at all too. I was so emotional after. We had just adopted Mehka, and after being in so many homes, she was still capable of trusting us,” she shared.
Sumaryann shared that the constant companionship of her pet meant that there is never a moment where she feels alone.
Interestingly, Sumaryann initially assumed that having a pet parrot would be boring unlike having a dog where the owner can teach them tricks or play with their fur.
But Joey helped prove this wrong as she later realised that having a pet parrot can be just as fulfilling because they can be taught how to communicate with others and learn to fly.
The African Grey parrots are also known as one of the “world’s smartest species” and can speak up to a thousand words. They are very friendly and they love to have conversations with their owner.
“Joey would greet me whenever I would enter and leave the house. Once, he asked ‘why you sad’ and it shocked us that he was starting to speak in sentences instead of just words,” Sumaryann said.
If not for Joey, Sumaryann believes that life would be much quieter and different in the household as the family had grown closer over the time they spent together playing with Joey.
For Georgia Mae, a 19-year-old student who owns a pet hamster named Frankie, her hamster brings a sense of comfort to her whenever they are together.
Georgia adopted Frankie two years ago after the death of her first hamster. She wanted another hamster as she couldn’t stand the sight of the empty cage and wanted it to be a home for another pet.
“My hamster brings me happiness through his company. Spending time with him makes me glad to have another presence in my home as I have no siblings and my parents are at work,” she said.
“I think my life without my pet would be less exciting as I would usually be home alone with nothing to care for or to spend time with.”
Gladys shared that owning her dog has made her more active.
“I go for a lot more walks than I used to. The fresh air and greenery help relieve the built-up stress and walking with her, without my phone, is therapeutic,” she said.
Apart from making a person more active, owning a pet can make the owner more responsible too.
“When you start to own a pet, you would have to be in charge of its needs like hygiene, food or water because it is a living thing and she can’t take care of herself like us humans,” David said.
As a new pet owner, David also jokingly added that the newfound responsibility of caring for Elise’s health and safety will help prepare him for the future when he raises his own children.
Georgia also shared that taking care of her hamster has taught her to be more responsible in her time management. As she has to clean the cage and care for Frankie, she has to take time out of her day to do so and laziness is not an option.
“I also had to make changes to my lifestyle, like making space for its cage and other items, scheduling my time to clean the cage, playing with my hamster and always putting my hamster’s care into consideration when travelling,” she said.
Sumaryann suggests that one should consider thoroughly if they are capable of caring for a pet before getting one. Prospective pet owners should also research on the animal they are going to adopt to know the specific dos and don’ts for each animal.
This is very crucial as owning a pet is a lifelong commitment and one should not give up caring for the pet halfway as they think that it is too difficult.
For first-time pet owners, Gladys recommends talking to responsible pet owners for advice and hiring a trainer if they are unsure of what to do.
Before committing to owning a pet, David also believes that potential owners must decide if they have the time and financial capabilities to care for their furry friends.
After speaking with the youth pet owners, I have a deeper insight into what it is like to own a pet.
While owning a pet might seem fun on the outside, I now realise that there are many factors to consider when it comes to owning a pet and it is not always as easy as it seems.
Most importantly, owning a pet is more than just fulfilling my own needs but also about putting the best interests of my pets first and doing what is best for their wellbeing.
Owning a pet would be a dream come true for me. Despite the challenges that come with it, I believe I am capable of owning one and soon hope to adopt a pet of my own too.
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