By Sharna Johnson
-eyed gold fish, turtles, hamsters, snakes, lizards, spiders, insects, birds, frogs, rodents, pigs, horses, marsupials, primates, and yes, even cats and dogs — pets are best defined as those creatures you share your life with, carefully selected to fit whatever floats your boat.
Some of them adapt to us, becoming almost human in their interactions.
They adopt our routines, share in our moods, pose for family pictures next to the kids and rank higher on the Christmas shopping list than extended family.
Others live in their own little worlds, tucked neatly within our own, their self-contained habitats positioned in our homes to give us a window into another world.
They don’t always love us and sometimes we are just their caretakers and personal vending machines, other times they can’t live without us, willing to chew their way through doors and crying incessantly at the tragedy of being left alone.
And either way, we love them, often going to such great lengths to incorporate them into our lives that we select our homes with them in mind, pay hefty deposits knowing we might never see the money again, and build huge barns and small ecosystems just to make sure they have what they need and we have them.
Pets add an element to our lives that few other things can and whether it is the idea of having something to care for or having something that cares for you, a lot of people can’t imagine life without them.
Beginning with National Pet Day, which was Friday, and through National Pet Week May 5–11, spring marks the time of year when pets and the joy they bring us is celebrated.
Highlighting the plight of domesticated animals through adoption campaigns as well as serving as a time to strengthen awareness for proper care and medical information, pet recognition efforts are geared at improving life for our companion animals.
And while we are reminded to improve their circumstances, it’s also a great time to recognize the happiness they bring to us.
Some interesting pet facts to ponder as you do just that:
l National Pet Week is a running tradition of more than 30 years.
l New Mexico is the second-highest state when it comes to pet ownership with 67.6 percent of homes welcoming animals, ranking only below Vermont in the top 10 for the nation, according to data from the American Veterinary Medical Association.
l The Land of Enchantment is home to dog lovers. Coming in second behind Arkansas, 46 percent of homes include dogs, according to the AVMA.
l Cat lovers can’t be underestimated. Data from the AVMA shows there are 10 million more cats kept as pets in the U.S. than dogs.
l In 2014 pet owners will spend an estimated $58 million on their critters after parting with a little less than $56 million in 2013, according to the American Pet Products Association.
l Freshwater fish represent the highest numbers when it comes to pets in US households with 145 million of them swimming in tanks from coast to coast.
l Among mammals, the cats have it, with 95.6 million of them claiming households. Dogs come in at a relatively close second, with 83.3 million residing in US homes, APPA data shows.
Whether they fly, swim, purr, bark, bask, slither, gallop or hide under a rock, it’s pretty clear we love them and for that matter, celebrate them every day whether it’s on the calendar or not.
Sharna Johnson is a writer who is always searching for ponies. You can reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org