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The Role of Pets

Feb 01, 2023 05:00AM ● By Chris Jones

Pets hold a special place in our hearts and home. When I was growing up, I had a mixed breed named Astro after the iconic animated pet of George Jetson. Astro and I would have amazing adventures. We’d run together through the woods collecting the arrows left behind by bow hunters after deer season. He’d follow me as far as I was willing to ride my bike on the back country roads where I lived. And though he was deemed an outdoor dog by my parents—it was the mid-80s—I’d sneak him in to play with me and would keep him near my bedside or next to me while I played Atari.

When I was about 11 years old, Astro got into the habit of wandering off and returning every few days. One day, he wandered off and never returned. A few days later, my grandfather came home and said he saw a dog on the side of the road that he thought might be Astro. We drove over to the spot and sure enough, it was my faithful companion. I was devastated.

I’d eventually get another dog, a beagle, and we’d have a similar connection until I left home for art school.

What both dogs had in common was they were rescue dogs. My grandfather brought home the first and my uncle the second. And though my grandmother had a couple of purebred dachshunds, nothing was like those rescue dogs I had.

In this issue, we share tips for how to acclimate a rescue dog into the family. If done right, you’ll have a friend for life. Rescue dogs are truly one of a kind because you’d be hard-pressed to find a similar dog anywhere.

We’ve come a long way since I grew up. Pets today are deeply engrained into the family. Some people clothe their pets, and others cook for theirs. Pets can be great for children with autism, and pets accompany people into public places as service animals. And when we’re down, just the stroke of their soft coats can take the edge off of a difficult day. And in a socioeconomic climate where stress and anxiety can be higher than normal, a furry four-legged friend can be just what the doctor ordered.

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