Macaw climbing on a colorful woodblock bridge.

The Reality of Having Companion Animals

The Reality of Having Companion Animals

Choosing a companion animal is a lifestyle change choice. 

We who indulge in the companion animal lifestyle walk the razor's edge of air quality, time, and house cleaning. We buy gadgets and things to clean. We buy air filters and install HVAC systems with air filtration systems. We clean (never enough). We dust (endless and futile). We vacuum and sweep and wipe surfaces as if we're actually getting paid to do it. We laugh at ourselves while attempting to clean horizontal blinds collecting dander and dust like a hoarder collects National Geographic magazines and pens. We wipe walls and baseboards of unidentifiable leftover attempts at feeding a parrot fresh fruit in season. We vacuum corners filled with enough fur to create a new dog.

Or maybe that's just me.

We hide in a closet to eat in peace. Or concede by entering the main room with small pieces to share. The bits n pieces add up to 3/4 of your plate. You consider going back in the closet with the remnants of a good idea. But there's no real room because the closet floor is taken up with parrot, dog, and cat food anyway.

We mentally prepare for a parrot on our shoulder at any given moment, without warning, to experience the odd sensation of a parrot tongue measuring the depth of our ear canal. We trip over our short dogs who have decided they are just not close enough to you. We'll walk into a room and find a dog (or two) sitting handsomely. Staring at us. We can only offer one response, "What?"

I'm sure that is not just me.

We'll scoop a litter box and create a small cat sidewalk of bathmats to the box. In hopes of keeping the liter in the box. Make your bed, your feet become hunting target practice for kitty paws and claws. This same kitty will wonder the house calling great mows and growls. At 3 am. Most likely pretending to be a lion. A savage little beasty who prefers belly rubs at 3:07 am rather than pm.

Choose a companion animal, and you choose the lifestyle.

If you want a relationship. If you want a friend. You will modify habits to accommodate hormones, weather patterns, fireworks, belly aches, neediness, hunger, pet beds, baths, bones, scattered toys, destroyed pillows, shredded blankets, fur everywhere. Tipped water bowls. Kibble crumbs. Floating fur. Feather flotsam. Stolen covers in the night, early rising, and routine walks. Accidents. Veterinary bills. You will learn just how kind, patient and accommodating you can be, if you are doing all this right.

There's a moment every single companion person wakes up to at the junction in the road of companion animal life that will make or break the choice of this lifestyle. This is the new normal chosen. It's dating someone and taking it to the next step. Engagement and marriage. This is it. This is how it is and this is your new promise, until death do you part. If you are doing this right.

Companion animals do far more than just "accept" us. They install us into their own truths. We define their happiness. A companion animal will depend on us for our emotional support in the relationship. Humans have a hard time letting go of ourselves and putting another in front of our own expectations.

I look into the sets of eyes in feather and fur in my world and realize today's frustration wasn't with them, it was with me. I use the past tense of is because I've straightened out my own human little red wagon. With the help of Butters and Angus. Butters flew to my shoulder and promptly knocked my arm off the keyboard. It is 11:45 am. I'm late. For her.

Blue and gold macaw playing in a stainless steel bowl.

Angus rolled over on his back under my desk and is reaching out with a promisingly huge paw to gently tap me over and over on the shin. It is 11.46 am. I'm late. For him.

Catahoula hound sleeping on blankets on a couch.

Felix looks over his shoulder with the Eye of Disdain. It's irrelevant what time it is, I'm eternally confused. Any respectable parrot can see that.

African Grey parrot sitting in his food bowl.

I am so very fallible. I am so lucky. And they are so perfectly sincere.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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