Dogs are loving, patient, companions, and I’ve always liked them, but as a child, I was not allowed to have one. My mother didn’t like animals. “They’re dirty and messy, and they die,” she’d say, shaking her head, when we asked for pets.
Once in a while, we kids would manage to break down her defenses and she’d give in, letting us bring home canaries, snakes, frogs, rats, fish, and turtles over the years—but only one dog. My brother’s beagle, Sam, loved to roam, resulting in numerous retrievals from the animal shelter and several trips to the pet hospital. It seemed that no fence was high enough to contain him, and one day he disappeared, never to return. After that, we were only allowed pets that could be kept safe in aquariums or cages.
So, I always longed for a dog and, when I grew up and had children of my own, adopted one from the animal shelter. But the dog was older, and ill-behaved, and I had no idea how to train an animal. When he bit a neighbor, we had to let him go. The second dog we adopted was a sweet little thing, but very old—deaf, as it turned out—and prone to seizures. My children’s hearts broke when we also had to let him go. It was then that I realized my mother’s refusals to allow us to have a dog were because she was actually tender-hearted and wanted to spare us (and herself) the pain of that loss. For many years after that, I only allowed my children to have pets in cages.
Then, when my youngest son was three, I bought a house in the country. I’d learned my lesson and, this time we got a puppy and took him to dog training school (which, as far as I’m concerned, is more about training the owner than the dog). Lincoln, a black-labrador-pit-bull mix, was a wonderful and loyal family member. But disaster struck after only five years, when he managed to escape the property and got hit by a car. We were devastated.
Now I live in a house with a large, fenced yard. All my neighbors have dogs (and a few cats), and my thoughts are once again turning in the direction of canine companionship.
So when one of my readers suggested a week’s worth of journaling prompts about dogs, it seemed as though kismet was at work. Journaling about dogs? Why stop there?
This week’s journaling prompts are all about pets: the good, the bad, the ugly, and why we love them so much.
- What were your parents’ or guardians’ attitudes towards pets, and how has that influenced your life?
- What kinds of pets have you had over the years, and with which do you feel the most affinity or comfort? Why do you think that is the case?
- Write about the pro’s and con’s of pets: what do they provide, and what do they cost in terms of time, money, and effort?
- Do you think that people should own animals? Why and why not? (Write about both sides of the issue.)
- What can animals teach us?
- Do you have pets now? Write about each animal’s strengths and weaknesses. Then write about your strengths and weaknesses as a pet owner.
- What is the funniest thing one of your pets did?
If you’d like to share a link to your pet stories, responses to any of the writing prompts, or have suggestions for future journaling, please leave a comment.