By Jim Tedford, Director of Animal Welfare Initiatives and Alliances
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! I can honestly say that of all the jobs I’ve had through the years, the most important and the most rewarding has been the job of DAD. I know, without any doubt, that I haven’t done everything right. I’ve made mistakes along the way, but, despite my sometimes less than perfect execution, my kids have all grown into responsible, compassionate, amazing adults. They are all gainfully employed and are building nice lives for themselves. I’m not asking them for a gift for Father’s Day. The people they’ve become represent all the gift I need…well, besides a whole passel of grandchildren! I have two so far, and they are the beautiful pay-off for all the craziness of raising my own kids.
But, a father’s work is never really done…especially when that father is raising kids of the canine variety. I shamelessly consider myself to be a dad to my houseful of dogs. The whole concept of an “empty nest” just seems overrated to me. I’ve got plenty of room in my “nest” and in my heart to be a dad forever. And, that’s a good thing. You see, my human kids grew up and moved out. They are responsible for making their own decisions and I’m only responsible for supporting those decisions and doling out advice only when asked. My canine kids are with me for the long haul! I’ll have to do most of the thinking and decision making for them for all the days of their lives.
And, I’m good with that. I knew what I signed up for and I still signed up willingly. Each of my dogs is unique…each has special needs and quirks that only a Dad (and Mom) understand (or are willing to put up with!). Lila is the old matriarch. She’s been with us for nearly 15 years and keeps everyone (us included) in line. Bodie is seven. His favorite thing in life is a ride in the car so sometimes I just let him sit in the car in the driveway delighting in the anticipation. Sam is also about seven. He finds joy in every single aspect of his life. Although he is a bit overweight, he treats every meal as though it is his first…and maybe his last! And Henry just turned one. I don’t normally “do” puppies! I like my dogs to arrive at the post-chewing, lots of calmness and sleeping age…five years or older. But, Henry has been a delight in our lives. He’s a wacky little Jack Russell Terrier who challenges us hourly. We joke that we treat the other dogs like they’re our kids and we treat Henry like a grandchild. He does get by with everything short of murder!
Nope…I don’t need a father’s day gift this year. As long as I have four cold noses and wagging tails to greet me every time I come home, I’m good! Well, I suppose I could use a lifetime supply of lint rollers or a gift certificate to have the 40 lbs. of dog hair vacuumed out of my vehicle!
Dads…enjoy your day. And if you don’t enjoy the love of a companion animal, give yourself the ultimate father’s day gift. Visit your local animal shelter this afternoon and bring home your next “child”!