By Steve Gruber , Director of Communications Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals
Pets are family. They bring a special joy into our world from the first day we bring them home. They teach us how to live every day to the fullest. They enrich our lives as we grow older together. And they break our hearts when we have to say goodbye to them.
As anyone who has loved a pet knows, losing a daily companion is one of the hardest things we ever do. Not long ago I had to bid farewell to my 16-year-old beagle, Boyfriend. I was inconsolable. When people said to me “it’s like losing a member of the family,” I thought, no, it is losing a family member.
As with any family member, we sometimes take their presence for granted. We go through our daily routines not always mindful that every experience we share with our pets is special. Every walk, every mealtime, every snuggle—each one is a blessing.
How many times have you seen someone dragging their dog down the street in a hurry, or talking on their cell phone, oblivious to their poor dog’s attempts to sniff, and explore, and perhaps greet another dog in passing? That kind of indifference is exasperating to witness. There have been times when I’ve been compelled to pause and say, “Excuse me, your dog is absolutely precious!” just to remind the person that his or her dog is special, valuable, and deserving of his person’s attention. More than once I’ve seen an immediate change in the person’s way of being with his dog. They just needed to be reminded.
OK, so some would tell me to mind my own business. But as I see it, treating animals with respect and compassion is everyone’s business. Because they are family.