The other day I was playing blocks with my 3-year-old son, Tyler. We were in the middle of making a house for the astronauts to hide in, when he stood up and said, “Mom, pause for a second. I need to make pee-pee.” Seriously? My husband and I are very conscious of limiting the amount of “screen time” our kids get, but when Tyler thinks he can literally stop people—the way he can press a button and pause an episode of Sesame Street on the DVR—it says a lot about the world we live in.
My kids know how to “Google it” when they have a question. And if something arises
that they can’t figure out, they ask, “Mom, isn’t there an app for that?” Granted, it’s helpful when my 8- and 10-year-old daughters can teach me how to burn an iTunes playlist onto a CD, but there are certainly days I feel like unplugging every device we have and moving to the country.
Luckily, there are many moments when I do see my kids spending time with one of the other interactive “toys” in our home—our dog. Don’t get me wrong; I absolutely understand that animals are not here simply to be playthings for humans. However, when I see Luna being the patient in a game of vet, a reading buddy during homework, or a giant pillow to hug while someone is wiping their tears on her fur and spilling their secrets in her floppy ear, it warms my heart. nd the best part? No batteries required! This perfect playmate is fueled with belly rubs, love, and kibble. Witnessing the unspoken bond between a child and their pet is pure joy.
If you are looking for true love this Valentine’s Day, or any day, seek out a companion who does not communicate with words. You will not regret it. In fact, I guarantee he will be one of the greatest loves of your life. Plus, let’s face it: Where else can you find a partner who will listen unconditionally, will never judge you, and is blissfully unaware of morning breath, bad hair days, and unshaved legs? The joys of living with pets are limitless. In many cases, animals bring out a side of us that we may not reveal to others.
And be sure to think beyond just dogs and cats. There is a perfect pet out there for everyone. I was recently in Toronto visiting family, and I watched as my brother-in-law cradled his parrot, Sparky, in his arms, cuddling with him in front of the TV—part of their nightly routine. It was a relationship I didn’t even know could exist between a person and a bird! Even Hatch, the class turtle we babysat over winter break, received more love and attention than I thought possible for a reptile who prefers to hide out in her own shell. After spending a few days with her, we began to see her personality, got excited when she ate or took a dip in her “pool,” and cheered her on as she explored the living room floor and got some exercise. I even think I saw her smile once or twice.
So whether you are bringing home your first pet, or welcoming another one to the family, the unique relationship a companion animal offers is like no other. More than any smart phone or gaming device out there, your pet can encourage you to be more social, get outside in the fresh air, be healthier, and, best of all, increase your daily dose of smiles and laughter—no data plan required.
Don’t forget to take lots of photos to prepare for our annual photo contest. We can’t wait to meet the new love of your life—