It is virtually impossible for me to imagine life without a pet.
Yet, there was a time when the thought of having one struck as much terror within me as the prospect of diving into our high-tech age with its daunting devices.
While caring for a pet is in no way a high-tech endeavor, I used to believe that it was as complex a task as designing the first mother board. Pets and gadgets both require a certain degree of education, training and commitment, none of which I was willing to invest in some 20 years ago.
Fortunately, our ever-evolving tech world forced my hand and I had to either adapt - or be left behind. To my delight, I found that technology cracked my world open; I produced daring artwork, surfed libraries that could fill a cargo ship and face-timed with friends I would once have to wing cross country to see.
Tech itself is not a living, breathing thing, but it facilitated my contact with living, breathing beings. Eventually, the research afforded by the internet helped my wife and I welcome every pet we’ve ever had into our home.
As it turned out, tech was a much easier conversion for me than was the prospect of pet parenting. Navigating and maintaining appliances of convenience was one thing, being responsible for a more-or-less dependent and vulnerable being was quite another. Could I allow myself to love another being - as I do my wife - and be forever changed by him or her?
I could have chosen to hunker down in an amniotic bunker, thinking I would be forever insulated from that kind of responsibility. But that would be merely existing, not living.
As it once was when meeting my wife, so it was when we adopted our pets. It boiled down to my willingness to welcome a fresh vision of freedom. In my years as a husband and pet parent, I’ve learned that the freedom that comes with loving and caring for another is as boundless as the world wide web to which we all have fingertip-access. By being a pet parent, in addition to a husband, I seem to have more love to give away every day than I did the day before.
The innovations I once despised for challenging me were all unmasked as gifts that changed me for the better. And the responsibilities I once feared would shackle my heart have forever unlocked it.
I cannot imagine a better gift.
Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas!