I wrote this for our English conversation salon at Tamana Library.
“Pets” is a more difficult topic for me because I have had so few. My mother has never said so, but I don’t think she likes the smell of animals very much. Now, because I’m not used to them, I don’t really like the smell either. When I was a child, sometimes we had goldfish. They never lived very long. My younger brother had a pet frog named “Ace,” but Ace always tried to escape because my brother would forget to feed him. We went on a family trip to Colorado one summer and rode horses for a week. That was a lot of fun. My best friends in Indiana had very friendly dogs that would jump all over me when I came over. My ex-girlfriends had cats that didn’t care much for me. Obviously things didn’t work out with those girls, either, because I’m single now.
So I’ve never had a close relationship with an animal. However, many, many people do. In America, especially, we have a lot of pets because our country is so big. Many people have yards, and there is plenty of room for their pets to run around. Common house pets are cats, dogs, fish, birds, rabbits, hamsters, mice, gerbils, rats, and guinea pigs. Common farm pets are horses, goats, cows, chickens, ducks, and geese. Some very lucky girls own horses at stables that they use for horseback riding. We have many shelters for stray animals, and people sometimes adopt them. However, because most Americans don’t live on farms, they are careful not to have too many pets. Bob Barker, who hosted a very popular game show called “The Price is Right” for 50 years, always asked people at the end of his program to spay or neuter their pets so that they couldn’t reproduce.
Because pets are a big part of life, I am trying to appreciate them. They can inspire great literature such as Natsume Soseki’s “I Am a Cat.” Writers like Aesop and Basho often use animals to help us understand great truths. Dogs have saved countless people’s lives. We call them “Man’s Best Friend” because they are so loyal. One of the most famous American television programs is Lassie, which is about a heroic golden retriever. Because both kids and animals always want to play, they get along very well. Many elderly people are more active and less lonely when they have pets to take care of.
Pets can sense many things that we can’t. Sometimes they have mysterious powers. There is a cat in an American hospital that always knows when patients are going to die. He knows better than the doctors. When Oscar the Cat curls up to a patient, the hospital staff calls the patient’s family members to come join the patient for his final moments.
Often, children learn about death through pets. Once, my brother David caught a bee in a jar. He named it “Stingy.” When the bee died a few days later, he was devastated. He buried the bee in the yard and made a tombstone for it, which we kept for three years until we moved to a different house.
There is one thing that worries me. I have a teacher who says that her pet is her baby. There are many people like this in America. They spend thousands of dollars on their pets but don’t bother to have children. However, an animal can never replace a human being. We should have more respect for human life, and we should have more children. That said, I look forward to becoming wiser and learning more about pets in the future.