I know there are people who think of pets as, well, pets.
We hear it often. “It’s only a dog.” “Cats don’t require attention.”
Maybe they purchased one. Maybe they rescued one. Maybe they inherited one.
And some think nothing of leaving a pet behind. Natural disasters, war, moving—take care of yourself, leave the pets. Oh well. Each man—and pet—for himself.
My father brought home a pair of goldfish from a school where he worked part-time because they were left behind. School was over for the year. Everyone was out of the building for the summer break. And these little ones were left alone, in a bowl, to die, so my loving father ensured their survival.
We never knew that you could bond with fish until they crossed over the threshold of our home.
Whoever entered the kitchen first in the morning, this pair would enthusiastically swim to the glass surface, flapping their fins and eager for their morning meal. They made eye contact. They interacted. And they became a part of our family until they passed. We loved them and they brought joy to our lives. And we are so glad that they died a natural death—not left uncared for, to die of starvation in a filthy bowl.
To this day, I hope that the person honestly forgot, that it was an oversight, and didn’t just turn off the light and walk away from them.
Why am I rambling on about this?
Because I think of the pets who have been left behind across the United States and abroad.
Not just in times of distress, but more often, just because. Abandoned, not even left at a shelter for someone else to rescue and give a forever home to.
Then I witness the Ukrainians, not leaving home without their pets. Dogs, cats, and other animals being packed up and brought along no matter what fate awaits them all.
Because they are family. Because they wouldn’t even consider leaving them behind. Because they love them.
I’m in awe of the strength and determination of the Ukrainian people. I’m saddened that they are the victims of a violent tyrant who wants to not only destroy then possess their country—but murder them. What unity and leadership these people are demonstrating, never playing the victim—when they could—but taking charge of their plight and making every effort to survive.
I can’t even imagine.
But I do know that I, too, would rather die with my dog than leave her behind. She is a part of our family and we love her as much as we do each other.
For those who aren’t animal lovers, you may scoff at this and think it ridiculous.
But for those of you who are, you get it.
Pets are family, too.