There are so many reasons I love animals. I've often thought to myself, in all seriousness, "what would I do without my cats?" However, it's not just my cats. It's every dog or cat with whom I've ever had the privilege to share life.

Like all of us, I've seen my share of dark times. I've had periods in my life where I've felt depressed, abandoned, grieved, confused, or just overwrought. As bleak as those times could be, there was always one common element that kept me from falling into emotional abyss in those moments--my beloved pet friends.

Even the times when I haven't had a canine or feline companion, the animals that choose to live near us have been a comfort. From the squirrels that scurry nearby while you sit on a park bench and ponder to the birds that sing all around you, and will even fly quite near once you've allowed yourself to become still in nature for awhile. This even includes the cows and horses that look your way as you take an introspective walk down a country road. Yeah, without all of them life would be so much more lonely to me.

What about people? Oh I love many people, too. :) Even with a great family and dear friends, there's a particular companionship that comes with a being a fur kid guardian. It's like asking do you like pizza or cheesecake? Um, both please.

It's not just sad times that make me grateful for animals. Almost every joy-filled moment I've ever experienced has ever only been made better by their presence. They amplify the happiness. They comfort in times of sadness. They are ever-present and have no agenda. They aren't trying to emotionally manipulate or climb any social or corporate ladders. Now, to be fair, they may be angling for an extra treat at dinner time, but who could blame them for that. ;)

These are some of the reasons that I care so much about animals. They deserve our love and yes, even respect. They are authentic. They teach us to be better. Who doesn't want to be the person their dog thinks they are?

If you've been considering a new family friend, I'd encourage to look into adopting, rather than buying. It's been far too long that these generous, loving creatures have been exchanged as inanimate objects. They are sensitive creatures that need a forever home. If you'd like to see some that are available for adoption in East Texas, or even if you'd just like to help the animals in some way, connect with the SPCA of East Texas. There are many ways to help and many companions waiting for their families to come and take them home.