Pets Can Be Great Teachers - What I Have Learned From Having Pets
Animals are a big part of my life. I've always had some kind of pet (typically a dog), but throughout my life, I've been introduced to so many animals, and I've had so many and still do have different species that many people would refuse to care for.
My first and foremost love is, and will always be, of the canine variety. Dogs are always there for you no matter how mad you get or how bad your day was. They're there with you when you are sick, depressed, excited, and surprised. Dogs are just always there for you.
Next, reptiles. I've had numerous species under my care, ranging from African fat tail geckos to the Madagascar spiny gecko to sand boas to ball pythons to frogs to everything in-between. My love for reptiles will continue throughout my life, but I can guarantee my friends, family, and strangers that I'll never be caught caring for a venomous reptile.
Besides my dogs and reptiles, the rats I used to have were awesome. If I had more time in my life, I would love to bring home two or three. They are just so friendly and playful, it's hard to be mad around them.
So, as you can see, I'm not your average girly-girl. I like snakes, rats, and dogs. But, it is worth it. I have all of the animals because I need to be needed, so I care for something that can't thrive on its own without me feeding it and cleaning its enclosure (of course in the wild, it's a different story, but they can't always live in the wild).
While having pets, it's easy to see how much you can learn from them. Not just learning about the care and health of the particular species you're caring for, but what they teach you.
What Animals Teach Us
When caring for animals, you learn patience. You learn that when you get frustrated, they get frustrated.
It is easy to see how we all need patience when dealing with animals; they're not like people and just can't tell you what they want. But, when it comes to humor.... Now, that's near a necessity that you either have or have to learn.
I don't know how many times I've walked in my room to see my yorkie (Codie) either doing something crazy or having already done something silly. Recently, he's reverted to his terrible-two's, acting worse than he's ever acted in his entire life (by the way he's 10 as of May 16, 2010). He's now into jumping onto my desk and knocking everything over, standing on the bookshelf, taking things out of the trash, clearing off my night stand, etc. It's not funny, but when you catch him, he gives you that look of, "what mom? I didn't do anything," even though he was caught in the act, or it's "I'm not doing anything wrong" and continues to do what he was doing without a second thought.
Sometimes, even my tortoises will do something silly that just causes me to giggle.
I've learned so much about food, nutrition, and diet from having pets. It all started when I got my bearded dragons, as they require fruits, vegetables, and proteins (crickets and such). The importance of good foods in their diet is vital, and while researching appropriate diets and foods for bearded dragons, I learned a lot about the different foods that we eat. For example: iceburg lettuce has no nutritional value and isn't an ideal lettuce to eat; spinach and dark greens are oxalates that can bind calcium and potentially cause kidney stones and kidney damage when eaten in excess; and berries and legumes contain tannins, which can bind proteins, causing digestion problems, when consumed in large amounts.
After getting my tortoises, the knowledge I gained from feeding my bearded dragons helped with ensuring they all got proper foods in their diet. So, not only do the animals help me feed myself properly, but in some cases, they help each other.
In some cases, I learn things about one animal that can help another. Like how pumpkin is a natural de-wormer for tortoises, but it can also be a de-wormer for dogs. Blended up the skin, core, stringy-stuff, and seeds and fed it to my tortoises, who loved it. A few weeks later, my grandmother came to me to tell me that pumpkin is good for dogs, but she couldn't remember why. I said, "it's a de-wormer," and she replied, "oh yea that's what they said!"
Current Pets as of 2010:
- Dogs (Codie and Mia)
- Leopard geckos (Banon, Anubis, and a few unnamed)
- Crested geckos (Spade, Tripod, Rumor, Redman, and many unnamed)
- Gargoyle gecko (Armor)
- Leachianus geckos (Motley, Leenah, Quinby, Milo, Mirrah)
- Chahuoa geckos (Tag, Nimz, and two unnamed)
- Ball python (Damien)
- Rosy boas (Prince and Leyla)
- Brazilian rainbow boa (Bubbles)
- Russian tortoises (Carl and Eve)
- Brazilian red foot tortoises (Domino, Uno, Yertle)
- Northern red foot tortoise (Scuttle)
- Pacman frog (nameless)
- Dogs (Chance, Spot, Zabu, Spanky)
- Cat (Boots)
- Guinea Pigs (Stuart and Little)
- Rats (Zoe, Lexi, CoCo)
- Mice (no names)
- Chinchillas (Cheech, Chong, Chiko)
- Hamsters (Roxy, Rocky, Pebbles)
- Leopard geckos (Indi, Buffy)
- African fat tail geckos (Saber)
- P. Bastardi Bastardi (no names)
- Bearded dragons (Mali and Kina)
- Red foot tortoises (Pheonix, New Guy, and nameless)
- Sand boas (nameless)
- Many breeder leopard geckos, African fat tail geckos, gargoyle geckos, and crested geckos
I'm sure that I've forgotten a few reptiles here and there, but that's a close list of my pets.
Below, I've included a few pictures of some of my pets, as of 2010.