Animals have always revolved around our lives, or rather, our lives have always revolved around our animals.

Animals have always revolved around our lives, or rather, our lives have always revolved around our animals. No matter whether we are breeders, farmers, caretakers, or just have a few mangy mutts or fussy felines strutting about, we think of them not as our pets, but our children. We would do anything for them, go anywhere
for the best care, and pay as much as we can for their favorite meal.

My family and I live on a farm with four beautiful
horses, a house cat, a couple other cats that live in our barn, and three dogs, two of whom we are looking after for my brother and his family who are coming back from Pretoria, South Africa early this June. My mom manages and volunteers for the thrift store located above the Humane Society of Polk County, across from Happy Joe’s, and every day she goes into the dog and cat rooms and wants to bring every one of them home.

Studies have shown that keeping a pet aids the owner's blood pressure and over-all cardiac health. When a person pats a dog or
strokes a cat on their lap, the physical contact relieves and reduces stress levels in the human body. Also, taking care of a pet has shown that people who own pets tend to live longer lives than those who don't. Taking care of a pet may give a lonely elderly person the sense of purpose to their life that is essential to good physical and emotional health.

Filling the role of the caretaker helps people lose focus on their minor health issues, and instead they focus on their pet. Currently, the Humane Society is debating on an outdoor sunroom for the cats, and a meet and greet area for all animals so the humans and animals can to get to know each other more before adoption, as well as an exercise spot for any pets residing at the shelter.

We have always been wondering what our pets have been thinking of us, of our life styles, and their own lives. They can’t tell us by
word of mouth, but we are learning through visual aids that animals give off.

If a dog’s tail is wagging wide and fast, it means they
are friendly and happy to see you. A loose, horizontal
wag means they are neutral and unsure. Dogs wag their
tails more to the right when they see someone they like,
and more to the left when they see a stranger or an intimidating dog. Some cats “chatter” when they see a bird from a window, maybe from frustration, excitement or anticipation. Cats often
lick vigorously to hide their embarrassment after missing a jump or falling from a chair. Sometimes, my dog winks at me. I always return the gesture in case it’s some sort of code my dog has.

My cat, Dot, always greets me with a joyous outcry whenever I enter a room, wake up, or come home. She was the best of friends
with J.D., a white Pomeranian breed when they lived in the 2010 flood in Minot, N.D. and had to move out. The owners had
found an apartment in Grand Forks, but it allowed no pets. They came into the shelter in Crookston where Dot became reclusive and depressed. The shelter had tried to keep J.D. and Dot
together, but only J.D. had found a new home. With Dot’s life-long friend gone, she had noticeably become thin and was antisocial.

We brought her home for Christmas break in 2011 and she gradually went back to her old self.

Yes, animals have played a big part in our lives, but I think we are even a bigger part in theirs.