Dog, cat, mouse, rat, guinea pig, gerbil, hamster, rabbit, desert ground squirrel (chipmunk), parakeet, finch, canary, fish (various), leopard gecko, bibron’s gecko, chameleon, Burmese python, corn snake, desert tortoise… What do all of these creatures have in common? Over my lifetime, I have had them all as pets… People sometimes ask me if I am a dog person or a cat person – I would rather put it that I am a critter person. There is a little part of me like Ellie Mae (from the Beverly Hillbillies) that would happily bring home a baby bear, a porcupine, or a family of skunks if I could get away with it.

My current pet population is manageable – two dogs (Boston terriers), two bunnies, and three guinea pigs. They all live harmoniously, and my dogs know not to attack the smaller critters, despite the fact that they often run around the floor squeaking in a pitch very similar to many rubber dog toys.

There is a lot of work that goes into the feeding, care, and maintenance of a pet and I think many of us often forget the benefits of pet ownership. So, here are a few “pet positives” I would like share.

• Pets are often warm and fuzzy and typically good to snuggle. (Even reptiles like to curl up against a warm body.) While they require more care and attention than a stuffed animal, people don’t think you are (as) crazy if you start talking to your pet.

• Pets love you unconditionally – or at least they give the appearance that they do. And even crazy cat ladies need love in their lives.

• Your pet won’t grow up to be an axe murderer.

• You can put your pet in a cage when you leave the house and you won’t get arrested for it.

• Clothing for pets is purely optional, which also means that your pets won’t hate you if you don’t buy them those really awesome shoes they wanted.

• You don’t have to help put your pets through college.

• Your pets will not cry if they have a bad hair day.

• You can make fun of your pets and even film videos of them doing stupid things that you put on YouTube, and they won’t hate you for it.

• Pets are never embarrassed of you when you take them places, even when they see other pets with much more expensive leashes.

• You can do things in front of your pet that would scar a child for life.

• Your pet does not care how you dress and probably likes you even better on days you don’t take a shower.

• A pet will not complain about your crummy television viewing choices and you never have to fight them over who gets the remote control.

• Your pet will never wreck your car (and if they do, whose fault was that?)

• You don’t need to make up imaginary relationships when you always have the option of date night with your pet.