My favourite holiday is Thanksgiving because being grateful and appreciative of one's blessings has to be one of the best feelings around. I love how peaceful it is and I love how even the leftovers are delicious.
This year, I'm especially thankful for my wonderful pets.
I used to be skeptical of people's bonds with animals and would roll my eyes whenever I deemed that someone was overly obsessed with their pet. While I liked the company of animals, I just couldn't understand when people would become so emotional when it comes to their pets and treated them like family members because I didn't see them as such, I just saw them as cute little friends that provided me with amusement. It wasn't until recently that this started to change.
A couple of months before my birthday, my sister got me a guinea pig. I named him Chuckie, after myself. (I got him for my birthday, after all.) He was the last piggy in the store and he was on sale for $10. The store attendant almost thought that they didn't have any more pigs because at the time, Chuckie was hiding under the little piggy house. When the owner lifted the dome, he scurried away. He was a difficult pig, but I loved him - we all did - and a few months later I had three guinea pigs. Chuckie was the mean one, Teddy was the chatty baby and Billy was the clever furry potato. I really liked the noises they made, their varied personalities, and I even liked their stink.
My sister then bought a rabbit on sale, who we named Lola. The first time I met her, she perched her front paws on my chest and started licking my lips enthusiastically. I laughed hysterically.
Meanwhile, there was a rabbit who was roaming around the neighbourhood who would feed on the lawns of various people and eat scraps. It was rather clumsy but managed to evade capture until January of next year, after a particularly bad snow storm. On that day, I was walking home from school when I spotted him eating from my neighbours garbage bin when I decided to capture him. I sliced up an apple and approached him slowly. I took what he was eating and threw it far away, and offered him the apple slice instead. He slowly came to me and when I caught him, he only struggled briefly before he allowed himself to be carried by me. I plopped him on the carpet and he's been with me since. I named him Bugs after finding out that he's a boy because we hoped that he'd have bunnies with Lola.
Within months, I had five pets. Even when my mom forced me to give away my guinea pigs the following year, more animals found their way in my life. My sister adopted Coltrane the next summer, who proved to be quite the demon.
During the winter, I found an injured cat sitting on the seat inside the bus stop I normally go to. I was late for class because I had to run back home and leave her there but it was worth it. I came home and named her Emma because her eyes are green like emeralds. She's a feisty kitty, but she's been nothing but sweet to me.
Today, I live with Bugs and Emma. I love them both to bits, and for different reasons. I love Bugs because he is the cutest and smartest animal I've ever met. Once he saw my sister's 6-inch steak sub on the dining table and decided to hop up the chair and devour it. I've never met an animal with an appetite like his. He learned how to use a litter box quickly and recognizes the sound of the fridge opening, crinkling of bags, and the faucet turning. He's quite the charmer, and he has a fan club. Even though he lived in the wild before, he warmed up to living with me quickly, eventually growing to love being held and pet. Sometimes he can be defiant, but it makes me like him all the more. He's an incredibly hardy pet, surviving diarrhea (a serious problem for rabbits) and he's eaten meat, pastries, sweets, and chocolate without having any adverse reactions. For some reason he pees on people who I don't like, but is nevertheless a great sport for everyone else. He's incredibly patient and will put up with petting and cuddling. He licks me all the time and has never bitten me. He's never destroyed any of my items in spite of my messiness, and he always warns me when he needs to do his business. He gladly eats my leftovers and scraps when I offer it to him and even eats crumbs off the floor if I drop food. He approaches me or greets me whenever I come to him, even now that he is sick - he is struggling to get up and gets hurt in the process. I admire his determination, whether it's his desire to eat something, to his desire to keep doing his thing despite his illness.
Meanwhile, Emma is incredibly loyal. When I discovered her, she was dirty, had cuts on her face, had a crooked spine, and walked with a limp and now she's grown so much and is so healthy. I admire how she loves people so much, even though I have a feeling that she was abandoned by her previous owners. Even though she was sassy with Coltrane, she was always gentle with me, preferring to cuddle up with me instead of doing her own thing. She learned her name very quickly and comes running to me when I call her. From the beginning, she's always followed me around, and she's always purring. I don't think I know an animal who is as happy and easily pleased as she is. Though she has her quirks, I can tell that she's always trying her best to make me happy. She gets upset when she notices that I'm annoyed with her, rather than when I spank her in frustration. She gladly eats spiders and other bugs for me, and she's always watching the perimeters of the apartment for squirrels and strangers. She likes to lick Bugs incessantly, much to his annoyance. Right now, Bugs is sick and she's been sitting beside him and watches him. One time when I was alone crying, she squeezed herself in between my lap and licked the tears from my face until I stopped.
When I leave, the both of them are often there to watch me leave. When I come home, both of them come to me, are joyous to see me return and it makes me feel so at home. When I eat, I eat with them and they enjoy my company. I feel incredibly lucky to have them in my life, and I thank them for teaching me that love and bonds should not be limited to my imagined proximity to others. I thank them for their kindness, for never judging me and for always loving me on both my good and bad days. I thank them for helping me understand what it means to be a friend, and how to be a constant source of joy to those I care about. I find myself realizing how fortunate I am to be considered as their owner, and I ever encountered people who treat me with the same kindness and respect that they do, I should consider myself so lucky that I have so many amazing friends.
I thank all the pets for their love, their friendship, and all the happy memories that they've given us. I'm grateful for the humbling lesson they've given us and continue to remind us each day, that small acts of love can have leave such a significant impact on others.
If you're reading this and you have pets, give them a hug or a treat! Thank you to all the pets that we have now, and those that we had then. I am grateful that we have the privilege to be a part of their lives.