Not everyone loves pets. They can be a pain to feed, clean up after, train (if even possible), and keep safe and healthy. Did I mention the expense of feeding and keeping them healthy? Pets range from dogs and cats to birds, lizards, snakes, hamsters, fish and exotic beasts.
Sizes can vary as well, with each pet family offering up a wide array of choices. Pet snakes might be a two-foot garter snake or an eight-foot boa constrictor. A dog might be a chihuahua or a great dane. Factor in life style, and the difficulties can expand exponentially.
Losing a long-time pet companion, a member of the family, can be excruciating and can take years to recover from, if at all. Unfortunately, like many pet owners, this has happened to me several times during my life.
So, why have a pet? The simple answer is that they bring us joy. Though I'm partial to mammals and birds -- animals that have thinking brains -- I know of people with iguanas, turtles, frogs or even angelfish who believe that their pet companions love them.
Like many boys, I had a menagerie of animals as pets growing up. I even raised white lab rats. I've had a full spectrum of tropical fish, amphibians, reptiles, parakeets, rabbits, cats and dogs. I'm allergic to cats, so they aren't my choice, but in my mind they don't compare to dogs anyway. (Note to cat people: I'm not dissing cats. The tendencies and affections dogs show are just more my style.) I've never owned a horse, but my son and daughter-in-law have two.
Ask almost any dog owner what is the one thing that their dogs do that makes them happy and they'll say the same thing- giving them unconditional love. If you doubt this, just say goodbye and leave the house, then return in two minutes to retrieve your keys and they will act like you've been gone all day. Come home from a terrible day at the office and they can show so much excitement to see you that your troubles can melt away.
We had the pleasure of visiting my daughter and her partner in Seattle last summer and I was a little worried before arriving. I knew they had parakeets and a cockatiel that they let fly free in their house. I needn't have been concerned. They loved us.
Many of my friends and followers chimed in for this topic. Here are some of the great comments I received (I've edited or paraphrased some):
Lisa’s Fabulous Adventure- My fur kids are with me all the way. When I chill they chill. They watch after all the details of my RV life. No one walks by or they'll sound the alarm, and when it is playtime they are ready with a toy in tow. I have a sheltie named Dash (8 years old) and her companion dog named Mercury (age 6). Also, a quick story: my mom got a cockatiel for her birthday one May and my step-dad said it had to go! So, that June she gave it to me for my birthday. Well, not knowing anything about birds, I decided to give it to my Daughter for her birthday the following January. We affectionately refer to it as the birthday bird. It takes special people to take on a pet that has the potential to outlive them.
Patty H. B.- Our two girls (dogs) are from a shelter. They have very different personalities, but they fit right in to our family. They ARE family. They give comfort when I'm sick or sad. I had open heart surgery earlier this year to replace a valve. They were so gentle with me.
Sharon M.- I've had so many wonderful "once-in-a-lifetime" dogs, each one an individual and each one different. No matter how difficult my day has been, when I walk in the door, my dogs think that is the best thing that has happened to them all day. They never lie to you. They always let you know you are the most important thing in their lives. They will never abandon you for someone that is prettier, or has more money, or a fancier car.
Lisa E.- They don't judge. They just are and they are deeply tuned into me. If I am sad they get silly and I know it's to make me laugh. If I am sick they won't leave my side. They are gentle and yet protective. They take up a huge space in my home, my life and my heart. They are my fur babies!
Kathy S.- Dogs provide unconditional love and companionship. Plus, they don't care if you've been sick and in the same pajamas for three days. They'll still snuggle! Dogs truly have the ability to provide emotional comfort.
Jennifer H.- I have three dogs and they are all my favorite. They all have their own personalities -- Lucy always cuddles with me in the morning when I’m drinking my coffee, Buster cuddles with me when I get home from work and Brooklyn cuddles with me when it’s bed time. They all sleep in the bed with us and have their spots. Lucy is on the pillow above our heads, Buster at our feet and Brooklyn, the biggest one, squeezes right between us. We love them like children.
Tina and Eugene K.- My dog makes sure my blood sugar is where it needs to be, day or night. I have no clue that my blood sugar is dropping when I sleep. Charlie is my 3rd service dog. She warns me if it goes to high or too low.
Cheryl (CKU)- I have a 7-year-old sheltie named Lacey who assists me by hearing things that I can’t hear. Love her to the moon and back!
Tink & Chuck- What makes me happy about my cat is not only does he give me unconditional love, he has taken on the role of nurse maid to take care of me. When ever I'm not feeling well, he will spend the day snuggled up on my lap. If I'm having a migraine, he crawls up on my pillow and lays close to my head and begins to purr. He reminds when it's meal time and bed time. When our animals pick us and bond with us, they some how connect with us on a level that we can't even comprehend. My cat knows when I am going to have a seizure before I have one. Another reason to be happy is that deeper connection that our pets form with us when they choose us and make that bond. It may not be something that we can fully reciprocate, but it's a big part of what makes us think of them as our children or members of our family.
Nadyne H.- All animals considered, I will always prefer a dog. That said, at age 13 my mother helped me buy a pet squirrel monkey. I'd always loved monkeys and she happened to see one for sale in the newspaper in Tucson AZ. I adored my little guy, Andy, and spent several years with him as my constant companion when not in school. Summers were great, he got up, had his bath in the bathroom sink, then went out to the backyard to play all day. He never ran off and stayed in the yard. He would try to make occasional dashes into the back door for a treat from the sugar bowl or fruit basket, but overall he played out back and rode our pet dog around all day. Winters he was diapered after his bath and then tethered to dad's prize elk antlers in the dining room. He played all day on his "monkey bars" and had to have regular diaper changes. That was VERY embarrassing for me when friends were over.... I cut disposable diapers into triangles, punched a hole in the correct spot for his tail, and zigzagged around the outer edges on the sewing machine. I'd whip up a few dozen at one time and they'd last awhile. Eventually he went on to live with a member of the local Simian Society in Tucson and even won an award and appeared in the newspaper! I sure loved my little Andy and owning a monkey was truly a once in a lifetime experience!
Kevin/Yvonne & 4 Doxies- They keep my wife happy, and that is a good thing. Actually, one big reason we full-time in an RV is that we wanted to travel and their companionship was a necessity.
Steve/Aileen P.- Our Sasha girl was the best doggie ever. She loved to go with us in the RV and loved to go on walks with us. Appreciate your fur babies!! We still look for her and for her cute ways she begged for human food.
BLSMSS- Our husky was actually my husband's before we met and married. She chose me to be her primary owner. When we had our log cabin, we would sit on the porch and she would come up and sit next to be and rub so I would pet her. She was funny, drink my coffee if I left it on the porch floor, play ball and make tunnels in the snow. She would protect me from a certain person, growling only at one particular person.
Dave and Susie- My pups seem to know when my PTSD is in a bad place. Of course, they see the effects of it but it's not until I lay down that they really go to work. Though they've never been trained, they snuggle up around my legs very tightly. Normally, they're the snuggly type, but when I'm extremely upset, they almost seal me inside my blankets. It doesn't feel confining, nor does it feel claustrophobic. I don't know if anyone has benefited by weighted blankets but it feels very comfortable. They're so much more than life-buds -- they've saved my life more times than I can count.
Lindsay (The Picturesque One)- My cats make great company for me because I don’t want to be tied down to them and they don’t care if I’m there or not. Except night when they want to watch TV in my lap and share my bed.
Trish and John- I have a Jack Russell called Poppy, age nearly 13. I love the way she welcomes us back to the RV, not with barking but with love and attention. She knows when we have showered and dressed and then asks for her morning walk. Everything about her is gentle.
Debbie in AL- My cat makes me happy when he understands what I'm telling him. He'll want to go out and go to the door, I say no and he walks away from the door. Gonna be different in a trailer!
WeBRollin- Pets have a way of enriching our lives like nothing else can. I have a sign in my motorhome that says, "Home is Where Someone Runs to Greet You," and I think that says it all. After I lost my husband three years ago, our border collie, Biscuit, became my constant companion and she loves to travel with me. She will watch out the windshield and when a vehicle meets us she will look to the side and try to grab it -- that herding instinct.
As a cute finishing thought, I'll turn to Novelist Anne Tyler. "Ever consider what pets must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul - chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!"
Thanks, everyone, for your contributions! Another topic will be posted shortly.
To some, a trip to a museum is an invitation to take a nap. How can a recreated bedroom from the 19th century possibly be interesting? Native American artifacts? Seen them. An actual Union Army uniform from the Civil War? Ho-hum.
Well, that's some people. Not us.
As we travel the country, one of the perks is to visit museums in different regions, often displaying items from the history of that specific area. My wife, Nadyne, is especially interested in historical museums and I very much enjoy art and natural history. In either case, we feel a special connection to nature and the past that we would not have enjoyed otherwise. There is a peculiar feeling one can experience if they see or touch an item centuries old. One can imagine the people who may have made it, used it, painted it, wore it, lived in it or wrote about it, and realize they were not much different from us today. Enter a building marked, "Washington slept here," and one can feel the goose bumps thinking about occupying the same space now that the Father of our Country did in the 1700's. When I see a fossil or meteorite, I am in awe of the pure age of it.
So, yes, museums make us happy. I don't think we'll ever get bored visiting them.
I received many exceptional replies to my inquiry to people about what makes them happy about museums. Here are a few of those comments (and I've edited or paraphrased some):
Jeanne W.- I love looking back at history in museums, but some of them are starting to make me feel like I should be in there, too. It brings back childhood memories to see books, toys, dishes, etc. from when I was a kid.
Cate H.- Quiet. A moment to step out of myself and soak up beauty, history, ingenuity, and stoke my own creative fires.
Cathy R.- I like to imagine what it must've been like to be the subject of a portrait or to have lived in the original home of the artwork, to have been present when it was created and to understand why. It love to connect with the emotion of a piece. Diaries and letters are my favorite museum pieces, along with any other personal items of historical significance. Their stories fascinate me.
Nadyne H.- I love history museums... any history about anywhere! War museums, or old forts, remind me of all those that have sacrificed their lives for this country. Leaves me in awe...
Peggy H.- I love museums! Nowhere else can you find collections of the world's most interesting and beautiful treasures. I always wish I had a couple of days to explore and appreciate all of the exhibits properly. I also wish there were more seats so my feet didn't hurt so bad the next day... I'd hate to rent an electric cart, since I don't really need one, but I'd get through more of the museum that way.
Habadabeer- For me, a museum dedicated to exploration, adventure, heroism, or progress is a sure draw. The same holds true for anything hands-on. I can take or leave most art museums and the like; just not for me. I could, however, spend days at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont, the Air and Space or Smithsonian Museums at the National Mall, or something like the Corning Museum of Glass, or the Strong Museum of Play. I’m certain I would love to visit Meow Wolf in Santa Fe. One of our more recent experiences was a visit to the Steamtown National Historic Site in Pennsylvania. And that may be the crux for me: a museum must offer me more than exhibits to view, it must leave me with the feeling of having experienced something.
TheClearyClan- We have had the grandkids to Steamtown three times now, they love it. I love it to.
Kevin/Yvonne & 4 Doxies- Bemused would be a better term about the last few museums I visited. They were the small community historical type museums in Alaska. The amount of tools and equipment I had either used or given away two years ago when we sold our sticks-and-bricks that were on display was amazing.
BLSMSS- Museums make me happiest when I see children there being fascinated about what they see. I'm happy about how the artifacts came to be there, how things were made with little technology, and such intricate work and colors. Museums make me happy when I find out part of my family had something to do with what was inside -- I recently found a Great Uncle was in Civil War. When I was a kid, my father would drag us to all the forts on the east coast, and it wasn’t interesting. But that has changed. We went to the Nimitz museum here in Texas and it took us three hours just outside. So fascinating to see how things were built and the people involved.
Tracie and Roy S.- Gives you an opportunity to imagine what life would be like
Habadabeer- One “museum” on my bucket list is the USS Olympia in Philadelphia. It was the flagship of Admiral Dewey after whom my Grandfather was named. While he was in the Navy, my grandfather was assigned to that ship, and shoveled coal across the Atlantic to Russia. My brother took my Dad (another Navy vet) to visit several years ago and were able to talk the custodians into letting him visit every boiler so he could say he saw the one his father had manned! I'm told one of the last missions of the Olympia and her crew was to transport the body of the Unknown Soldier back to the U.S. to be laid to rest.
I'll end with an oft-heard and paraphrased quote by writer and philosopher George Santayana, who once said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Thanks, everyone, for your contributions! Another topic will be posted shortly.
There's a lot about driving people dislike, i.e. traffic jams, accidents, tickets, and more. They don't call it "road rage" for nothing. But, it's not all bad.
In fact, I've LOVED driving since I first sat behind the wheel. My dad owned a gas station and I started working summers there when I was twelve. The service station was also a U-Haul dealer and by the time I was fourteen, I was moving those big U-Haul trucks around the lot and getting them parked. I bought my first car when I turned 16 and get my license. It was a 1962 white Econoline pickup, and drove that truck with glee for a couple of years before buying a muscle car when I was nearly eighteen.
Being the oldest of seven siblings, driving was wonderful for me for two reasons -- freedom and exploration. By the time I was into my twenties, I had already driven from L.A. to San Francisco, to Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, Modesto and Merced in the Big Valley, and Joshua Tree National Forest. I was a true explorer and have been ever since. No wonder we moved into our RV the moment we could. Since then, the sights have been innumerable, and I wouldn't trade those memories for anything.
Lets not forget that this country would be very different had it not been for the automobile. Just driving a few miles on Route 66 or US Highway 20 can give you an appreciation for the mass exodus to Rural America from the east coast city life.
I received many great replies to my inquiry to people about what makes them happy about driving. Here are a few of those comments (and I've edited or paraphrased some):
K. Burkhart- I do enjoy driving fast in a car designed for it -- one that makes the speeding ticket worth it.
BLSMSS- The peace it gives you on those long, mostly uninhabited, roads. Miles of beauty and nature. Places you can see that you never thought could get any better. People you meet on the way that has the graciousness to be kinder than most. The memories and good conversations you have, especially with you the one you love. Perfect! We take little day trips to see where a less traveled rode goes to. Most often you see beautiful landscapes of mountains, quarry like valleys and all kinds of wildlife. Even traveling on roads nearby, we are amazed of the wild flowers and cactus types there are. As we travel throughout our part of the country, it reminds me of the old John Wayne movies, watching him ride through the landscape to get to the next town. There seems to be something jaw-dropping around every corner as we drive. We are so blessed .
topsarge- I love driving...anything. I've been behind the wheel of two-wheelers, off-roaders, independent-wheel-suspension Jeeps, generators, heaters, cars, pick-up trucks, cargo trucks, semi-trucks, tanks, APC's (Armored Personnel Carriers). The happiest I had ever been was driving the VTR (Vehicle Tank Retriever), 65 tons of brute strength that could go anywhere and do anything, and I have driven these vehicles the world over. I got close a couple of times to getting the opportunity to drive race cars. I would have been extremely happy to do that. I knew my abilities and the ability of the equipment and because of that, I was often told, I was crazy. I called myself smart, and that made me happy. Blue skies and sunshine!
Nadyne H.- Easy...what makes me extremely happy is a SMOOTH road! Knowing that the inside of our nomad home isn't getting rearranged by the road gives me peace and happiness! I used to LOVE driving fast! When I was ticketed for 120 mph in a 55 mph zone, the fine reeled me back in.
Peggy H.- For a commuter in LA traffic, what I look forward to is time for my podcasts and beautiful sunrises. My road trip is daily, and last 1-2 hours each way. Anything that helps me spring out of bed every morning to face all of that is something to be happy about!
Tink & Chuck- My reason to be happy driving is the promise of a new sun sets with a beautiful view. I have almost as many sunset pictures on my phone as I do pictures of my fur baby!
RicU- We drove down and back from Dallas/Fort Worth and loved it. It’s still good country to spend time in.
Bob & Maria- Knowing you are going somewhere new, seeing something different.
BobbieK- I love the anticipation of exploring a new place and experiencing new things.
24States2Go- The changes in landscape as I change areas, hills to valley, lush green to desert, lakes and streams... I also see license plates and wonder where people are headed or coming from, look at their stickers or emblems, especially RV'ers.
L.D.Clark- After 5 million+ miles I can say honestly everything -- adventure, making new friends, so many things. Life on the road my whole life has been awesome!
Canadian Hellie- I like the scenery, buildings and most of all, just being with hubby and chatting or being quiet and listening to some tunes or even a talk show on occasion. I love reading license plates, too. I also love trying to make animals, etc., out of clouds; some are very easy; others not so much.
PokeysRVadventures- All of the above plus music playing as I'm driving.
Zak- There is no comparison to driving through the country in a picture window, served up as a windshield. Class 'A' was my choice, wide and open. I would never change that decision. An album full of pics could never compare to what I've observed..... fresh with my own eyes....
LarandSus- Knowing that there is nothing else I need to be doing in that moment.
Lisa’s Fabulous Adventure- I just like to drive, which makes no sense to me! I have driven solo most of my adult life but not in a Class C. It is different and a little more stressful, but I still love it.
Kevin/Yvonne & 4 Doxies- Doing the driving, not being driven. Definitely prefer being in the driver's seat.
MikelicCC- This is so me! I LOVE driving! I feel the most free when I'm playing my tunes with my top down, I always just want to keep going!
D. & L. Hogeweide- When everyone in front of me is actually using their signals and driving safe
Buddy and Cathy- Driving good roads other than interstate unless you need to travel faster. Much more scenery.
Lilypop- Driving from Florida to North Carolina (7.5 hrs) at 11 pm on a Monday. Such an easy and pleasant drive on cruise control that you never have to disengage
Dean & Lynne- Enjoying the scenery that I have not seen before, but having good roads and traffic is what it is all about in my opinion.
Jerry Beasler- I have always loved driving from as far back as I can remember. So as soon as I could drive I did and then I wanted more so I go CDL- Class A, Then I added the passenger rating as well as air brake, Well, what happened next I took to the skies and got my pilot's license and added retractable rating and high performance and complex ratings. I am also an experienced marine captain. I love driving and the challenges it presents.
I'll close with a quote from Tom Hanks: "Growing up in northern California has had a big influence on my love and respect for the outdoors. When I lived in Oakland, we would think nothing of driving to Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz one day and then driving to the foothills of the Sierras the next day."
Thanks, everyone, for your contributions! Another topic will be posted shortly.
If you ever wonder if food makes people happy, all you need to do is walk through a campground on a Saturday morning and let the smell of sizzling bacon and hot coffee fill your senses. Okay, maybe not if you are a veggie person, but I'm sure you understand. Food is behind only air and water in our day-to-day survival needs and we as a species have made the most of it (with the help of fire, of course).
I put out an inquiry to my "four F's" (friends, family, fans and followers) as to how food makes them happy or optimistic and I've included a few of their responses below, with their permission.
My own answers are varied. As a carnivore, I am optimistic for the brilliant future of meat production. Not only are more humane and natural processes being put in place, but I am very much looking forward to mass-produced lab-grown meat. When they perfect the texture, taste and consistency, which isn’t too far off, it could drastically scale back raising and killing livestock.
Second, have you ever stopped by a restaurant and ordered a dish that ended up being very similar to something your mother used to make? I have had the occasion to experience this and have enjoyed the memories immensely. It seems that sound, smell and taste can take you right back to a point in your past, no matter how remote, and food encompasses two of those.
Last, I'll say that there is little in life that is more satisfying as enjoying one of the best steaks, fried chicken, corned beef and cabbage, grande burritos, or whatever you fancy as your favorite meal, that you've ever had. I'll grant you that it doesn't happen often enough, but when it does, bliss.
From the comments I've received (and I've edited or paraphrased some):
P. Bourell- We should be happy that we have an abundance of food.
S. Michael- I lived in Spain for several years in the late-60s/early-70s (military husband) and "discovered" cafe con leche. I had never been a coffee enthusiast but I got truly addicted to this. When we returned to the U.S., cappuccino had definitely not yet arrived so I experimented and discovered a way to make "chocolate coffee" in the microwave that tasted very much like the Spanish cafe con leche I loved. I still make it every morning and the first sip is often the best moment of my entire day.
K. Burkhart- Love, love, love Spanish coffee. We also discovered it on our first trip to Spain. Food and travel go together for us -- we can always remember different things we try while traveling. We are adventurous eaters.
C. Veney- My husband loves food-- any kind and anywhere!
T. Thomas- Food lures my teenagers out of their "caves" (aka bedrooms) and fills them up so they can... do... whatever they are doing in their caves. I am grateful that they appreciate my cooking and enjoy "real" food -- food as Nature intended it to be (not processed or made in a factory). I like that food brings us together.
N. Huber- I started using Cholula sauce a few years ago.... that's the"adventure" limit for me... but it makes many meals very enjoyable! Also, let's not forget that joy I feel when the crispy tacos at a restaurant means the corn tortilla was freshly fried, not pulled out of a box!
A. Ashley- I've convinced my husband that he has to come up with our dinner entree idea every other night. I'll still cook, but it makes my life so much easier. Some of his ideas are pretty interesting! They say one of the hardest parts of adulting is figuring out what to have for dinner every night. Now we have fun with it.
D. Ramsey- I went to college in London and in the winter you could buy chestnuts roasted over an open fire! Still one of my best food experiences.
V. Cryer- When I lived in Okinawa for four years and sometimes we would not get meat shipped in from the US (this was many many year’s ago). We would have to depend on old faithful SPAM. We learned a great many ways to cook spam, including chicken-fried and barbecued. I have learned what ever food you have in the pantry- just be creative!
K. McCridhe- I've been interested in hydroponics for a couple decades now and have been seeing almost a boom of information and hacks this past year. I've even seen a few that just might work for mobile folks. I've also seen a couple 12-volt refrigerators that just might be in my budget. Being a fan of fresh food, this makes me happy!
BLSMSS- When we travel and find a place that serves food we see how different people make the same dish and wonder what their story was on why they make it that way. When friends ask about my food, I love telling them how I came to make it that way. I love stories like that or even hearing people talk about the same food made in different places around the country.
I'll close with a quote from Robert Frost: "Laughter is brightest where food is best."
Thanks, everyone, for your contributions! Another topic will be posted shortly.
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.