Have you ever recognized we can watch movies with endless amounts of gory, gruesome, ghastly fights between humans, and not shed one lousy single tear? However, the minute a lion gets trampled by wildebeests, a killer whale gets freed, or a family dog passes away… we immediately choke up. We try to convince ourselves that it’s just a movie, we are strong, we can hold the tears back. But just how Fletcher Reede’s truth spilled out of his mouth, our tears roll down our cheeks uncontrollably. And if you’re a man rolling your eyes straight to the back of your head, you clearly haven’t seen Simba lose his father or Jesse say bye to Willy, and surely you’ve never seen the Grogans bury their family dog.
But why is this? How can we possibly carry so much love for something that can’t even talk back to us? I love my first dog more than sharks love blood (shout out to the Underwoods), but sometimes Nahla (my boxer/beagle) has taught me some hard lessons that needed to be learned. So, I’m here to give props to ALL of our first animals, plus share some of the many things we learn that make us love them.
- Keeping Clean. After having to leave the house commando several days in a row from a lack of underwear, I now understand the importance of picking up my dirty laundry instead of leaving it on my bedroom floor. Whether it’s dirty underwear, your fresh pair of Nike’s, or your $300 tiger-striped retainer, I think we can all attest that our first animals proved our moms right: always clean up your room.
- Hiding Food. Unless you enjoy a little extra slobber on your steak, your first animal will teach you to put those leftovers in the fridge quicker than “Poor little Tink-Tink” (thanks for the reference, Katt Williams). No matter how well trained your dog is, if you leave some chicken on your counter, the next time you’ll see that chicken is when you pick it up from the ground… in brown format.
- Close the Throne. For you ladies out there looking to teach your man to put down the toilet seat, I promise you nothing will work faster than sending them a snapchat of your dog slurping out of the porcelain pot the next time they lick their face.
- Feed me. If you don’t feed a cat, you’ll find a bird at your doorstep (and they don’t even have the courtesy to wrap it). If you don’t feed your dog, you may find yourself with a broken pantry door, a torn-open box of Oreos, or most commonly, you’ll be out $30 because you have to buy a whole new bag of dog food. Owning your first pet will certainly teach you how to be responsible for another life (R.I.P Noisy the Hamster, 1997-1997, I swear I thought I fed you).
- Warranties Save. We’ve all heard the chatty salesman try to rip us off with dumb warranties, but I’m here to justify, with your first animal, WARRANTIES ARE YOUR GOD. Get it. RIGHT NOW. Otherwise you might find yourself in my shoes, spending a few hundred dollars reupholstering your couch, or spending $54 to replace one of your roommates X-box controllers. (The shitty part is you don’t even play video games.)
- Did I Mention Cleaning? Either purchase a good carpet cleaner, or don’t bank on getting your first apartment’s deposit money back. It’s as simple as that.
- They Bug You. Probably the most memorable lesson my dog taught me was that fleas are now your new relatives: they’ll pop in randomly, won’t leave for days, and cause more agita than you thought possible. Go ahead and add fleas to the list of STD’s that your partner should be on the lookout for. Symptoms may include itching, cursing, and the best one yet: an imminent break up.
- Roommate selection is crucial. Not because they cook, clean or take out the trash, but more importantly, will they murder you in your sleep when your dog pisses on their bed a week after you move in? If not… they’re a keeper.
- No, Just No. And last but not least… the importance of saying, “NO.” Without a stern N-O, you’ll without a doubt end up with pink eye from all the places they want to stick their butt: your bed, your pillow, and just your face in general. My dog taught me something that D.A.R.E. failed to accomplish: JUST SAY NO.
After a while, you start to become one with this loving creature of yours (literally… because it’s damn near impossible to leave the house without fur all over you). Eventually, you start to realize that all the anger and frustration you used to feel now manifests itself as a wry grin and soft chuckle, especially after they put their ears back and look at you with those “Puss and Boots” eyes.
So without further ado… props to our first little shits that showed us how to love, care, and be responsible for ourselves and for another. They’re worth it, and they know it.