MY DOG-CRAZY youngest daughter’s dream came true one day when my sister-in-law gifted her with a brown-colored dachshund. Needless to say, she was over the moon. Our cuddly pup was unanimously christened Soju by our KDrama-loving family.

I must admit, one of the reasons why it took me a while to say "yes" to my daughter having her very own pet was the huge responsibility that came with it.

At one point, Soju had a bite-anything habit, fearlessly destroying slippers, garden hoses, our car’s mudguard, floor mats, termite control traps, etc. Boy, these were the moments that my patience was seriously tested! But, all these seemed to pass every time I witnessed the pure joy of my daughter playing with her dear Soju.

What makes having a family pet worthwhile?... Just read on!

Jet-setting canine

Businesswoman Sharlene had her first golden retriever, Nashville, in high school. Morgan, another golden retriever, came into her life six years ago.

“I got Morgan in the U.S. from a golden retriever breeder and trainer named Alan Gunther. Alan also has a non-profit service dog organization, Service Companion Dogs of America (SCDOA), that provides service animals to people in need”, shares Sharlene.

Morgan finished his training and became a certified service dog at 10 months old. He was brought home to the Philippines when he was almost a year old. And, since then, has been pretty much around the Philippines, and abroad.

“He comes to work with me every day, flies inside the airplane cabin with me at all times (When you see a golden retriever in a red vest at the airport or on a plane, come and say hi!) and loves the beach”, reveals Sharlene.

Sharlene said that Morgan visits his trainer every year in San Diego; watches a lot of NFL games, shows and musicals; and absolutely loves the long drives especially in extreme winter weather.

The proud "mom" claims that Morgan is a dog of firsts. “He is the first dog to be allowed inside St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican for Mass with the Pope; first dog allowed inside many ancient Churches in Europe; and first dog to fly around the world in three days.”

“Morgan has done a lot in his life, and he's been the perfect home, work, and travel companion for me and the family,” smiles Sharlene.

Man’s best friend

Alyssa and Yeti have been dog lovers since they were young.

“My parents told me that I’ve loved animals even as a baby. Dogs have a special place in my heart. Usually, a toddler would ask for toys during their birthdays but as for me, all I wanted was a dog,” confesses Alyssa.

Yeti’s family always had dogs at home while he was growing up. In 1998, he got a bearded collie from Australia named Rebel, followed by another dog with the same breed, Bounce.

“They had a pup named Bonzi. Then, we got another bearded collie girl named Clover, who had pups Bruno and Sparkle,” says Yeti.

“Beardies are so active. They have tendencies to herd people. Rebel stayed with my Mom so she lived indoors and accompanied her to the office. The rest lived with me, outside the house but free to roam around the compound. They love to go out when the gate is opened, just to annoy the neighbor's dogs,” Yeti narrates.

In contrast, Alyssa did not just stick with one breed. Through the years, she owned a Shi Tzu, Dalmatian, golden retriever, poodle, mini pinscher, Lhasa apso, and a Yorkie spitz. She is currently a doting "mom" to two schnauzers, Cooper and BaoBao.

“I personally bathe them twice a week and groom their hair almost every day. Their after-shower grooming usually takes one to two hours. I go to a human salon once or twice a year. But, for my dogs, every 40 days!”, laughs Alyssa.

“Dogs are such a great example of unconditional love. They are always ready to love you, even if you have limited attention for them,” intimates Yet.

Bubbly Alyssa couldn’t agree more, “The first one[s] to greet me when I come home every day are my excited dogs. I feel so loved. Their loyalty is unmatched!”

Feline frenzy

Kirsteen and Micole have cared for dogs. However, having cats in the house is a novel experience for them.

“My three cats are named Oreo, Mochi and Yoshi. All of them are Persian cats. We gave Oreo her name because her fur color (white) reminded us of the cream filling in Oreo cookies; and Mochi, because her appearance highly resembles Mochi, the cat from the movie Big Hero 6. Yoshi, though far from his fur color (chocolate brown), is inspired by my son's favorite character in the Mario series, Yoshi,” divulges Kirsteen.

“Our cats sleep with us in the room. Mochi stays in between our pillow; Oreo sleeps beside me while Yoshi’s spot is under the bed. At 9:30 p.m., they will automatically go to pee and poop inside their litter box because they know it’s sleeping time already,” relates Kirsteen.

Micole’s family has five dogs, and two cats named MiuMiu and Ivo. “We got MiuMiu for free while Ivo was bought at a pet shop. I gave MiuMiu her name because she ‘meows’ a lot. On the other hand, Ivo got his name because my mom’s name is Ivy,” explains the charming Micole.

For somebody in Grade 9, Micole reflects that caring for pets is a good training ground. “I learned to be responsible because of my pets. They are a source of happiness and entertainment, and keep me company as well,” ends Micole.

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