I'm sure I talk about my pets too much, but today is Love Your Pet Day, so I believe I have a pass.

I'm not really going to talk about Freddie, my dog, or Harriet, my cat. I just want to examine some statistics from nationaltoday.com about pets.

• The most popular pets in America are dogs, (40%), followed by cats, fish, birds, hamsters/gerbils/mice, snakes, horses, guinea pigs, lizards and tarantulas.

I thought the word "pet" meant something you could hold and love, so I'm not sure what some of those critters are doing there.

• More than 80 million homes in the United States have dogs; more than 42% of those homes have more than one.

• Dogs have more than 100 million facial expressions. That's hard for me to believe. Then again, it's hard for me to believe the number 100 million exists.

• A pack of kittens is called a kindle, while a pack of adult cats is called a chowder. 

• Twelve percent of Americans let their pet sleep in bed with them. I would have thought that number would have been bigger. There is nothing more comforting than to sleep with your pet, for the pet and the human.

• Ten percent of Americans talk to their pet in a special voice. Well, of course.

• Most say they're grateful for their pets because it gives them unconditional love and comforts them when they're sad. Most importantly, pets can help you become more loving and patient. We can all use more of that.

• Spending time with animals is a great way to get a boost in feel-good hormones and has even been shown to improve blood pressure.

• Cats are more popular with women than with men: 26% of women have a cat, while only 22% of men do.

• Playing with your pet is the most common way affection is shown, but pet owners also give treats and gifts to their pets, tell them they love them, cuddle with them and kiss them. Some even have conversations with them. I do. They never interrupt.

• Those who love pets want their families to love them, too. In fact, 22% of pet owners want a potential spouse to treat their pet like a family member and to express outward affection to animals. They want them to be a "pet parent."

When I was married, my husband had four dogs and we acquired more. At one time, we had six. I was playing with them one day and said to him, "You couldn't have found a wife who loves your dogs more than I do." He agreed.

The most important thing about this column isn't statistics or my silly remarks. It's this: Don't take an animal unless you're going to keep it, through thick and thin, sickness and health, and all those other circumstances you accept in your wedding vows. We domesticated dogs and cats and we owe it to them and for the sake of decency to take care of them for as long as they live.


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