I let the dogs out

Sassy, Rasky and Zippy with mommy.

Sassy, Rasky and Zippy with mommy.

By Maricar CP Hampton

On most mornings, I give Sassy, Rasky and Zippy a tummy rub before I leave for my chores for the day. When I get home, they gather at my feet playfully begging for food or attention. I walk them daily and bring them to pet groomers when they need their nails clipped or their shag trimmed. Call me a proud dog owner. I belong to a population of 46 million American pet-owning households projected to spend about $53 billion this year on our beloved home companions.

Growing up in the Philippines, I was not really exposed to animals except during school field trips to the zoo. As a matter of fact, I was scared of dogs. At that time I couldn’t imagine myself owning a dog. It seemed like a big responsibility having to bathe them, feed them and take them out on their rounds for their “business.”

All that changed when my stepdad took my mom and me to a doggie store in Laurel.

“Pop, a pet store, you gotta be kidding me!” But I went anyway. While both my parents chose a 2-month-old Lhasa Apso, I stood there afraid of even touching the innocent-looking fur ball.

After some coaxing from my parents, I began to touch this new addition to our household. Although I held Sassy in my arms I was still afraid, not that she would bite me, but more like I might drop her. Thus began my love affair with canines of all kinds.

Caring for a dog is a big thing here in the U.S. They become part of the family, no different from raising your own children. It has its perks only a dog lover will understand.

After Sassy, we eventually had Rasky, a Shih Tzu, and Zippy, a Havanese. They have definitely brought joy into our lives. Like many pet owners, I went through “potty-training” episodes with them. When they were puppies, I had to wake up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning just to let them out in the bathroom. I lost a lot of sleep.

When they needed to be spayed or neutered, I was there holding their paws while they healed from surgery. My dogs visit the vet more often than I visit my doctor. Yes, I often put the needs of my dogs before my own, just like a parent does for a child.

Sassy, Rasky and Zippy don’t need a college education, but I provide for them. I make sure they have food and water, they are bathed, they get haircuts and nails get trimmed, they get their exercise from running around the yard, they have toys to play with and that they have a safe and secure place to live in.

I love my dogs and know my dogs love me. It’s the best feeling in the world. My dogs make me laugh. I look forward to coming home to my babies.
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