Family Life: Pets

Family Life at Mustard Seed Sentinel
Credit: Manuel Meza


by Diane Burton

Do you have a pet? Have you ever had one? Growing up, I always wanted a dog. With seven kids, the last thing my mom wanted was something else to look after. Instead of considering that, Dad bought a pure-bred boxer puppy. Dumb as a post, a runner, and whatever dog food she ate came right back up. Just what Mom wanted to do—clean up dog vomit, as well as baby puke. One day, the dog ran off. At least, that’s what Mom said. I hope she (the dog, not Mom) found a good home.

As an adult, I still wanted a dog. Living in an apartment was not conducive to having a dog. Once we had a house, we agreed to wait until I finished the school year. But when one of the students came around with a little puppy (telling the other kids they could have one if they brought a note from their mother), I couldn’t resist. I took him home. He was the first of three dogs, each who lived a long life. He was a cuddler, the next was a runner. You can’t imagine the number of times I chased after him around the neighborhood. The last was the most well-behaved. A sweet dog who originally belonged to our son’s college roommate then to our son and then to us. Right now, we’re between dogs. And I miss the sound of nails on wood floor as our pet raced to the door to greet me.

In two of my science fiction series, I worked in dog-like pets. Did they resemble dogs here on Earth? Sure. Why not? One belonged to an elderly character (in The Chameleon) that helped track a kidnapped victim. In my first sci-fi romance (Switched), the caninus belonged to the hero’s uncle. If I were a cat-lover, I imagine I would include a feline in my stories. Alas, both my husband and son are allergic to cats.

There are three reasons I thought of pets as a topic. My son and his family just adopted a Great Dane puppy. He is so cute . . . and growing like crazy every week. The second reason is the Pets in Space anthology. I love this series. If you haven’t read the latest (number 4), do so. You won’t regret it.

By the way, I have no monkey in that circus. I just liked the series and wanted you to know about it.

Pets at Mustard Seed Sentinel
Credit: Jakob Owens
The third reason is the upcoming holidays. Many people like to give pets as gifts. While kids and pets seem to go together, in the long run taking care of one is not always an easy task.

Sure, kids can learn responsibility taking care of a pet. But what happens when the kids forget to feed the pet, or give it water, or let it out to relieve itself? Who will do that? Before gifting a pet to a child, it’s best to consider the person who is home the most—does s/he really want the pet? Always ask.

Will we get another dog? Probably. I love the companionship that a dog has to offer. Unconditional love. Despite the work that caring for a pet brings, I think they’re worth it.

Until next month, have fun reading.

If you’re a writer, do you include pets in your stories? As a reader, do you enjoy pets in stories?


About the Author

Diane Burton at Mustard Seed Sentinel

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction.

Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series.

She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband.

Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren. For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website. Connect with Diane online at her blog, on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and on Pinterest. Sign up for Diane’s new release alert.

You can read Diane’s “Family Life” column on the 3rd Wednesday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.

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