A man goes to visit a friend and is amazed to find him playing chess with his dog.
“I can hardly believe my eyes.” says the guy, “That’s the smartest dog I have ever seen.”
His friend replies, “Nah, he is not that smart, I have beaten him three games out of five.”

Everyone refers to their pets as their ‘fur-kids’. Nearly everyone anyway – there are a few old-schoolers out there who mutter sinful statements like ‘outside dogs’ under their breath, hoping the social media PC police won’t overhear them. All well and good, but pets are in fact a bit, and in some cases a lot, more than hairy children.

Irrespective of whether they live inside and have unrestricted access to the couch and beds, or if they are regarded in a more traditional manner by their owners, and sleep outside in a kennel, dogs, in particular, offer more than the average human rugrat.

They don’t have tantrums. They don’t draw on the walls. They don’t ask ‘why’ 65000 times a day, and they don’t talk back. They don’t ask you for money, or if they can borrow the car. (Cats don’t either, but only because they couldn’t be bothered. Or because they are too plotting to tie up the dog and stage a coup for control of the household.)

Pets give us laughter, but they are also amazing companions. Cats too – more so than their reputation for being arrogant and offhanded gives them credit for! So what if they get fleas occasionally? Our human kids are always coming home from school with lice! Yugh.

‘What’s a flea’s favourite way to travel?
Itch- hiking’ (hahaha – now go get your beloved pet a flea collar…or you really want some fun, that stuff you out on their necks – or try to.)

Dogs love you non-stop – even when don’t deserve it, or when you need it too much for a human to bear. They are unwaveringly loyal.
Cats see the invisible spooks in the corner of the room and chase them off with their X-ray stares, keeping you safe while you watch TV.

Our pets are bright. Really bright. Good thing they can’t talk or have opposable thumbs, or we’d be their pets…and they’d be making jokes about playing chess with us.

‘Why are dogs such bad dancers?
They have two left feet’ (but they can smell things you can’t and see things you can’t imagine – at least I think so, coz my cat is hissing at something-or-other invisible to the human eye. Defending me. Love it. Love my cat. I’d be scared, but I’m too busy laughing!)

Then of course, there are guide dogs and emotional support animals of all shapes, sizes and species. Their value as companions who make life bearable is so well-recognised now that you can take your emotional support ‘pet’ on the plane with you – even when that animal is a miniature horse. True story.

‘On which side does a chicken have the most feathers?
The outside’ (Pets make us laugh, but this stupid joke just made the cat think about defecting to the neighbour’s house.)

Sadly though, there are more animals out there needing homes than there are suitable homes. Animals need you to give them a chance at life. To make them your pets. Pets give us laughter, love and happiness…and a whole lot more. All they need from us is one thing ‘love’- ideally in a ‘forever home’. A home full of smells, corner spooks, couches and beds and humans to love them and laugh and be happier for the presence of the fur and feather-kids: puppies to dogs, and kittens to cats, rabbits and birds, pigs (teacup size to ‘oh-my…it was never supposed to grown into a full-sized pig’ size pigs), mice, hamsters, rats, guinea-pigs… and…maybe even mini-horses – if you are lucky and want to freak out the passengers on your next flight!