dog in a truck

Making Friends

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black dog
My friend Garnet is smiling here because she likes her first camping trip!

Making friends used to be much easier for me, back when I was young and naïve. The setbacks, traumas, abuse, betrayals, and rejections I experienced as an adult changed that, and I was not so eager to meet someone new. Honestly, I don’t seek friendships casually. I observe and consider for a long time before I take a step. I was in the office next door to a man for over a year before I said anything more than, “Hi, how’s it going?” or “do we have a staff meeting today?” He was surprised when I finally sought him out for a conversation, but he rolled with it, and we became friends eventually. It took me a while to see what kind of person he was and whether he might be trustworthy. I’m cautious, remembering the betrayals by friends in the past.

Goffin's Cockatoo
My friend Sugar likes to eat whatever is fresh from our garden.

When I do make friends, it’s usually because I saw someone through the eyes of their pets. Whenever someone mentions their pet, I relax. I automatically think they are nice. After all, they find affection for someone who doesn’t speak verbally, speaking mainly with their heart. If a person understands that language, then they are likely someone I would like. It doesn’t matter if their pets are snakes, birds, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, or chickens, it just means that an animal is their friend. That means that I might find a way to be their friend too.

small dog
Tribble and Garnet are best friends, and yet, they’re my best friends too. There’s a lot of love going around, here.

When I meet people that don’t have animals or pets of any kind, I may ask why. Is the reason an excuse for their self-serving nature? Or is it a reason to commiserate with them, to share their regret that they are without a companion animal at that time? If a person complains that pets are messy, they don’t like animals that might touch them or similar stories, I step back a lot. This is a person who cannot be inconvenienced. That’s too bad because I could be inconvenient sometime. I might want their friendship at a time that doesn’t work for them, and they won’t want to find a way to be there.

sugar glider
We still miss our friend, Emma. He was supposed to be a she, and along with Cookie, established a long-lived sugar glider empire in our home. Those were good times.

I met a woman once who said that she would like many more animals – she had a deep capacity to love and respect animals – but she could only afford the food and veterinary bills for just one small animal. It seemed like such a tragedy to me. She could have only one dog, but she loved it passionately; she did not squirrel away her love, afraid to share.

gray and white cat
I still think of my friend Jackson often. He died earlier this year and is sorely missed.

Sometimes, if I’m just meeting someone and we start to talk about their pet, I ask to see a picture. Then I really see the affection some people share for their companions. Picture after picture. They don’t just save the good ones; they save them all because they see everything their pet does as precious and lovely. I need a friend like that because sometimes I’m out-of-focus or have an icky expression, but I want to be liked anyway. These are people who sound like they could be a friend. I see them with new eyes when I see their love for their pet.

red poodle
Jazz has been our friend for 15 years. I don’t know what I would do without him.

I know many people whose tell me their best friend is their companion animal. I understand that, but people friends can be good, too.


dog in a truck
River watches me from the truck. We love taking our dog friends camping with us, and they love going with us. Here, River wonders why I got to get out of the truck and she had to stay. I was just snapping a few pictures….


  1. My best friends have always been animals. I thought everyone was like that. 🙂 When the kids were little everyone called our house the zoo. Animals were never any trouble and were always welcome. I feel the same way about people who don’t like animals. I back up and go away. I was an Animal Rights Activist for most of my life. Vegetarian and won’t wear leather or use anything made from animals. Illinois just passed a law that make up cannot be made or sold in the state, if it was tested on animals.


  2. I love that commonality we share as pet owners. Our fur babies are so special and like you, I tend to trust those who have an affinity with animals more quickly than those without for I feel that sense of camaraderie with them. Having two cats who are an important part of our family of humans made my kids learn so much that I am ever grateful to their animal sisters for the lessons they reinforced by their presence in our home. My kids still kiss me first when they come home and then immediately go in search of their cats to cuddle. Fur therapy is an important aspect in our home.

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    1. I thought of this blog post the other day when I found myself at a group dinner sitting next to someone I didn’t know very well. In an attempt to make conversation, I asked if she had any pets. No. Well, I didn’t know what to say and I’m that instant I wondered what kind of person doesn’t want a pet. Our conversation ended right there. They enrich my life immeasurably and have helped me, just like my children have, to increase the love in my life.


      1. I HEARTily agree with you Karel! It’s interesting how pets/kids can liven up a conversation. But really, what do we talk about if we don’t have those to unite us? The weather? Surely not getting into the political arena with others. Hmmmm….always interesting to meet new people isn’t it?

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        1. I’m introverted enough to find those early conversations with relative strangers awkward and difficult. It doesn’t sound like you have that difficulty at all! Good for you!


  3. 🙂 Bok Bok Bok… I’m a chicken Mom… You know how much I love my girls. I love Skat-Kat. I find it hard to be friends with people who do not understand how much love a ‘common’ chicken can receive and give. They all have faces. They all have likes and dislikes. – I think friends are energy, pure and simple, no matter the form. It’s so neat to have all the friends you have. They are lovely souls, and faces so expressive! When I’d get overwhelmed without birds, I’d go to the bird rescue and volunteer time. No matter what the job, just being around them, gives me great peace.

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    1. Thanks for chiming in! It surprises me how many people don’t recognize birds as the intelligent, affectionate beings that they are. Chickens are no different. They can be wonderful friends, particularly your sweet little flock!

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        1. Oh my! As a child, I always had a horny toad (dessert lizard) with me! I loved them. Now, we were pretty desperate to find wildlife besides rattlesnakes, so it’s not like we had a lot of choices. But yes, I’ve also loved lizards, Sven though I didn’t keep them as pets. I would hold them for a day and then send them home for dinner.

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  4. I once explained to a co-worker that unexpectedly a cockatiel landed on my shoulder and stayed. Tried to find the owner-no luck. Kept it. The co-worker said that he would have stomped on it-after all, it was just a bird. Never became friends.

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  5. I agree. I don’t trust people who don’t like animals. Or who find them an inconvenience. And especially who give up their dog because they had to move. I would live in a shack in the woods before I gave up my precious girls.

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    1. I don’t understand it, either. I figure that if I don’t understand that part of them, the other parts will be even harder. Geez, we bought a camper this year because we wanted to take our dogs with us when we travel. Who would have guessed the cat wanted to come too? But she has been great in the camper, too!

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      1. That is funny and great about the cat! When the air conditioning went out on our last car, we bought a nice used Lexus so our Lexi girl wouldn’t overheat. Yep, now we buy cars for the dogs, too.

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