Photo Submitted by Sydney Fitzpatrick
“A dog is a man’s best friend.”
This age-old phrase has been seen everywhere: printed in cute calligraphy on the sides of coffee mugs, emblazoned across colorful bumper stickers, typed across the pages of books and written into the scripts of movies. However, it is a phenomenon for a reason. Pets play a large role in the lives of their owners, providing a special kind of love that can be found in no other bond. An animal, whether it be a cuddly cat or dog or loveable-from-a-distance fish or turtle, can be a best friend and a soulmate, a support mechanism and a daily spark of joy. In the life of a high-schooler, a pet can bring more love than one can ever expect.
For some, this love has been present their entire lives. Brynna Jump, sophomore, has owned her cat, Kit, since the beginnings of her youth. “He’s an elevenish year old cat. I remember we had another cat named Penny when I was really little, and she became pregnant and had babies to a feral cat, and that’s where we got Kit.” Cats are one of the most popular pets, beloved by many for their snarky yet soft nature.
Kit is no exception to this stereotype. Jump expressed that despite all the owners and friends he has interacted with, Kit harbors a special favoring for her.
“He hates everyone and everything, except for me! He’s really soft and has a tendency to be super needy, but he’s nice!” This bond runs deep between them; many high schoolers foster unique connections with their pets over the years, ones that cannot be replicated anywhere else.
“I think [pets] can be best friends, I love my dear little bastard boy but he’s not necessarily my actual best friend. He’s just a jerk who loves me and I love him. I think it can be true for some people, and I love him a lot,” Jump laughed.
On the other hand, a pet can come as an exciting gift out of nowhere in many high schooler’s lives. On Thursday, January 16th, a lamb was born to one of senior Sydney Fitzpatrick’s many sheep- a little lamb soon to be named Lucky.
“He was born outside with our whole flock of sheep, but we had to bring him in because he was struggling to acclimate to living with the other sheep and needed special attention to make sure he got milk. We had to bottle feed him every 3 to 4 hours a day, and give him a great deal of special care,” Fitzpatrick said. “He’s been inside for about two weeks now, and I’ve grown very attached!”
Although a lamb is regarded as a typically unusual pet, Lucky brings the same amount of joy that a dog or cat could provide. His quirky personality and go-getter nature won Fitzpatrick over, and she is looking forward to seeing him progress into a strong ram.
“He does this thing where if he has his attention on you, and you have your attention on him back, he’ll chase you. He runs and kicks his little back legs up, and he just looks so sweet doing it.”
Fitzpatrick also is an owner to pets beyond Lucky, and she appreciates the love of each one in her life equally, knowing they bring something special to her. “I think there’s no love similar to the love of a pet. Even with the lamb and my own dog and cat, they just provide a comforting presence and make you feel like you’ve got someone,” Fitzpatrick shared.
Unusual pets are no rarity to Great Crossing students, many owning animals beyond your typical cuddly furry ones. Sophomore Kenlyn Knoblock is the proud owner of two gray 3-year-old cockatiels, Cass and Henry. Knoblock shared that her birds came into her life through an act of rescue adoption.
“Our first bird that we owned flew away, and we missed having birds, so we went to purchase another. At the store we went to, they were obviously not treated well,” Knoblock said. “My parents picked one bird, and I picked another. They told me we could only choose one, and I cried for hours because they were treated so horribly and I wanted to help them. So, I paid $200 myself to get my bird, and got her out of that situation.”
Her birds have their own distinctive personalities that Knoblock adores, for they bring joy into her life with their vivacious presence.
“Henry is hilarious, there’s this weird whistle he does, and I love it so much. Cass, on the other hand, is sweet and much more shy- she’s super soft and cuddly. They make me laugh all the time, and they both make me super happy.” She said that although they are not literally her best friends, the love her pets have for her far surpasses a human’s because they trust her simply and live to be her special creatures.
Even I fall victim to the pet cliche. My one-year-old hedgehog, Watson, is my stabby soulmate. His grumpy but cuddly presence brings me immense happiness each and every night, and when I list out my best friends, his name is on there. Although pets can be messy, tedious to take care of, and temperamental, the time put into the relationship is always worth it. Love has no boundaries- from fur to scales to quills to fins, pets offer us love all the same.