As Valentine's Day approaches our thoughts turn to those we love. What better time is there to be mindful of the creatures that offer us their undying devotion on a daily basis? Our pets rely on us to care for them and to supply ample food, shelter, emotional support, and health care. In return they become our devoted companions, trusting us to care for them while giving us amusement beyond measure. A few simple toys can entertain them for hours. A companion animal with a pal (another dog or cat in the household) doubles the fun for everyone.

A responsible pet owner protects his or her pet from dangerous situations, keeping the animal under control at all times. The animal(s) gets plenty of attention and exercise, proper nourishment and veterinary care, and a happy home in which to thrive.

There are countless ways our pets enrich our lives and yet they ask so little in return. The daily ritual of feeding and walks, for exercise and elimination, are the basics. The pet that is lucky enough to accompany its owner in the car gets to broaden its horizons and see a larger part of the world. A cushion, or perhaps a favorite chair, allows the pet some ownership while adding to its comfort. Just knowing that it is loved creates a special bond.

Pet lovers are a special breed. They may go to extreme lengths to pamper their pets. The lap dog wearing a jeweled collar on a cushion with a dish of delicacies to devour comes to mind. Yet it does not take such elegance to show that a pet is loved. When you choose a pet make your commitment permanent. Then, treat the animal with kindness and respect. Two simple words can cement the relationship: BE MINE! The look in your pet's eyes will return the favor many times over. Why not do something special for your pet today? It will make you both happy.

Pat Jauch is secretary of Caledonia Animal Rescue Inc., P.O. Box 4054, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819;


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