Father’s Day is a day to celebrate fatherhood. This is the day where we can express our love and gratitude to the fathers in our lives. As an adult, I can look back with fondness on my memories of who my father was and what he meant to me with the perspective of a grown woman, with a family of her own, rather than the perception I had when I was a child.
I have always loved animals. I have never doubted that, never wavered in that love. Growing up, there was always a dog and a couple of cats in the family. I guess I just took our pets for granted, that they were always there, and I never really thought about how that came to be.
Recently, I was conversing with one of my Labradors who was in the car with me. I was driving home from work on the, as usual, traffic congested freeway (yes, I do talk to my dogs while I’m driving), and the thought popped into my head, “Where did my love of animals come from?” The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was my father who brought home our first family pet.
I was around 5 years old and still in Kindergarten when my father surprised us by bringing home a stray, light ginger colored female cat that was hanging around the office building where he worked. (He may have used the words, “She just jumped into my car, so what else could I do but bring her home?”) We kids were ecstatic. I named her Princess and when she proceeded to “gift” us with a litter of kittens, my Dad achieved hero status. Not only did we get the treasured cat we always wanted, but we got extras too!
My father’s love of animals didn’t stop there. A few years later, he brought home a mixed German Shepherd puppy that someone wasn’t taking very good care of. My father was not a demonstrative man, but he was a loving man when it came to his family and those under his care. He was rescuing dogs before it became popular and he didn’t do it because it was the trendy thing to do – he saved them because it was the right thing to do.
He saved several more during his lifetime: Sampson, a stray black Labrador Retriever and Candy, a brindle colored mixed breed that a negligent neighbor had chained up in their yard. I for one will be forever grateful he loved animals and passed that love on to me and my brothers. That black Lab named Sampson – well, he started my love affair with Labradors that is my passion to this day.
So this started me thinking about all the other Dads out there that have encouraged their children’s love of animals. In a culture where the advertising media seems mostly concerned about the opinions and buying power of women in the 35-55 year old range, I think we tend to forget about the men in our lives – especially the fathers. We take for granted the lessons our fathers gave us; it was they who bought us our first puppy, put us on that fat pony, let us have the snake that Mom didn’t want us to have, and some even taught us the importance of caring for livestock. A quick poll among my animal loving friends and coworkers has confirmed what I have suspected – almost all of my friends got started in animals because of their fathers. Amazing!
To my father, Edward Rydzewski, I honor you on this Father’s Day 2014 by sharing your story with our readers here at the CANIDAE RPO blog. To my husband Craig, thank you for not complaining too much when I bring home another dog or cat or chicken or tortoise or (insert species here). But most importantly, a big THANK YOU to all the fathers out there for always lending an ear, giving advice, for just being there, and most importantly, gifting your family with the joy of unconditional love – the love of animals.
About the author: Diane Matsuura works for CANIDAE Pet Foods. You can find her bio at canidae.com/support/customer-support-team
Top photo: Ed Rydzewski with his dog Harper – Irene Rydzewski
Middle and bottom photos: Diane Matsuura