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There once was a man. He did not have a dog. He did not have a cat. He did not have a bird or a fish or even a rat. He lived an uncomplicated life.

The man lived in a house that was always clean. There were no muddy footprints on the carpet nor clumps of hair collecting in the corners. There were no bowls to trip over nor containers of pet food clogging up the cupboards. Not even once was there a single shoe chewed up. Not anywhere. Not ever.

The man was completely free to do whatever he wanted when he wanted. He could travel. There were no kennels to worry about nor pet sitters to arrange. There were no lists to make of puppy needs nor times to remember for veterinary care. And, best of all, absolutely never, not once, had there ever been two little eyes peering out from under a sofa to unnerve a date he brought home.

The man worked. He came home. He ate his dinner and he slept. Sometimes he went out with friends and sometimes he stayed in. There was never any disturbing barking or panting or wet noses requesting a door to be opened or a head to be petted. His time was his own. Not a bad life really.

Then there was his brother. He had a dog. Well, actually he had several dogs, a couple cats and some horses. It was a raucous and noisy life. It was usually pretty complicated and always a little messy.

His floors were often muddy and there were clumps of hair that seemed to just materialize in the corners. He sometimes tripped over dog beds. He sometimes tripped over the dogs themselves. He was busy with the multiple heads that needed petting every day. He did not even have privacy in the bathroom, ever.

If he wanted to go somewhere, he had to find someone for the house and someone for the cats. Of course, he had to find someone else for the horse. He had some dogs that needed to be boarded but others who would not, could not, go to such a place. He had dogs with special food. He had others with special medicines and he even had some with both.

So the brother lived his life. Sharing his home with a group of hairy roommates who were not so good at taking care of themselves. It could be confusing. Was he the servant or the master? He was most certainly was always the maid. That at least was clear.

The brother was very well protected. Sometimes, right after he went to sleep, his dogs would let him know there was a coyote or an airplane skulking about. Dogs hear very well you know.

So who is the happier of the two men? The man with the lovely, clean uncomplicated life or his brother? Can we really say for certain? What do animals bring to our lives after all?

If You-Tube is to be believed animals certainly make us smile. On a sad day, a wet nose, a soft head for stroking or a cat to warm and fill a lap can comfort us. Besides, who else will let you know that you are the single most exciting thing that walks through the door and do it every single day, always, if not a dog?

So why do animals add so much to life? There is no logical reason why they should. There really isn’t. Especially in the world of today. They have no real utility.

Still, what a sterile world it would be without them. They just seem to fill up our hearts while they mess up our homes. They give a love that is without pretension or guile. We humans are such smart little monkeys but it is animals who educate us best on living and loving honestly.

Animals don’t just teach. They may be a child’s first friend, the last companion of the elderly. They protect us when we’re scared, guide us when we are blind. They stand by us during war yet are still able to help us find peace within ourselves. Empathy. Dependability. Trustworthiness. Leadership. Kindness. Honesty. All this from an animal. They give and give without question for all of their short, little lives.

As messy, annoying noisy, fuzzy little monsters as they can be let us never forget just how much we receive in return.