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Sometimes best friends go ‘bow-wow#039;

Everybody, no matter who, tough or independent they may consider themselves, needs a friend.

Someone to talk to that will really listen, someone who loves you unconditionally and thinks you look just swell with morning stubble or a bad case of &uot;bed-head.&uot;

If you’re truly blessed you end up with a significant other who fits that bill.

But sometimes Mr. or Ms. Right doesn’t come along.

(Or they do seem to come along but turn out to be Mr. or Ms. Wrong.)

Even if you live in a city where you are surrounded by thousands, millions of people-you can still get awfully lonely.

And the closer our world grows in terms of communication- satellite conferencing, fax, e-mail, digital phones, et al.-the more isolated we sometimes seem to grow from one another.

May we suggest an old-fashioned solution: get yourself a pet (or two or three.)

There are millions of animals out there that desperately need a good home. Remember the old saying about a friend in need being a friend indeed?

It’s true.

When you come home from a weary day there’s nothing to perk up your spirits like the friendly pooch waiting on the porch, tail wagging in ecstasy at the very sight of you.

When you’re laid low from a nasty cold or some other &uot;bug&uot; it’s very comforting to have a box of tissues and a nice snuggly cat to curl up with.

(So much more appealing than a hot water bottle and much more pleasant than that evil-tasting cough syrup.)

Dogs and cats provide built-in entertainment.

Sit back and watch your canine cavorting with his beloved bone.

Stretch out and take a gander at your kitty eyeing that itty-bitty race car on the TV screen with wide-eyed interest.

A wise old gentleman once remarked that &uot;watching a couple of kittens at play is more entertaining than anything TV has to offer.&uot;

Pets can be silly, sweet, shy, flamboyant, curious, kooky, aloof and out-going.

Some are really smart and some are pretty dumb.

They can be movie star gorgeous or so plug-ugly they are kinda cute.

What they can’t be (unlike many humans) is intentionally cruel. Yes, some turn savage but rarely do they get that way without some outside ‘help.’ Just as we humans have often done a terrible job as custodians of this planet so too have we often failed our animal companions on earth through neglect and abuse.

By and large, domestic animals like being with their people.

Sure, they want to be fed and watered regularly and have their basic needs met.

But they also want to fetch the stick, chase the ball, curl up in your lap and simply spend some quality time with you.

Let’s face it. For some of us, the only unconditional love we will directly receive in this life will be from a pet.

They don’t hold grudges or think you should change to meet their expectations.

They take you as you are, warts and all, and loyalty is their motto.

Fair-weather friends they are not.

And there is always one out there waiting for you to welcome it into your home and your heart.

It may be a stray along side the road or on your back porch.

Maybe you need to take a trip down to the local animal shelter and find your friend there. (The Humane Society folks would sure appreciate it.)

It’s been said that for everyone there is a ‘someone’.

Perhaps your ‘someone’ walks on four legs instead of two and says &uot;Wuff, wuff&uot; or &uot;Meow&uot;.

Maybe your house is just not a home without pet hairs, scattered catnip toys and the pitter-patter of tiny (or not so tiny) paws.

Millions of animals are put to sleep every year because their potential human friends never realized they are out there waiting for someone to say, &uot;I pick you.&uot;

Maybe you can be the one to help change those statistics.

Think about it.