Hannah Hawks, Fall 2014 J1 Student

Current Pet Owners

A vast majority of America owns pets. It’s a fact. Kodi Simmons, freshman, said Pets can give you relaxation when you are stressed or just looking for content.

“Pets are like a stress reliever. So they’ll always be there for you, and you can cuddle,” Simmons said.

Pets also provide comfort in an otherwise lonely situation said Liberty Hawks, a fifth grader at Prairie Star Elementary.

“Pets are good if you’re home alone. They’re good company,” Hawks said.

Candy Hawks, a current pet owner, said pets are also a very lovable addition because people feel they will love you no matter what the situation.

“It gives someone to turn to if you need a hug. They love you unconditionally,” said Candy.

Larry Hawks, a current owner of two dogs, said pets are also extraordinary friends that offer great companionship, love and life lessons.

Animal owners say they have had pets since they were young and still currently have some today.

Candy said she has had pets since she was in first grade. Larry said he has had pets on and off ever since he was ten years old. Many pet owners have even had pets for all of their life, like Simmons who said she has had pets since she was born.

Some pet owners say, although there are many upsides to owning animals, there are some downfalls, too.

“There’s always up-keep and hair and bathroom issues,” Candy said.

Another con to ownership, Simmons said, is all of the time you have to put into keeping up with all of their needs.

“You have to take care of them when they’re sick, and you have to take them out,” Simmons said, “They take a lot of time, so if you don’t have that, it’s hard.”

Taking in a pet can also be very costly, said owner Larry, but they feel it definitely pays off.

“It can be expensive, especially if you buy a purebred, but it is absolutely worth it,” Larry said.

The stories about the reasons for getting a pet can also differ from family to family.

“Peanut Butter the cat, I got as a gift when I broke my arm,” Candy said, “My other two dogs, I got for hunting for my dad and brother. I got two cats after the first cat died. I got one cat when I went to college. Then we had Chief, a dog, and now we have Morgan. Morgan came from Santa,”

People also resort to having pets because they have a passion for animals or for a guard figure.

“I got a [pet] because I love dogs,” Larry said,  “When I was a young boy, my dad got [a dog] to help have some protection.”

Some who own pets believe adoption is the way to go when getting an animal to bring into the family.

“[It is better to] adopt because the animals are already out there, so that way you’re helping something in need,” Candy said.

Other owners, like Larry, think adopting animals from shelters is up to the family; they should get a dog that suits them.

“Normally, I like going to shelters because I like mutt dogs and saving one, or feeling like I saved one,” Larry said, “I think mutts make really good pets. They should get a pet they bond with and they love, so there’s nothing wrong with buying. I just prefer the pound. Save a puppy.”

Pet lovers can have a lazy, relaxing day with their pet or do fun and exciting things, like Simmons.

“When I was little, I used to paint his nails and put him in dresses and have tea parties,” Simmons said.

Previous Pet Owners

At some point in a majority of American citizens’ lifetime, they will own at least one pet. The Animal Humane Society estimated in 2012, 62 percent of all American households had at least one pet.

Although some people do not currently own a pet now, some have before.

“We have had three or four dogs and four cats.” said Steve Knabe, a grandparent of Blue Valley students.

Some people have had multiple pets from various species of animals.

“I have had cats, dogs, parakeets and a rabbit.” said Peggy Knabe, a grandparent of Blue Valley students.

People may want to hold off until getting a new pet because of big events or changes that might affect the animal, like Steve.

“The three cats we had passed away, and now we’re just waiting until we move to get a different pet.” Steve said.

Some previous owners do not expect to own another pet, like Peggy.

“I don’t want to mess with the litter and the hair in the house.” Peggy said.

Some past owners plan on owning another pet again somewhere down the road in their lifetime, like Steve.

“Definitely we will. I want an Airedale dog.” Steve said.


Whether someone currently owns a pet, or has before, lots of animals can learn to do tricks, but teaching these tasks to a pet can pose to be difficult, or even stressful, said Peggy.

“I had dumb pets. I just wanted to play with them. I didn’t want to be stressed and try to teach them something; or be stressful on them, either.” Peggy said.

Owners have had different experiences with teaching pets to be house trained, like Candy, who said the levels of difficulty ranged from pet to pet.

“Some were easier to house train than others.” Candy said.

Some pets can take to the house training trick smoother than others, Larry said about his dogs.

“With most of the dogs I’ve had, [house training has] been pretty good. All of them have been house trained very well.” Larry said.

A lot of animals know how to do simple commands like Candy’s dogs.

“They don’t know anything more than sit, stay, lay down.” Candy said.

Some dogs are even taught to do work-related tasks that can potentially benefit the owner such as Steve’s past dogs.

“I had bird dogs who could find birds. When [my family and I] would shoot them down, they would go find them.” Steve said.

Some can even do more unique tricks that are more uncommonly thought of as an animal behavior.

“I taught him to smile.” Simmons said.

Some owners just prefer to have fun and play with their pets like Larry.

“I haven’t been good with teaching them many tricks, but generally they can shake hands, lay down, but I mostly play with them,” Larry said, “I’m not very good about it. I like to play with them.”