Do You Have a Favorite Pet?

black lab mix at park
Kristen Seymour
My "heart dog," Yuki.

Call me a romantic, but I can easily fall in love about 20 times as I walk down a busy city sidewalk. Every time I make meaningful eye contact with a pair of dark brown, soulful eyes, I can feel myself falling head over heels. Or should I say "head over paws," seeing as how all these love interests have fur, four legs and a leash?

Dogs, cats, horses, hamsters — I love them all. But I don't necessarily love them all the same way.

Yuki was my first dog as an adult, and she was, by all accounts, a really good girl. She was a roly-poly 3-month-old Lab mix puppy when my husband and I first brought her home, and she grew into a funny, intelligent, beautiful, athletic dog. She was easy to train, too — a fact I didn't realize until five years later, when we brought home Rudi, our second black bundle of fur. (I'd assumed I was just a naturally talented dog trainer, but the challenges I faced in teaching Rudi to do  anything made it clear that Yuki had simply been a quick study, and her good manners had more to do with her own eagerness to please than with any teaching ability I had.)

Sadly, Yuki passed away when she was just 7 years old, and she took a part of me with her when she left. I've long referred to her as my "heart dog," and, if I had to choose a favorite pet, well... I love all of my animals a tremendous amount, but the answer would be easy. Yuki was — and still is — my favorite.

But I don't think that this means I loved her  more than any of my other pets. I just loved her differently. To be honest, I love each of the animals in my life differently. And when I started asking around, I found that this is actually quite common. 

Why We Play Favorites

A quick, entirely unscientific survey among my friends revealed that lots of pet owners admit to playing favorites, and two reasons seemed to come up over and over: different pet personalities and first pet vs. later pets.

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