Valentine’s Day is hands-down my favorite holiday. Yeah, yeah, I know all the negatives: rates of depression skyrocket mid-February along with chocolate sales figures; the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre is among the bloodiest dates in mob history; it’s really all a construct of the greeting card-candy-jewelry industrial complex; and my personal favorite, the real fellow who became the Christian Saint Valentine was beheaded on February 14. Ok, so you go find me a holiday which doesn’t have its dark side! On this date several decades ago I married my best friend, and it’s a day we hold in special regard for all those we love which in my family includes many, many animals. Here are a few who quickly and happily come to mind as we approach Valentine’s Day, now all gone, missed and remembered most days but especially now.

Sweet Lorraine, a survivor of horrible cruelty who came into our lives at age 13 and generously gave us more time than we could have hoped for, 100-plus pounds of slobbering, shedding, glorious affection given freely to every dog, person, cat and tortoise she met as part of our extended family. Tsimmes, his red tabby color and sweet disposition matching my grandmother’s carrot, yam and honey recipe he was named after, waiting by the front door ready to give his over-the-top welcome even if you had just stepped outside to get the newspaper. Eli, who would happily hug even a burglar as long as he wasn’t stealing the couch or refrigerator. Lilly, who purred contently staring unblinking into my eyes for close to 15 years every night in my lap, even those last months when she sat in my lap as I hooked her up to an IV.

And my dog Jasper, and Carolyn’s dog Peaches, who met each other and fell in love as my future wife and I courted and fell in love as well. Both older when we met, they became inseparable. Until they couldn’t be. Jasper was the first to go, Peaches resting her lovely face on his spot on the couch and crying for his absence. These animals are love. These animals are loved. Love your own animals, please, this Valentine’s Day and every day that comes before and after it.


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