By Mara Schiavocampo, NBC Nightly News digital correspondent
As you can see in my piece Babies That Bark, pet parents are childless pet owners who tend to treat their animals like children. You know the type: they arrange play dates for their dogs, refer to themselves as "Mommy" to the cat, and dress up their puppies. I know pet parents pretty well. Reluctantly I'll admit that I am one. Here are my "kids":
The thing is, you never start out with the intention of becoming a pet parent. As one man I met at a dog birthday party told me, "We're not like crazy dog people or anything." But there he was, at a dog birthday party! It's a change that sneaks up on you. You get an animal, think it's cute, then you kind of start to like it and the next thing you know you're madly in love with a fur ball and breaking out the credit card at Petco. Anything to see them smile (and yes, they do smile).
Both of my babies are rescue animals. They're the greatest little friends I could have hoped for. The good news is there are tons more out there like them, just waiting for a home. Hope, the sweet Chihuahua I used in my piece, is up for adoption.
You can find her and lots of other homeless animals at www.animalhaven.org. C'mon, we pet parents are looking for a few good people to fill the ranks!