Is Loving Pets Genetic?

I have often wondered if there is a “pet” gene. Certainly, those who are raised with pets seem to enjoy pets as adults. But, I am referring to the pet obsessed people like me. My parents seemed to like pets. My father was raised on a working family farm, so pets were more utilitarian to him, but through his final years, he would tell stories about Nick, the family pony that would buck all the boys off and run to the swamp, but would allow sister Lena to do anything with him.

I was clearly always fascinated by animals. My early memories are of pets. My father had a watch dog in his hardware store with a vicious reputation. He was a dog scheduled  to be euthanized by a local veterinarian, but my dad took him for the store. He was true to his reputation over the years, biting anyone who ventured into the “employee only” back of the store.  My uncle was a victim more than once. But, for me, he was a wonderful dog. He allowed me to take him for walks, give him baths with the hose, whatever. He also loved my father. They had private games with the food bowl (no one else would dare go close). His name was Brownie. The name was not  unique, but the dog was.

When I was in junior high school, I wanted a dog for the house.  My mother and I answered an ad in the paper for a nine month old out of control shaggy silver dog named GiGi. We were interviewed as a potential home. The surrendering owner later called to tell us she would give us the dog. My father answered the phone. That was the first he’d heard we were getting a dog! While she was to be my dog, she fell in love with my mother. As time went on, we complained that my mother loved GiGi more than us. My mother’s reply? “No one else jumps up and down and wags their tail when I come home from work at night”. Score one for mom.

We always had cats. When I was very young, they were outside, more like farm cats. When one gave birth to a long haired kitten we called Fat Cat , we brought her in the house and I have never been without cats surrounding me since. I remember growing up, spending lots of time playing with, feeding and petting cats. I absolutely adore cats. Everything about them. My brother closest  to my age is a cat lover as well. He and his wife have always had multiple loved feline family members. My other brother and my sister have had cats as well as dogs.

I have two nieces that are devoted to pets. Both have been active in rescue of  cats, dogs, and horses. They both share their lives with multiple pets. One is very involved in the horse world. She is very much like me in her interest in training, and revolving  her life around animals. We understand each other, I think.

So is there a “pet” gene? What do you think?