Best friends can be furry

If you asked who my best friend is, I would tell you, without hesitation, that it’s Ed, my husband. We met in our early 20s as students at Wake Forest University.

Next would be my sister, Beth. We’re similar and yet different, both possessing qualities of each of our parents whether we want to admit it or not.

Next would be a group of women — and a few men — from high school, college and work, and others met through shared experiences and activities.

Each of these friends has expanded my worldview, lent support when I was physically or emotionally weak, cheered my successes and commiserated with me about my failures, laughed with me, cried with me and, most important, rarely hesitated to kick me in the butt when I needed a good jolt.

In 1935, Congress chose June 8 as a day to honor friendship, creating National Best Friends Day. The informal holiday lost popularity through the years, but social media has helped restore it.

As I learned about this day, what I found most interesting is the number of people who identified their dog or cat as one of their best friends.

When asked Americans who their best friends were, respondents ranked their significant other first (43%), followed by their dog (19%), their mom (19%), a sibling, their dad and, rounding out the list, their cat (9%).

I never thought of either Teddy, our 8-year-old black Lab, or Pip, our 3-year-old tuxedo cat, as a best friend. Beloved family members without question, but best friends?

There are multiple descriptions of friendship. Marie Miguel describes, at, a good friend as someone you enjoy spending time with. Going by that definition, I would put Teddy and Pip at the top of my list of friends. I enjoy spending time with the furry critters.

When I’m working, Teddy’s presence adds to my productivity. I will occasionally glance to my left and watch the Lab relaxing in his bed. His multiple positions make me laugh, automatically relaxing my usually tense “keyboard” shoulder and finger muscles. My human friends email me computer users’ relaxation tips all the time. So far, the canine’s antics have yielded the best results.

I hate folding laundry, and none of my human friends has stepped up and offered to assist. Every Friday afternoon, Pip appears out of nowhere and jumps into the middle of the pile of clean clothes offering his “help.” It takes longer, but it’s a lot more fun.

While reading or watching TV, the pets frequently join me. There are rarely interruptions, and if I take a nap, they do, too. Not sure what my human friends would do if I fell asleep on them but I’m pretty sure I would hear about it time and again.

I don’t have deep conversations with the pets like I have with my human friends, although Pip tries to engage me in a little “smack talk” around 3:30 every afternoon concerning eating his dinner then and not the usual 5:30.

OK, it’s decided. On this National Friends Day, I’ll be adding two more to my list.

Karin Spicer is a member of The Dog Writers Association of America. She lives with her family and two furry pets who inspire her. She can be reached at


22% — Those who live longer because they have a close friendship network.

2 — Average number of best friends an adult has.

26% — Percentage of those who come into conflict with their friends over something posted online.


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