A few years ago, I wrote an article about pet influencers who opened my eyes to this wonderful world. I used to be influenced by friends, relatives, and neighborhood pet stores. Nowadays, influence is everywhere: Everyone posts their animal companions on social media.

But how do we tell which influence is good?


I have always been an advocate of educating oneself instead of jumping into caring for an animal through trial and error. Animals are not experiments. Beginner guardians are sometimes traumatized by their negative experiences because of the advice they get from animal stores and influencers.

I am an administrator for a Goldfish group on Facebook with about 38,000 members as of this writing. Based on my observation, there are many users willing to share their knowledge, but this comes with risks, as people’s experiences are different.


Before the pandemic, I envisioned a place for people where they could discover, enjoy, and share animal companionship. This would allow people to learn and immerse themselves before making any decisions. After all, getting an animal companion without preparing is like jumping into the swimming pool without knowing how to float.

For my vision, the key objectives are the following.

  • To learn the fundamentals of caring for animal companions
  • To gain first-hand experience in setting up a home for animal companions
  • To discover different aspects of animal guardianship, such as designing crafts
  • To develop fellowship with others
  • To engage in different activities related to animals
  • To set up pet galleries that can inspire new hobbyists

The vision needs three major parts to succeed.


Dreams must have a deadline. These are actions that will take us to our vision one step at a time


The heart of every vision is people with the right attitude and skills for the journey. Animal Scene has always been a great team to support each of my goals.


These consist of activities to ensure that each goal is reached. With a system in place, we can tell which goal needs tweaking and which one needs to be eliminated, if appropriate.

I then formed a great team that consisted of my family and friends: my wife Suzie, son Aaron, daughter Jamie, and Mandy Filart. With the system we had in mind, we can observe the engagement of the participants and compare with our expectations.

We called our dream place the AZ Pet Academy. Merriam-Webster defines academy as a “place to study or train in a special field.” For me, caring for animals is not about training animals but about educating humans.

Our target age started at six years old. We invited nieces, nephews, and friends who wished to take part. It was a half-day event but felt short for time. We tried only one group of small animals: Hamsters, Rabbits, and Guinea Pigs. In the future, we might also cover Goldfishes and Birds.


There are many benefits of taking care of animals, which I divide into five categories.


Dogs can walk and jog with you, making them great hiking companions. Aside from that, their homes need to be cleaned and maintained regularly, an activity that provides the opportunity for one to move about.


Animal companions can be really good listeners. They tend not to complain and talk back — if anything, they might respond to you with great joy, especially when you are happy.

Some animals, such as Tortoises, can provide a certain sense of peace. Gouldian Finches and Canaries are natural musicians. Fishes give off a sense of serenity, and Pigeons can provide great comfort, especially when they fly about and come home to their loft. Hamsters remind us to enjoy and relax.


Many affairs allow the human guardians of animals to get together and share their experiences.

I can’t count the number of great friends I have made. Some of them I have been in fellowship with for more than 30 years. I have met many experts in their field, such as former Animal Scene writer Johnny Filart who has a wide range of companions: Arowana, Tortoise, Dogs, and Chickens. Guppy and Angelfish expert Butch De Los Santos and Animal Scene Managing Editor Jeffrey Lim are also part of the list.


We love discovering about our animal companions through research, online or otherwise. We enrich our knowledge because of our desire to know more so that we can care about animals better.


We already appreciate the joy that our animal friends give us. However, their companionship also gives us the chance to think about their unique personhood as wonderful creatures. We are grateful that on this earth, we are not alone.

I will continue my journey next issue by sharing what was accomplished during the start of the pandemic and what else is in store.

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29 ESV)For questions, please email [email protected].