Monday, December 20, 2010
For years my family and friends have teased me about my love for animals of all kinds. They've accused me of caring more about animals than I do for most people. My pets have seen me at my worst and my best, and have always been there when I needed a friend. The bond we have with pets is unique, and we know what the benefits of owning a pet are for us and children who grow up with a pet in the home. The bond we share with a pet opens our eyes and allows us to learn from them things about ourselves and life. It's been said, “The eyes are a window into the soul” and if you take the time to really gaze into your pet's eyes, you can see more than you think and learn things about yourself. What pets teach us about life isn't found in books; it's found in simple pleasures and the basic needs for life.
Pets have no concept of wealth or power, and are content to live in the moment. If you pay attention to them, they teach us lessons every day. What happened yesterday or an hour ago is forgotten and tomorrow's possibilities are wide open. If the sun isn't shining, it's OK because dancing in the rain can be just as much fun. I've learned the simple things – the freebies of life – are what make it worthwhile. Hiking with your best canine friend by your side, or sitting by a campfire under a star-filled sky away from the noise of the world helps to put things in order. Pets teach us to enjoy the little wonders in life, and that it's worthwhile to look under a bush once in awhile.
Being around dogs and cats my entire life has taught me how important it is to take a deep breath before shouting words in anger. Pets teach us how to forgive and overlook little imperfections we have a tendency to magnify. They don't hold grudges, they don't criticize or belittle, they tell no secrets, they don't judge others and they accept us for who we are – always!
My pets have taught me that responsible pet owners who truly love their pets are special souls. If we find a stray hair in our food, it's alright. A final brush before walking into work will remove most of the pet hair. We don't think about the bit of hair on a chair until after a guest sits down. We don't think twice about tossing a pet's toy off the couch after sitting on it or walking the dog when it's freezing so he can do his business. It's all part of sharing your home with a dog or cat.
Pets teach us it's not important to worry about things in life we can't change. They take it all in stride, which is a lesson worth learning and we can benefit from their innocent curiosity about everyday encounters and surprises.
I love to watch my dogs when they're outside. Their eyes steadily move from a bee on a flower to a bug crawling through the grass to a bird flying over the trees. Noses twitch from side to side as they catch a scent carried in the wind. Ears prick up and rotate back and forth until they get the perfect position for listening to a far away sound. Life shouldn't always be lived in the fast lane. Pets teach us to slow down and listen to nature's song and marvel in the beauty of all life around us, if you take the time to watch and learn.
People can have unflattering attitudes about others and misinterpret words or actions. Our pets teach us to overlook misinterpretations and find the good in others because that's what they see in us. Unconditional love shouldn't be just a pet thing. Living with pets helped me understand just how much I love all animals. I probably do prefer the company of a pet over that of a lot of people I know, because I don't have to pretend to be someone I'm not just to make someone else happy. Life is about choices, understanding, learning and giving. My pets are who I am, and I can't imagine ever being without one.
You can tell what's in a person's heart when you watch them with their pet. The responsible pet owner shares a bond that can't be broken, and you can see it in their eyes and that of their pets. Our pets appreciate the little things in life, and they teach us it's OK to roll in the grass. We just need to take the time to watch and learn from their wisdom about life.
Read more articles by Linda Cole