Animals as Teachers

Animals can teach us the value of vulnerability

cats-in-window

Today’s post resonated deeply with me when I first read it on the New England Pet Hospice Blog. It reflects much of what I experienced with Buckley toward the end of her life. She, like no other cat  in my life (or human, for that matter), taught me about opening my heart. As a result, my life expanded in ways I never could have imagined. I am honored to share this very special guest post with you today.

Written by Heather Merrill

Sharing our lives with animals is a huge lesson in vulnerability. We know from the outset that we will almost certainly outlive them. That they will become sick, old, challenged, and that it will be us who must care for them and advocate for their welfare making excruciatingly difficult choices along the way.

And yet they bring us the most pure form of joy, contentment, and happiness. They inspire us and our creativity in countless ways.Continue Reading

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I rescued a human today

Buckley's Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher cat on sofa

I’ve always believed that animals come into our lives for a reason. They teach us about unconditional love. They help up open our hearts. And sometimes, they even save our lives.

The beautiful poem below makes the rounds on the web periodically, and every time I read it, it moves me to tears. I recently came across this version, slightly altered and adapted for cats, on Romeo the Cat’s blog, and wanted to share it with you today. 

Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor
peering apprehensively into the cages.

I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her.

I meowed, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid.

As she read the sign on my cage I hoped that she
wouldn’t feel sad about my past.

I only have the future to look forward to
and want to make a difference in someone’s life.

She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me.

I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up
against the bars to comfort her.

Gentle fingertips caressed my neck;
she was desperate for companionship.

A tear fell down her cheek and
I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.

Soon my cage door opened and
her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms.

I would promise to keep her safe.

I would promise to always be by her side.

I would promise to do everything I could
to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes.

I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor.

So many more are out there who haven’t walked the corridors.

So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.

I rescued a human today.

Did your cat rescue you? Please share your stories!

Photo of Buckley, taken after she rescued me in 2006.

This poem was originally written by Janine Allen CPDT, Rescue Me Dog’s professional dog trainer. Janine’s passion is working with people and their dogs. She provides demonstrations for those who have adopted shelter dogs, lends email support to adopted dog owners that need information beyond our Training Support Pages, and aids shelter staff and volunteers in understanding dog behavior to increase their adoptability. Copyright 2011 Rescue Me Dog; http://www.rescuemedog.org/.

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Book Review: Guardians of Being

Guardians of Being combines the words of Eckhart Tolle, author of The Power of Now and A New Earth, with the whimsical illustrations of Patrick McDonnell, the creator of the MUTTS cartoons,  in a heartwarming, inspirational and joyful package.  The Oprah Magazine has called the book “an inspired collaboration between spiritual teacher Echkart Tolle and comic strip artist Patrick McDonnell.  A book to make you wiggle with joy.”

From the publisher:  “More than a collection of witty and charming drawings, the marriage of Patrick McDonnell’s art and Eckhart Tolle’s words conveys a profound love of nature, of animals, of humans, of all life-forms.  Guardians of Being celebrates and reminds us of not only the oneness of all life but also the wonder and joy to be found in the present moment, amid the beauty we sometimes forget to notice all around us.”

This is a book to be treasured.  The wisdom of the words, combined with the charming illustrations, make this a book to be savored, not just to be read.  Browsing through this book is an almost meditative experience, and it will most definitely remind the reader about what really matters in life.

Two of my favorite quotes from the book are:

Everything natural – every flower, tree, and animal – has important lessons to teach us if we would only stop, look, and listen.

Just watching an animal closely can take you out of your mind and bring you into the present moment, which is where the animal lives all the time – surrendered to life.

I have always believed that animals are amazing teachers.  It’s nice to see that I’m in good company.  Treat yourself to this book – and while you’re at it, pick one up for your closest friend.

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Life Lessons from Our Pets

I have always believed that animals come into our lives to teach us. First and foremost, they teach us about unconditional love. But they also teach us to stretch and grow, to reach beyond our self-imposed limits, and to expand our consciousness. They take us to places we did not think were possible for us to go. I’ve been fortunate to have a number of these animals in my life. 

There was my soul mate kitty, Feebee, who was instrumental in guiding me from an unsatisfactory corporate job to a fulfilling career in the veterinary profession.  For the first time in my life, I discovered what loving what you do for a living feels like.  There was my office cat Virginia, who made my dream of a fulfilling career complete. Whenever I had visualized my perfect job, that dream had always included a cat sleeping in a sunny spot on my desk. One of Virginia’s favorite sleeping places was the spot right next to my computer on my desk at the animal hospital, in front of a sunny window.  There was Buckley, who changed my life in ways I never could have imagined by helping me discover my true passion.  Her lessons were profound enough to inspire an entire book.  And there is Amber, who I share my life with now.  Her gentle, wise presence brings love and affection into my life every day, and she inspired this site, which is dedicated to sharing information about health, happiness and conscious living for pets and their people. 

I’ve found that there are three main lessons that all animals teach us, if only we are willing to listen.  

  1. The teach us to live in the moment.  Our pets don’t spend time analyzing the past, and they don’t worry about the future.  They are fully focused on whatever it is they are doing in the present moment, whether it’s enjoying a meal, playing with a favorite toy, or napping in the sunny spot on the rug.
  2. They help us to slow down.  We get so caught up in the business of our daily lives, and we rarely take enough time to relax.  Spending time with our pets is the best stress relief I know of.  Research has shown that simply petting a dog or cat can lower your blood pressure.
  3. They help us connect with our spiritual core.  As humans, we have an innate need to get in touch with something greater than ourselves.  For some people, this connection comes through religion, for others, it comes from being in nature.  For me, it has always come from being around animals.    

Listen to the animals in your life – you might be surprised at the lessons they have to teach you.

What have you learned from your pets?

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