Pet Corner
What Do Animals Teach Us
about Dealing with Change?

By Allen and Linda Anderson
 

 

Animals are wise teachers for how to deal with change. Most of our animal family members over the years were rescued from shelters or places where no one else wanted them. They were moved around with no understanding of where and why they had been displaced.

They landed in our home with all the baggage that comes from nearly unbearable stress and uncertainty. Yet the dogs, cats, and birds we have known somehow managed to forgive humans for neglecting or abusing them, adjusted to life in a mixed-species household, healed their wounds, and helped us through our own trying times. How’s that for coping with change?

In our book, “Angel Horses,” Pamela Jenkins of Henryetta, Oklahoma, wrote, “Take a Bow, Sparky.” She introduces a horse that demonstrates a major tool for making change go more smoothly: You might find that old tricks are new again. In other words, applying skills and talents you previously found useful may help you successfully adapt to the next phase of your journey.

Pamela was a little girl living on a farm when her father brought home a twelve-year-old gelding named Sparky. After Pamela’s first ride on the pony ended in a sudden stop dumping her on the ground, Pamela’s father made sure his daughter was okay. Then he casually put his hand on Sparky’s neck and gave the horse a pat on the chest.

This gesture triggered an unexpected response in the pony. Pamela writes, “Sparky dropped his head and bent his knees. He extended one front leg and, like a courtly gentleman, gave a bow.”

After Pamela and her father witnessed Sparky’s trick, they burst into laughter. Then they tried to find out more about the horse’s past. Turns out, Sparky had been a trick-performing pony. Others who had had the pony didn’t realize this about him, but Sparky, now that he was somewhere with children and a home he liked, had called upon his old resources.

Through all their years together, Sparky entertained Pamela, her brother, and the rest of the family with funny movements he remembered. Sparky perpetually entertained with tricks like curling his lip into a smile, nodding his head up and down, and rearing up on his hind legs.

Rather than going into a depression over having to make one more change in his life, this resourceful pony not only became the family’s one-horse entertainment center, but also he marched in their hometown’s yearly parade. Pamela says, “Sparky loved people and enjoyed being the center of attention.”

Throughout his life, Sparky brought delight to his home. Pamela closes her story by writing, “Even in his old age, he continued to pull surprises out of his hidden bag of tricks, like opening the pasture gate and bringing us the bucket at feeding time. Take a bow, Sparky. You were one in a million.”

 

Making the Best of It
 
Sometimes, handling change involves accepting that life has opened another door and whatever is on the other side will offer an opportunity for spiritual growth.

One of our favorite stories about this aspect of change came from Christina Louise Dicker. We published her story “Farm Animal Friendships” in our Angel Animals Story of the Week newsletter. It demonstrates the principle that if we accept that Divine Spirit always works to our benefit, we can forge new relationships that wouldn’t have been possible previously.

“Our old Suffolk ram [a male sheep], whom we called Rambo, was due for retirement and needed to be separated from his ewes, so we placed him in the front paddock with Ginger, our huge sow [a female pig]. This arrangement suited me well, since the front paddock was right beside the house, and I would be able to observe them from the kitchen window.

“At first, Ginger and Rambo were wary of each other and remained a respectful distance apart. However, as the weeks wore on, these two very different creatures began to grow more familiar. I enjoyed watching their friendship develop. They would graze together on the lush pasture, and when they’d had their fill, they’d lie together in the sunshine. There were many occasions when I saw them resting side-by-side and sneak out with my camera, hoping to capture the moment.

“After a few months, Ginger and Rambo became more obviously affectionate toward each other. The only time they chose to be apart was in the evening when they would each retire to their respective sheds to sleep for the night.

“The seasons changed. The days were warm and pleasant. One particular day, I had spent a busy morning in the kitchen. Glancing out the window from time to time, I noticed the pig and the sheep were nowhere to be seen. That afternoon, my husband and I checked on all the animals and this was the day we discovered how strong the bond between Ginger and Rambo had become.

“Inside the sheep shed, Rambo’s body lay still and lifeless — old age had finally caught up with him. A couple of feet away, Ginger lay quietly watching over the body, reluctant to leave her friend alone. Ginger had remained at his side since his death, which must have been several hours earlier.

“It was a sad sight to behold, yet it struck me as having enormous significance from an educational perspective: If we lower our defenses and learn to trust a little, we offer our new relationships a chance to grow. Eventually we may find that love has no boundaries. The pig and the sheep were a fine example.”

 

Being Open to Blessings of Change
 
Change is an inevitable part of life. Most of us, stuck in our old mental patterns and habits, struggle against it. When we relax into change, maybe whining or complaining for a while, but then releasing our anxieties into the Life Stream, often the Divine will provide a sign that we aren’t alone or abandoned.

This was the case in another of our newsletter stories. Stay-at-home mom and freelance writer, Maxine Clark, wrote about the help she received with a painful transition in “The Bird.”

“We moved from the country, where the big, red sun paints the sky and sinks into the horizon almost within touching distance; from where birds chirp and sing, and coyotes howl in the distance; to next door to the freeway and noise, noise, noise. Our house was across the alley from the protecting fence of an on-ramp.

“The first night in our new home, it felt as though cars and trucks traveled across our roof. Putting it mildly, it was hard to sleep. “Lord,” I said, “I miss the country. I wish a part of the country could come here.”

“The Lord responded by sending a bird. Early the next morning, a bird came to the bedroom window, pecked on the pane to get my attention, and then sang a beautiful song. I don’t think the song was even copyrighted yet. He sang to me every day for several mornings. It was just what I needed to quiet my heart and be assured that God understood and cared.”

In the excellent book “How to Master Change in Your Life: Sixty-Seven Ways to Handle Life’s Toughest Moments” (ECKANKAR Books, 1997), author Mary Carroll Moore writes, “Our first step in mastering change is to regain the inner confidence that as Soul, a unique spiritual being, we are co-creators with life, and with God, in the small and major changes. Our purpose in life is to become more aware of being in this creative, joyful state. And each change life brings us is custom-designed to teach us how to be more aware of who and what we really are.”

What could animals teach you about mastering change?

Allen and Linda Anderson are founders of the Angel Animals Network and authors of a series of books about the spiritual connection between people and animals, published by New World Library. “Angel Animals: Divine Messengers of Miracles” is their newest book. Subscribe to the free, online Angel Animals Story of the Week at www.angelanimals.net Visit the Andersons’s other websites: www.rescuedsavinganimals.net, www.writingontherun.com


Return to the January/February Index page