Animals and the Art of Having Fun
By Allen and Linda Anderson
The black and white kitty sat in the window ledge, looking out at squirrels skittering by and birds swooping down from the sky. Only her white whiskers twitched as soft spring air breezed past her face. Occasionally her tail, with the tip looking as if it had been dipped in vanilla ice cream, waved back and forth, charting the movement of a neighbor out for a jog or a mother pushing her baby’s carriage on the sidewalk. Nothing disturbed this cat. No muscles twitched in her body as she rested on her chest, paws tucked like a monk’s hands with-in the folds of long black sleeves.
This is a cat who has mastered the art of having fun. She has discovered the joy of letting life pass by without needing to participate in or control it.
Most of us have had memorable experiences with animal companions who have shown us how to play by throwing a ball, chasing a string, grooming feathers or hair, or playing hide and seek. Their antics have added much to our sometimes overburdened days and nights.
As part of the spiritual and deeply loving connections people and animals make with each other, one agreement that seems to be universal is that when we most need it, animals will show us how to become more balanced. Through their friendship and creativeness, pets enrich our lives by bringing smiles to our faces.
Let Us Entertain You
In our home we’ve learned that animals serve as messengers when God or Life is trying to let us know that it’s time to dump the workload, release our attachments to getting things accomplished, and relax.
Our Labrador retriever, Taylor, is an example of an animal who knows what is good for heart and soul. She sits, ball in mouth, ready to run, catch, run, catch, run. If we’re not paying enough attention to the rules of her game, she throws the ball for herself with gusto until one of us gets the message. If we still don’t figure out that it’s supposed to be playtime, Taylor will even throw her ball to the cat, Cuddles.
We’ve observed how Cuddles can make almost anything into a toy. She sits like a princess for long periods of time and then without warning attacks a paper clip, rubber band, or Q-tip that has fallen to the floor. The object becomes a monster that she has to stalk, hunt, and conquer. This cat can see the most innocent objects and with her creative imagination turn them into playthings. If only we could amuse ourselves that well, we wouldn’t feel the need to rent videos or go to movies to entertain ourselves.
Jake and Jill
We’ve received many stories from people who rescued animals and, in turn, felt rescued by them. During times of hardship, animals help people move past their emotional turmoil into a brighter outlook.
Jill East from North Carolina sent the Angel Animals Network a story about how a special dog friend named Jake taught her to slow down and enjoy each day.
“The first time I saw Jake, I fell in love. I knew he was meant to be with me. A three-month-old border-collie mix, this ball of fur and love needed a home. I had recently moved into my first house and was happy to adopt this dog to share it with me.
“Jake and I had a strong spiritual connection on every level. I could think about something and he’d respond. Many times I’d look at him and his love would engulf me. He’d wake up from a sound sleep and look at me with so much love in his eyes that it would overwhelm me.
“Everyone who met this dog saw his uniqueness and loved him. We visited a rest home for five years together and there, Jake impacted many lives. He brought smiles to faces of people who otherwise no longer responded to anyone. He knew who needed special attention and gave it with love and tenderness. Jake was a ray of sunshine for their darkened lives.
“One of the things I loved most about Jake was that he knew how to have fun. He was a comedian and prankster who loved to make people laugh. No matter how down I felt, he could make me grin.
“Once we were going to visit my parents and I put Jake in the car. I was running late and getting stressed. Then I had to go back in the house to get something I’d forgotten. By the time I came back to the car, Jake had gotten in the driver’s seat and put his paw on the steering wheel. It looked as if he was saying, ‘I think I’ll drive today.’
“I couldn’t resist taking a picture of Jake driving my car, so I ran in the house for the camera. While I was gone, Jake stayed in the same position, still posing and grinning. This was a dog who always let me know when I needed to slow down, not take it all so seriously, and have a good laugh.
“Another time, Jake got bit by a snake on his back paw and was very sick for several days. When I brought him home from the vet, I must have been overdoing the special attention and “poor Jake” talk. He would hold his head down and limp around like the most pitiful creature in the world.
“Several days later, he was still doing the “poor Jake” routine. I let him outside to potty and looked out the window. That’s when I saw him tearing through the yard without the slightest limp.
“I went out and called him to come. He ducked his head and limped back to me. I said, “OK Jake, I’m onto your game. I know you’re not hurt anymore.”
“He seemed to sense that the gig was up. He never limped again. What a character!
“Throughout our time together, Jake taught me to have fun, enjoy life, savor the moment. He was a wise soul and a great teacher.”
Have animals been trying to teach you to stop the frenzy, live in the present, and fine more joy in your life?
Allen and Linda Anderson are co-editors of “Angel Animals: Exploring Our Spiritual Connection with Animals” (A Plume Book, 1999) in local and Internet bookstores. You may get their free online newsletter at www.angelanimals.net . Story submissions for their next book, website, and articles are gratefully accepted at P.O. Box 26354, Minneapolis, MN 55426 or by e-mail at AngelAnimals@aol.com . For more information call (952) 925-3309.
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