Why do you want to have a relationship with a pet?
We sometimes hear or read the argument that living with a pet isn’t a reasonable or logical lifestyle choice. The cost of vet bills and food, the additional cleaning that is necessary, and other responsibilities seem prohibitive to some.
And why would people willingly put themselves through emotional loss, when they know that someday, a beloved animal will leave or die? Many who have never lived with animals question the motivation (and sanity) of those who share their homes and lives with pets.
For those who haven’t experienced a human-animal spiritual connection, sincere animal lovers seem to lack common sense. Pet lovers are accused of having emotional weakness and immaturity, which spring from their lack of “real” human contact and companionship. They must be severely bored to need animals as their source of amusement.
When Linda types this line, our cat Speedy looks at the screen as if to ask, “Do you think that’s true? Do I amuse you?” Linda strokes her hand down the cat’s back and replies, “Yes, you do, but that’s not the only reason we love you.”
Our black-and-white cat Cuddles seems to know exactly what to do when we need encouragement. Her special way to offer comfort is to touch her paw ever so gently on the shoulder of the one who needs a little extra TLC. Her eyes peer straight into that person’s heart and without one word spoken say, “You are loved.”
Our dog Leaf wiggles, licks with his soft pink tongue, and wags his tail in circles to let us know that his offer of friendship is unequivocal.
Our cockatiel Sunshine whistles and says, “I love you, sweet baby.” Who could mistake that sign of affection?
Do you notice when an animal gives you a gentle touch and wide-eyed, innocent look of unconditional love? In today’s busy lifestyle it’s easy to ignore these signals that love is all around.
Stop, look, listen, observe, be grateful. The pet relationships in your life are uplifting you in ways you may not be noticing.
How Do Animals Know?
Another aspect of relationships with pets is the mystery of how animals know what a person needs. Then it’s an even bigger mystery why they choose to give it to them, especially when the animal might rather be doing something else.
Linda and Allen were invited to speak and have a booth at the Natural Connections Learning Center’s fundraising event (see www.naturalconnectionslc.org/). The guest speaker was our hero Linda Tellington-Jones. At the event we spoke about Viola, a Norwegian fjord from Natural Connections. Viola was being stabled that evening in an enclosure directly behind the Angel Animals Network’s booth. So she served as our guardian angel.
Viola’s story is written by Tanya K. Welsch in our book, Horses with a Mission. The story offers a beautiful example of a horse that could have chosen to live out her life in carefree relaxation but instead gave of herself to people who needed her.
Viola was brought over to the United States to be a brood mare and help bring this rare breed to the country. She had ten babies. Although she must have been pretty worn out, she shone as a good mother with strong nurturing instincts.
By the time Viola arrived at Natural Connections, she had already started showing a natural inclination to transfer her mothering skills to animal-assisted therapy. The story in Horses with a Mission tells how Viola changed the life of a young girl we called Amy who had gone through much hardship and suffering. Every step of the way in this girl’s healing process, Viola knew exactly what to do and how to do it. Viola became such a positive influence on the troubled teenager that Amy began having dreams and internal dialogue with the horse. Amy internalized Viola’s ability to guide her into helpful versus self-destructive choices.
This kind of thing happens with pets. People find themselves wanting to live up to the positive images their animal family members have of them. The old saying about wanting to be the person my dog thinks I am has a lot of truth to it.
Leaf Decides to Intensify the Relationship
We have enjoyed the process of growing a trusting relation-ship with our rescued cocker spaniel Leaf. In a nightly ritual we invite him onto the bed for kisses and talking about the day’s activities. After we have our bedtime visit Linda turns off the bedside lamp. Each night, Leaf chooses to jump off the bed and sleep on his bed, on the floor, next to ours.
One night, Linda had a conversation with Leaf that went something like this, with Leaf telepathically communicating his thoughts:
Linda: “Leaf, you could stay on our bed and sleep if you want.”
Leaf: “It’s not my style.”
Linda: “Other dogs sleep on beds with their people.”
Leaf sat on our bed for a minute and thought. He is a highly competitive fellow. Was he missing out on something? Soon, he made up his mind. He went to the other side of our bed, fluffed up the covers, plopped down, and closed his eyes.
As usual, Linda turned off the bedside lamp. This night, though, Leaf, not being one who usually can tolerate much intimacy, uncharacteristically stayed on the bed until about 2:00 in the morning. Then he jumped off and went back to his own bed. The next night, without any prompting, he jumped up on our bed, fluffed up the covers, and slept on the bed till 4:00 in the morning. On the third night, he’d had enough of all this togetherness. For the rest of the week he slept on his own bed.
But something had changed inside of him. On the days after sleeping on our bed, he was more affectionate all day long. He initiated petting and kissing sessions and stayed nearby instead of going off by himself.
Nearness to us is a good thing for Leaf. When he falls asleep alone, he wakes up, startled and afraid. He appears to return to the emotionally scary space when he was abandoned before winding up at the animal shelter and safe in our home. Now after three years with us, he is beginning to understand that he doesn’t have to be lonely and fend for himself.
Why did Leaf change his mind about sleeping on the bed? Was he sensing that this is what we wanted and he’s giving it to us? He’s not saying.
Why do you think animals give gifts when we need them most?
Allen and Linda Anderson are founders of the Angel Animals Network and authors of a series of books published by New World Library about the spiritual connection between people and animals. “Horses with a Mission: Extraordinary True Stories of Equine Service” is their new book of inspiring stories. Subscribe to the free, online newsletter at http://www.angelanimals.net and participate in the Angel Animals forums and blogs. Become fans of Angel Animals on Facebook and follow @angelanimals on Twitter.