|I know, Annie. Hard to believe, but true.|
The attitude that I frequently see from some of these types of people (and I seem to encounter a lot of them) is honest puzzlement for how much of my life is now taken up with my own pets, and as if that isn't enough, how much time I spend volunteering in order to get homeless pets adopted by someone else. The attitude is, "it's just an animal..."
And I'm not here to be critical of these people, even though I find them as bizarre as they seem to find me, but to show how some of these creatures that are "just animals" have really changed my life, and I think for the better.
First, they've taught me to slow down. I will admit it... I am one of those Type A people, who always has a goal, or a project, and am pursuing it full steam ahead. I will work at my job all week, and then throw myself into weekend projects, and am very bad about not giving myself any downtime. But how can you not slow down when Charlotte is on the bathroom rug, showing you her expanse of white belly... or Maera comes up and nuzzles your elbow for attention... or Argos leans up against your legs... or Bit trills at you and then races to the bed, in an obvious attempt to get you to nap with her... or Annie climbs onto your pillow JUST as you were thinking of getting up to start your day?
And sometimes, you just need to slow down and enjoy those around you. My animals have taught me this lesson, one that I may have never learned without them.
|Yeah, Mom, slow down and smell the Christmas tree!|
Second, they're teaching me how to trust. Trust is something that does not come easily to me. There were some wrongs done to me by people who should have been friends that quite honestly had me very bitter and untrusting of people in general. As a general rule, I expected to be betrayed. I expected for friends to randomly inform me that they were sick of me. Or that I had some huge flaw that suddenly made me not good enough for them. Which meant that I was prickly, difficult to get to know, and reluctant to trust. While I'm not saying that I've "arrived" and suddenly trust all people, the animals have really taught me to open up. They provide companionship without judgement, they never talk about me behind my back, they don't lecture me on my "odious" personal habits, they don't try to correct any perceived bad behaviors with long-winded lectures. They just love. And trust. And they're teaching me to do the same.
Patience. Really, does anyone that reads this blog need to have explained how an animal can teach you patience? I've become much more patient with the humans in my life too, and it is thanks to my animals and the lessons they have taught me.
Selflessness. Not that I was little Miss Selfish before the animals, but I have made decisions that I never would have thought I'd be making... decisions that hurt my pocketbook, compromises on household decoration, doing activities that I knew the animals would enjoy even when I really wanted to stay in bed. I sometimes even let the dogs take over the couch, something that maybe some dominance-styled trainers would cringe at but meh. It makes them happy, so it makes me happy. If I needed to sit, one of the doggies would get gently ejected.
|Argos is so worn out from today's Hound Hike that he can't support his own tongue....|
But the most important thing that my animals have taught me is the Art of Joyful Living. I was happy before I had them, don't get me wrong, but watching them live in the moment, to truly express JOY undamped by worry, anxiety or anger is an inspiration to me. I resolve to myself every day to approach life like they do - to live in the moment. Obviously, I have to plan ahead and be responsible, etc., something that they don't have to worry about, but I can still put my worries on hold and experience the joy when I see Argos and Maera frisking across the dew-soaked yard. Or when Charlotte makes eye contact with me and "gronks" her morning greeting to me. Or when Bit folds herself around my foot and "hugs" it. Or even when Annie sits on my head to wake me up in the morning. Or when the fosters greet me with a cacophony of loud, Siamese-like yowling (Mitchell) and tiny little baby mews (Patches) when I go into their room first thing in the morning.
|You got all of that out of a gronk? Weirdo...|
And THAT is why I look at them like I think they're crazy when they say, "But it's just an animal..."