Who Rescued Who?
Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. ~Anatole France
There are so many benefits to having a pet that it’s hard to count them all! Pets provide us with unconditional love, motivate us to play and exercise, and keep depression and loneliness at bay. People with pets live longer, spend less time at the doctor’s office, and are happier overall, and it’s certainly not a one way street – our pets benefit from the arrangement, too! The other day, I saw a bumper sticker on a car that made this point perfectly. Inside a big paw print were the words “who rescued who?”
That bumper sticker made me think of Ida, a neighbor I had years ago. When I met her, she was in her mid-nineties. Her independent and cheerful spirit immediately struck me – she was entirely self-sufficient, and lived alone with only her ancient Pomeranian, Princess, for company. Princess gave Ida an excuse to get out and interact with the world several times a day. Everyone in the neighborhood was used to seeing the little grey-haired woman and her tiny, teetering dog making their way along the street. These walks kept them both active, healthy, and in touch with their neighbors, who kept an eye out every day to make sure that Ida and Princess made their scheduled rounds. The two friends carried on for years, living in their little house, until, as if they had agreed that it was time, Princess passed away, and a few days later, Ida, at 98, followed. The two were so devoted to each other, I could never figure out who was taking care of whom!
As a spiritual teacher, I know that one of the most powerful forces in the universe is unconditional love. If you provide your pets with food, shelter, affection, and medical care, they will pay you back by supplying you with unconditional love and a sense of purpose, both of which are crucial for anyone, especially those who are out of work, living alone, or just feeling down in the dumps. Pets combat feelings of loneliness by providing companionship, which can boost your overall mood and bring you feelings of joy and happiness. At my healing courses, I can always tell which attendees have a pet and which do not. Your apartment doesn’t allow an animal? Then try an aquarium; fish are pets too!
Or course, the elderly aren’t the only ones who benefit from having pets. In fact, pet ownership is great practice for any serious, committed relationship. Here are some important relationship skills that you probably already use on your pets. Try some of these and I guarantee that you, your pet, and your “human” relationships will benefit!
Unconditional love starts with a warm greeting! Even on bad days, we greet our pets with a warm hello, a pat on the head, or a hug. Of course it helps that they are always so happy to see us! This is a terrific example of the fact that “you get what you give.” Your pet gives you something very positive that reinforces the love and connection that they get back from you. Do you greet your significant other with the same enthusiasm after a long day at work?
Tune in and develop your listening skills. You can practice this basic energy healing technique to sense what your pet has to say. They will always tell you what their problem is if you just tune in and listen. When you’re sitting quietly with your pet, with no TV or computer on, simply intend to open to whatever your pet wants to tell you. Touch your pet gently, and you may “hear” or “know” what your dog or cat has to say. Now put these same intuitive skills to work when dealing with the people in your life!
Practice the art of forgiveness. When our pets make mistakes, we don’t take it personally and are quick to forgive. It’s easy to give pets the benefit of the doubt when they look at us with their big, soulful eyes! Remember that feeling when your partner does something wrong, and pause for a moment before you react with anger and blame!
Having a pet is a beautiful way to share the light of unconditional love with your pet and everyone else in your life. If you are ready to open your heart, live a happier and healthier life, and hone your relationship skills so you can be a better friend, parent, or spouse . . . get a pet!