Like me, you’ve probably not done the numbers, but I bet you’ll agree that pets take primacy on Facebook. Everything from adorable poses of pups snuggled up on the sofa with their feline friends, incredible rescue tales (us of them, them of us) and funny videos of pets at play are documented for all to see and enjoy. In time, we inevitably read of their passage to the Rainbow Bridge and the wrenching heartache that ensues. Ever wonder why so much public sharing of pets?
The answer, in my mind, is obvious. Animals are magic. Unlike the complicated relationships with our human friends, acquaintances and family, those with our pets sidestep complexities to tug at our heartstrings, unimpeded. For anyone with any experience with animals, this is universally understood—and so, we share. Where pets are concerned, even those who are only internet friends, can join in our celebrations and sorrow.
We’re blessed with Max and Maggie, our 9-year-old Springer Spaniels. This pair is so fulfilling they no longer are stay-at-home pets, waiting to brighten our day after a long grind. Whenever possible, we bring them to work. They are our office mascots. Loving and slightly quirky, each with idiosyncrasies all their own, they visit and check on everyone in the office. They’ve even charmed the FedEx drivers, who bring them treats. (See? We can quantify their effectiveness as mascots!) Like therapy dogs, these two fur babies have an uncanny ability to intuit when anyone at the office is stressed or having a bad day. Whether literally or figuratively, they sniff out unsettling emotions. Then they press their wet noses and warm bodies close. They make their presence known. They are there to comfort, to help. But their value in our lives isn’t limited to the tough times.
Like your own pets, Max and Maggie love us unconditionally. More important, they give us an opportunity to unconditionally love them back. And this, my friends, is an open door to sanctuary. The two-way flow of love—its emotional enrichment and the safe zone it creates—issanctuary. Days the pups are not at the office seem hollow and strange. They are missed.
Maybe your pet of choice sports feathers instead of fur. Or even quills or fins. Makes no difference. One of today’s most fascinating, myth-busting conversations is on trans-species bonds. No longer are humans regarded as supremely unique, as once believed. Books like Sy Montgomery’s “The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness,” is mind-blowing in its revelation of these eight-armed cephalopods’ ability to emote—jetting water, bouncing balls, squirting ink, and changing color according to mood and preference of human companions. (Yes, octopuses have their own faves, BFFs and people they just don’t click with.) If you don’t mind crying, G.A. Bradshaw’s “Elephants on the Edge: What Animals Teach Us about Humanity” will mean you never think of elephants as anything but emotional, sentient creatures.
Take advantage of time with your pets. Reduce your stress by taking a break. Get down on the floor for pet playtime. Regardless your pet preference, animals add a restorative and peaceful quality to your life. Pet your pet. Burying your fingers or feet into their soft fur is grounding and comforting.
And remember, what you give matters more than what you get. The care you show your pet feeding, grooming, and providing the best life possibly comes full circle to restore your soul.Let me know what kind of pets rock your world. What’s special about your fur, feather or fin babies? What favorite activities do you engage in with them? What’s most comforting about having them in your life? I’d love to know.