Animal Wise: Lessons from My Pets

Our pets have thoughts, emotions, and lots to teach us – if we’re paying attention.

I live with my husband, stepdaughter, dog, cat, tortoise, and fish in a high-rise apartment. It may sound crazy and cramped, but it’s not. It’s vibrant and full of life … lots of inter-species love and only the occasional inter-species scuffle.

I can’t imagine living in a home not filled with the energy of these amazing creatures. Our “city house zoo” makes us laugh, keeps us centered, and reminds us what’s most important in life: love. Every one of our animals has a unique lesson to teach us.

Lucy, our dog (a Schipperke/Aussie mix) teaches us the lesson of nurturing. She was abandoned and fostered in many homes before she came to us. It was a hard life, and she’s eager to please. Her sensitive face is always full of feeling. Sometimes when I’m rushing around, just a glance at her watchful eyes will remind me to slow down. She’s the kind of dog who always wants to be good and needs lots of gentleness to let her know that everything is okay and she is loved.

Rex, our fluffy tuxedo cat, invites us to be silly. He cracks me up at least 10 times a day. When we brought him home from the rescue at just 12 weeks old, we thought he might grow out of his kittenish antics, but … no. He’s always getting into something, trying to make Lucy chase him, playing hide and seek, hunting raindrops on the windowpanes. When he runs from me and then rolls over for a tummy rub, I see a glint in his eye that I know is laughter.

Tony, our Russian tortoise, reminds us not to underestimate ourselves. He now ambles out of his hutch when we call his name (a handful of fresh greens helps). He loves to explore, and he’s faster than you’d think. His excursions around the apartment often end with one of us saying, “Hey, where’s Tony? He was right here!” Sometimes we find him curled up under a window, his long green neck stretched out as he naps in the sun.

Sapphire, our beta fish, encourages us to practice gratitude. He dances up to the edge of the glass every time we walk by, and practically pops out of the water when we feed him. He’s in a smallish tank but you’d never know by the way he does laps and twirls in the water all day long, making bubble nests and fanning out his fins. Like Tony, Saphhire has loads of personality, more than you might expect for such a tiny creature. His little world is enough, and that’s a lovely reminder.


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“I’ve often had the gut feeling that my dog and cats have mental and emotional lives …. Isn’t that one reason, perhaps the main reason, we have pets in our homes? We want the company of lively, expressive creatures, beings that can be fun and loving, grumpy and bored, and that relate to and respond to us as only another living being can.” ~Virginia Morrel, Animal Wise

Read an excerpt from Virginia Morell’s bestselling book Animal Wise: How We Know Animals Think and Feel.

What do your pets teach you? Tell us in a comment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Rita Kochmarjova/Shutterstock


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