Our pets are so important to us and give rise to great expressions of emotion and love.
One writer wrote, “My dog is not my whole life, my dog just made my life whole.”
Another wrote, “It is no accident that God spelled backwards is dog.”
Anyone who is a pet owner knows where these powerful words come from; they are inspired by the pets that give so much to their families. The unconditional love and affection that our pets give us is priceless. Our pets also help to raise our children and to teach them important lessons about life. We had a cranky Tom cat that would go out every night in his younger days to fight and make those strange cat fight noises.
My wife tried to interfere with his going out one time and paid the price. I used to try to sit by him and he was intolerant of being petted, his back feet would come up and he would lightly bite to say, “go away.” Incredibly, there were pictures of the old cat draped over my daughters shoulder or around her waist. There were also pictures of the surly old man in hats and baby clothes; to my daughter he was kind, loving and very tolerant.
He was our cranky old man until he was 16 years old. To know the love of a pet is to know the love of someone that loves you just as you are, in fact, they think that you are awesome just the way you are. Our pets don’t remember when we are moody or cranky; my old golden retriever Jazz would look at me as if to say, “This too will pass.”
Our pets take every occasion to greet us with enthusiasm and joy every time we come home even if we have only been gone a few hours.
While my daughter was growing up we had two golden retrievers at home, Jazz and Rooney. Jazz was always calm and wise even as a puppy. Jazz never chewed things or acted in those wild puppy ways, that was Rooney. So great was his zeal for chewing that upon returning home one day when Rooney was a puppy, he had chewed a hole through a pumpkin pine door that was original to my old house big enough to get his head through.
Many shoes fell prey to his penchant for chewing. Sadly, Rooney had cancer and at five years old he died. It was a sad day for us and my daughter learned something about grieving during this period as she loved Rooney as we all did. Our cherished pets leave us and it helps us to realize how important every day is with our loved ones human or pet.
Our pets also provide many smiles, cute pictures and laughter as they express their individual personalities within our families. Jazz, a golden retriever and water dog, cannot swim, when first we saw her flailing wildly in the water, it both a humorous and curious site. Jazz never goes into water above her chest.
Our pets teach us that getting old does not diminish your value and in fact, age makes you more important. My old dog Jazz has trouble getting up sometimes now; still, whenever my wife or I come home, she greets us with an excited body shaking welcome. Jazz has those brown, sad and wise eyes. Sometimes she sits near me and near my wood stove and if I don’t pet her in short order she looks right at me and barks as if to say, pet me. Then she moves her paw up and down, not to shake hands but rather to say, notice me please.
Now as Jazz is declining, we take every opportunity to hug her and rub her old back to let her know that we honor what she has given our family. Jazz has helped us to be a family; she has modeled the behavior that most of us humans fall short of. Her face is almost completely white now and when she fixes her eyes upon you must go to her. Her familiar smell reminds me of home. She loves when you get down on the floor with her so you can put your head against hers and your arms around her neck.
Jazz has always been a dog who wants to be with her family. She never wandered away from home even as a puppy and if a family member is around, there she is also. Jazz has been a constant reminder that being welcoming, kind, forgiving and loyal are ideals that we all should strive for. Alas, most of us are just humans with human frailties and short comings.
Only our pets seem to be able to consistently rise to these highly prized character traits.
Remember. All kids count.
Reach the writer at Hurlburt@wildblue.net