From the first of April to the fifth of May 2014 it’s National Pet Month! The goal of this time is to make the public aware of the benefits of owning a pet and the contribution pets can make to society on a whole. Let’s face it folks, when you get your first pet you never really know what is in store for your life. Some of us get that great dog that is low key and sweet, basically an angel in disguise. Others get a cat that meows non-stop at all hours of the night, only to snooze happily by day as you stare at them in wonder with your second cup of coffee.
For people who are pet owners or “animal people” you have already learned that you are a part of another group of people. You are a part of a select group that has learned that a dog is not just a dog nor is a horse just a horse (of course). When you get a pet what you are really getting are life lessons in a cute package because believe me, when you meet another “animal person” the stories you will share will make you laugh and recall your own instance with a pet either from your youth or one you are currently blessed with. On the whole, the things they teach you can be basic or complex, but one lesson they teach you is how much something, that everyone else calls just an “animal,” can own such a large piece of your heart.
I have had the pleasure of meeting animals briefly that have made huge impacts in my life and my outlooks. As a child I was an adamant cat person. Dogs were silly things that slobbered on me as far as I knew, and then I got my first dog…
How hard can it be to take care of a dog? Boy what a silly question. I am sure many dog owners smiled at that question. But the best lesson Logan Marie taught me was that dogs love you unconditonally. They are always happy to see you. Logan was one of those rare perfect dogs. If I had not gotten her first, I doubt I would be the person I am today. That may sound like I am being dramatic but the truth is, she taught me that life without a dog is like the sky without the sun. If I didn’t have Logan I would have never gotten my second dog, Lucia, and I would never have come to volunteer at T-bar. Nor would I be the doggie foster mom I am today. It’s funny how one simple act like getting your first dog can cause so many other things to happen. Some teachers have four legs.
Animals can also teach us how to overcome something. For me that was a lesson I really needed to learn after coming back into work after a year of being horribly sick and in and out of hospitals. Once well, I had been given labels that now were added to who I was. Illness labels I did not want and I felt almost ashamed of and then I met Jasmine. Jasmine is a beautiful horse at T-bar that is blind, at best she may be able to see shadows. Even so when I first took her picture and met her, she moved around so well that I had no clue she could not see. I snapped away thinking she was just another pretty face and then Melanie explained to me that she was nearly sightless. I was breathless. Since horses are easily spooked at times I did a double take at the calm creature that was tilting her head to the side with, what looked like, a grin on her face. She moved around, she was alive and she was happy. I went home that night and took her example to heart. I wasn’t going to be sad about my new labels anymore. I was going to embrace them and move on! Thank you Jasmine for being my inspiration. Jasmine is also used at Kid Camps at T-bar to show kids that being different doesn’t have to slow you down. They meet her first and pet her, and only after are they told of her condition. All the kids react the same way I did when I was told.
I confess that being a cat person as a child made me think I knew everything about cats. And then I picked up a stray off the side of the road. Jason and I had friends that had lost their cat and we thought we found him. We had not. Instead we found our new cat, Lucky. We tried to find him a home because our other cat Sarah wasn’t thrilled he was around. But anyone that wanted him wanted to place him outside which would not work because he is crossed eyed. Lucky surprised me because he wasn’t a cat at all but a dog in cat’s clothing. He came when called just once, he went out with the dogs and came back in when they were done playing outside. His personality didn’t match his looks at all and I made the choice to keep him when I was asked by a possible adoptor if he had blue eyes. She didn’t want a cat with blue eyes! I looked down at him with the phone in my hand and watched him snuggle between Logan and our dog Lucia. He sighed so contently I didn’t have the heart to rip him from his pack. Who knew a cat could be a dog?
After already owning four dogs I figured I knew it all. You would think Lucky would have taken me down a peg but hey I was younger then. I got Jack after Logan passed away. It wasn’t an easy decision but Lucia was grieving worse than even I was, so I adopted Jack. He is the first male dog I have ever had and holy cow what a ride. As with Logan and Lucia and our other dog Chloe, I put Jack in a crate, taught him how to walk and tried so hard to get him used to people but for reasons I cannot explain he hated being around people. He was afraid of everybody. He still is to this day. I look at him puzzled at times wondering where I went wrong only to come to the conclusion that not all dogs are the same, some are going to test you. The only other person Jack likes, besides Jason, my husband, is my mother and it took her a year, and boy was she patient! I even took Jack to the shop I was working in at the time so he could get used to people. I took him to gatherings and nothing helped. I have concluded that Jack lives with a lot of fear. I do know that even though things are more challenging with Jack I love him dearly and I am thankful that he has taught me that love knows no bounds and not every dog is going to be the same. I am sure we have all had that one pet that just makes us shake our heads as we think about them. For me that is Jack, and like you and your pet, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
When I met Oliver and Julian I was covering the revamp of K’s Mutt Hut. I asked to see Oliver, who at the time was laying down on his bed. He had a huge doggy smile on his face. When Kathryn, the owner of the Mutt Hut, opened his cage I was shocked that he was, well, different. He had no front legs. None the less he hopped up and down excited to meet a new friend. She suggested we take “them” to the grass. I had no idea who the other one was. Once outside I saw Julian, who also did not have any front legs. I was nothing short of amazed. Both dogs moved about on their chests with happy faces. So many new people to meet! They didn’t care that they were different, they didn’t care about how hard little tasks were for them and they certainly didn’t look sad! As Oliver bumped his way to me with that doggy grin I felt like all my worries were pointless. Oliver and Julian were in the moment and it was a great one. To share that with them is definitely something I will not forget anytime soon. Life is great, so smile is what they both seemed to be telling me.
When people rattle off reasons why they love their bird, donkey or cat I am sure they sometimes forget to think of the lessons that each one has given them, because as animal people we take these lessons to heart. They become a part of who we are. Perhaps that is why when we meet another horse person or cat lady we can fall into instant understanding because we have all had THAT experience. That doesn’t mean that having a pet makes you an “animal person.” Not by a long shot. You have to earn that by watching your pet, listening to their lessons and actually growing from what they have passed on to you. So that you, in turn, can pass it on to others.
We hope this post will inspire you to share your Pet Appreciation this week! If you or anyone you know are in need of a new pet to fill your heart with love, please look at our adoptable cats, dogs, and horses/donkeys! They are sure to enhance your life!
TBAR is a 501(c)(3) non-profit no-kill animal rescue organization. If you would like to help animals such as this one please consider donating to TBAR, volunteering, fostering, or adopting. Donations go directly toward care, feed, and veterinary care of the rescued animals and every little bit helps us to help another animal in need of safety and rehabilitation. Save a life: adopt instead of shop and spay or neuter your pets!