Almost every morning I awaken to the sound of purring in my ear and the feel of several small warm bodies cuddling up next to me. With my eyes still closed, I think a heartfelt “Thank you” to whatever Powers That Be. I cannot even imagine living without animals to love.
I tried it once. When I left my ex, he kept the animals. I had my new apartment all to myself. It was wonderful! No animals to clean up after, no one to feed and water, no fur on my clothes, no cat toys or dog chews littering the floors.
I lasted almost 3 weeks.
(If you want to read the story of how I began acquiring my new family, read the March posting, 2011 of this blog.) Franklin was the first. He still has a special hold on my heart. As I type this, he is peacefully snoring on my quilt. I never knew that cats snored, until Franklin. My other cats and dogs each have their own personalities, likes and dislikes. We each have our quirks, but we tend to all get along pretty well.
Although I love telling stories about my animals, what I am thinking of just now is what they give us.
Like most (if not all) humans, I need Love in my life. I need to have someone other than myself to think about, to care about. My definition of Hell is when you have all these gifts, all this love to give – and no one wants it. That is one reason why human beings are social animals. We need someone to give to. And that is a Good Thing. Love is not something to be restricted to just our own species. With animals, caring is very pure: they do not care if you have money or status. They judge solely on how we treat them, personally.
This is very liberating – and somewhat disconcerting. If I were to win an Oscar, for instance, my dog would not care, my cat would not be impressed. But if I were to sit down and just pay attention to them, to play or pet or just talk, they would be delighted.
For critters, everything is personal. Humans try to distance themselves and pretend that certain things don’t matter or don’t pertain to them. The famous gangster-movie phrase “It’s just business” has no meaning to any animal – nor should it. Only very foolish humans will accept that excuse, because it is all personal. Life is personal. Animals know this and we can learn from them.
Someone once asked me “How do you know when an animal loves you? How do you know if it’s just that they want to treat you well so that you will continue to feed them?” I would ask the same thing of myself. Did I love my parents just because they fed me and kept me safe? Certainly that had something to do with it, but I would hope there was more to it than just that.
What I notice is that my animals trust me. And trust is a very good place to start when you are thinking about love.
All this and so much more the animals have taught me. I wonder, what have the animals taught you?