Lessons Learned

One thing that people know about me is that I am crazy about my dog, Louis. He often comes to work with me. He goes on errands, and though he likes car rides, he’s not too sure about the car wash. He has more dog toys than he knows what to do with and he has me trained to give him treats (if you know me, you know how painfully true this is). He loves to go on walks, which is good for both of us. Truth be told, I have been a dog person much of my adult life, and Louis is part of a long line of corgis that I have had the privilege to love and care for.    

I’ve learned a lot from my pets, dogs, and cats. They have been wonderful companions. They have taught me about life and what it means to love. It is such a good feeling when you come home, especially if you have had a difficult day, and you are greeted by a pet who is so excited and happy to see you (and yes, contrary to their reputation, even cats do this). If we greeted other people with the same joy and enthusiasm how different our world might be.

Dogs like to play fetch or tug of war or keep away. Is there a better feeling than being snuggled up with a cat or dog on your lap and why is it that big dogs think they are lap dogs?  I’ve learned that it is important to play and equally important to nap.

When one of my dogs ate my paycheck once (that’s a story for another day) I was reminded to take better care of things that are important to me.  

I have cared for pets who have been sick, and I have done the heartbreaking work of being with them at the time of their deaths. It is hard but essential to be present with people we love when they are sick and dying, for it is but sacred time. 

St. Francis of Assisi, who valued not only human life but the life of all creatures, is said to have preached to the birds. Many congregations have a Blessing of the Pets service near Oct. 4, the day of his birth, to give thanks to God for our animal companions. You may have heard the song “All God’s Critters Have a Place in the Choir” that speaks of how everyone belongs. Yes, our animal companions play such a big role in our lives and they help us to love bigger and better. 

On my refrigerator, there is a magnet that says, “Lord, help me be the person my dog thinks I am.”  Maybe that is a good prayer for us all, “Lord, help us be the persons our pets think we are.”