I’ve been going through all my articles, trying to organize them into categories for possible books on specific topics. Some topics are easy – customer service is one of the things I have the most experience with, therefore it’s something I write about frequently. Some topics logically lend themselves to being grouped, like aging and health. But one group might give people pause – “Children and Pets”.
I used to joke with parents that we had pets rather than kids because, “the neighbors get upset if you put your kids on a leash or leave them outside all day.” Of course, I was joking! Our pets have all been Very pampered. No doghouse in the yard for them! They have all had warm, comfortable beds and plenty of toys. Our current pet, a feisty chihuahua named Jack, has at least four (yes, Four!) beds, and several boxes of assorted toys. As a veterinarian once said, “why have pets if you aren’t going to spoil them.”
It’s also a well-known fact that many people consider pets family. Thus the term, “fur-baby”. And certainly our pets have been loved and cared for with the same devotion people give to their 2-legged kin. But that isn’t the main reason why I group children and pets under one category.
For me, the best teachers in my life have been children and pets. Both have taught me to look at life – and life’s challenges – with fresh eyes. Both have helped me recapture some of the innocence and wonder that came so naturally to me as a child. Both have made me smile and cry in new and profound ways.
You don’t have to be a parent to benefit from the wisdom of children. For me, the lessons came from other people’s children that I interacted with through jobs like Sunday school teacher, Daycare worker, and Kindergarten aide. Those experiences served to provide me with a multitude of memories and life-lessons that I still treasure to this day.
Pets, I think, are different. You can’t truly understand the love and warmth of a dog or cat unless it is your own. In my life I have loved so many animals. They live within my heart still, along with all the emotions and lessons they gifted to me.
I once wrote a poem that began with the lines:
If old dogs and children consent to lie down
And spend just a moment of time,
You let them.
The love and wonder of both children and pets is a tender, fleeting miracle. As I wrote in another poem:
May you treasure each miracle placed in your path,
No matter how brief or how small
And may you always be aware
And thankful for them all