A while back, I heard a story on the radio about the amount of money pet owners spend to keep their loving companions healthy and happy. Apparently we hand over billions of dollars every year to pet stores, veterinarians and groomers. Some of us buy high-end grain-free food for our animals while others purchase the pet store brand that costs a lot less. Some pet owners take their pups to the groomer every month in order to maintain just the right breed look. Others bathe their dogs at home or outside using the garden hose. Some of us ask veterinarians to do the impossible when our kitty’s kidney disease is in it’s last stages…”save Mrs. Cat no matter the cost.” And others of us feel guilty and sad when we realize we just don’t have the money anymore to keep the cancer treatments going. So, we stop and our beloved pet dies. In the end, the money we’ve spent for the care and well-being of our pet amounts to a small fortune. Our bank accounts and credit cards tell the tale of dedicated pet ownership.
Why do we do it? Why do we purchase a new sweater for Fido when we can’t find a way to justify replacing our own worn out 15 year old winter coat? Why do we make sure our dog’s food bin is always full when our own pantry cupboards are bare? And why do we hesitate to visit our own doctor’s office when we’re sick when we don’t bat an eyelash at paying our veterinarian to treat Bingo’s kidney stones and chronic bladder infections? I don’t have the answers to all of these questions. But I think I have a vague idea about our motivations and actions when it comes to taking care of our pets. Read on.
Every day we hear about terrible things happening in the world and in our communities. We are surrounded by many forms of media that help us to be informed. Unfortunately this media also saturates us with all sorts of stories and events that crowd our brain cells and overwhelm our spirits. What do with do with all of this information? How can we possibly deal with so much pain and suffering and anger and resentment in the world? Sometimes I feel very helpless and cynical. I just want to scream at someone to stop the madness. At the end of the day, I find that my soul and spirit are flummoxed and I’m at a loss for which way to turn. Then, ever so slowly, I feel something rise from the depth of my being that suddenly and ever so quietly starts to speak to me. I don’t want to listen at first. I’m too caught up in my cynicism. But then the voice gets louder and more persistent. It’s telling me to listen to the goodness and love around me. It asking me to become a part of the present moment and pay attention to what’s in front of me.
To my amazement, the advice I get from this little voice is almost magical. By listening to it’s message and taking the advice to heart, I find that my soul and spirit are restored and I’m once again able to live my life on a day to day basis without letting it overwhelm me. You’re probably curious as to what this little voice means when it tells me to listen and why it has such a profound effect on me.
The moment I get out of bed in the morning, I’m surrounded by my pets who love me and look to me for food, warmth and affection. I cannot sit down in a chair without having a kitty in my lap and/or a dog’s nose pushing a toy toward me for a game of fetch. When I get up to walk to the kitchen to make supper, I am followed by a parade of animals all waiting for me to dish up the food they’ve been so patiently waiting for. There is a measure of satisfaction that fills my heart when the pet meals are over and the kitties are grooming themselves with full bellies and the dogs are headed to their beds to snuggle in and let the food settle. I am their caretaker, their pet mom, their contact in the human world. They look at me with eyes filled with love and loyalty. They rely on me to take care of them and keep them safe and healthy. They are the source of the little voice that I’ve been encouraged to listen to when I feel the world is falling apart. They keep me centered and optimistic and focused on what’s important in my life. And they do all of this without even knowing it or expecting anything in return.
I think this is the reason we’re so intensely motivated to care for our pets. They help to keep as grounded and sane in a world in which much of what’s happening is beyond our control and is moving at the speed of light. Some days the news we hear is extremely sad and overwhelming and is occurring on the other side of the world. While it’s important for us to pay attention and remain updated on the day’s events, we all need to take a step back from time to time. Who better to help us take this step then the fuzzy critters at our feet.
I’ve learned to listen to the little voice that rises so gently from my soul when I’m feeling sad and anxious about the news of the day. It always brings me back to the present and the love and happiness I feel for life. Thank you dear critters for helping me to understand what’s important in this world and for making room in my life for a little magic.
Blessings to you and your furry critters.