Over the past week I have found myself really marveling at the complexity and beauty of the human animal bond. Unfortunately, some of this was brought about by having to say goodbye to some of my oldest, most beloved patients, and watching some of my dearest clients grieve their loss. In getting to know my clients, I have the privilege of being invited into their lives. I get to know their families-both two-legged and four-legged, I learn some of their favorite hobbies, and get to hear about their happiest, and sometimes saddest times. But one thing that continues to strike me time and again, is the very central role our pets play in our daily lives.
All too often we hear about people who rescue animals in need. I think we overlook how often animals rescue people in need. I’m not talking about those stories we hear on the news about hero military dogs, or cats who step on the phone and dial 911 when their caretaker is in danger–we all know those animals are amazing and deserving of praise. What I am always humbled by are the patients I see every day, they are heroes to their companions. I see dogs who were adopted after a divorce or a death in the family, they save their humans from loneliness and sometimes depression. They fill a void and provide companionship when it is needed most. I see cats and dogs who sit bedside with ailing companions, ever the faithful companion. They provide constant company and a watchful eye. I have patients who visit the sick and elderly in hospitals and nursing homes, and patients who visit children in local schools, and hospitals. There are no words for what these guys provide-perhaps the only visitors these folks might have. They arrive, they wag their tails, give some kisses, or sometimes just sit and listen and somehow understand exactly what is needed. Let us not forget about the dogs who arrive to their companions, leash in mouth, demanding a walk. They rescue us day and in and day out from laziness, encouraging us to get out, breathe some fresh air, hike a new trail and enjoy our world with a friend. Often, I see new pets come in after the client lost a past pet, there is new life in these peoples’ eyes, and the empty spot left by an old pet begins to be filled by their newest companions, Often, these are the very people who promise me they will never have another pet because they think they will never possibly heal, but their new dog or cat becomes a powerful source of healing. I see kittens making little children squeal and giggle, puppies who teach us patience and humor, and elderly animals who teach us what it means to grow old gracefully.
I, for one, know Whitney came into my life to make me laugh at LEAST once a day, every day. Laughter is the greatest gift she has ever given me, and she rescues me every day for the doldrums of life. I dedicate this post to anyone who, like me, has ever been rescued by an animal. We owe them so much, and are so lucky to share our world with them. Have any of you guys ever been rescued by a pet, and if so, we would love to hear your story!