Lessons learned from our furry friends

Pets have such a meaningful place in our lives. They give us the gift of their presence, their purpose, their affection, and their loyalty, day in and day out. Animals and pets are our companions, our best friends, our loyal supporters, and often our caretakers. We invite you to share the ways in which your pets/animals have touched your life.

  • What have your pets taught you?
  • How have your pets enriched your life?
  • How have your pets given you comfort or solace during the coronavirus, lockdown, BLM and financial crises?
  • Was there a time when your pets gave you an understanding or in-sight you hadn't had before?
  • Have your pets caused you to rethink aspects of your life? If so how?
  • If you could say anything to a pet you no longer have, what would it be?

Through sharing our experiences with our pets, we deepen and enrich our lives, and we give voice to the incredible gift of human-animal bond.

Share Your Story

See below for submissions

Animal Stories

iMessage to Muffin

At age 10, I adopted a frisky little calico kitten who loved running up the rungs of our dining room chairs until she got too heavy to do so anymore. She was kind, patient and very docile for the most part. I wish I could say that I gave her care she deserved but I was still quite immature. If I could send her a message, I would ask for her forgiveness for the times that I fed her condensed milk and gave her gas, picked her up when she wanted to be left alone, ignored her when she wanted something (unfortunately I didn’t speak cat so I couldn’t have understood her exact needs anyway), and left her at home when I moved out for the first time. I hope she had a peaceful death, but I will never know. Thank you, Muffin, for your patience, for listening, and your unconditional love.

— Lisa  


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Ode to Nightshade, My Cat

Long after you are gone,
I will still feel you in the morning
walking on my body,
pawing my face.

Long after you are gone,
I will sweep up a hair—
remains of lost love,
maybe even find a whisker.

Long after you are gone,
every pair of dark shoes
seen from the corner of my eye
will catch me off-guard
with a glimpse of you.

Oh, how I dreamt
if a cat came to my door
I would keep her.
Then you, abandoned in the field,
were brought to me by my neighbor.

All of seven weeks old,
you sat in the palm of my hand,
then on my modem,
then on my printer,
and every warm place you could find.

Playful, endearing,
your long brown hair and yellow eyes
rendered you beautiful.
Your skittish nature
kept you from others.
You were mine, all mine to enjoy,
and I did completely.

Now, I watch every breath,
every precious moment—
waiting for my heart to be torn
from my body,
reliving 18 years of joy.

Oh, my little girl, I bid you sweet farewell
as I brace myself for that last gasp of air,
the breaking of earthly bonds
that animals bring to the human soul,
the love that cannot be expressed,
only known.


— Sherrie Lovler  


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My Primary Relationship
Meet the President!
Dafka and a view of the Golden Gate Bridge
Dafka loves his dog walker!
Dafka is taking time out from playing soccer!

Dafka makes me laugh and is so comforting in this time of isolation. Please see my web site for his story.

— Zora L. Kolkey  


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My Cat Escher

When the world around and within me trembles, I bury my face in my cat’s bunny-soft orange and white fur and feel the everlasting goodness of God.


— Lee Ann Haney  

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Daniel Boone

After 20 years my beloved daughter moved away with our German Shepherd, Buddha who we raised together. The loss was huge. I found Boone, a rescue on a website... Romanian Shepherd. We are inseparable

— Ingrid Middleton  

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Falling in Love with George
Screen Shot 2020-11-01 at 10.44.21 PM

My son lost his fiancée tragically 3 years ago, and since then their little dog George has been his only solace. I am a dog lover but have found George nothing but annoying. My son left George with me in February when he left for Greece to help bring a boat back to the US. COVID hit, and since March he has been stuck by himself in Gibraltar and George has been stuck with me.

Suddenly, I am deeply connected to this wonderful little guy because it means a lot to my son to know that George is still loved and cared for. Somehow, I have found an abundance of love for him, and my memories of this pandemic will include doing my work from home with this warm and wonderful ball of fluff on my lap.

— Leslie Hoyt  

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Living In Present Time

— Carmita  


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Pets, and animals in general, have taught me many lessons over the years, but I'd say the overarching lesson they've taught me is Simplicity. They inspire me to get out of my head and all the stories up there about the past, the future, what I think people think, etc., and instead to come back to, and appreciate, the present moment. Animals can be put at ease, or even become elated, over the simplest things: a pat on the head, a good meal, a sunbeam. They carry such little emotional baggage, and so resiliently let it go with the simplest of support to do so (I think of the work of Cesar Millan /The Dog Whisperer, who demonstrates this over and over, even with dogs who'd come from very traumatic backgrounds).

I also think of one of my all-time favorite books, Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. In Vonnegut's usual searing yet humorous style, he shows how much we can learn from the simplicity of our “less-evolved” animal relatives.

“The Peace of Wild Things,” the poem by Wendell Berry, also comes to mind.

So on that note, I'm off to grab a people-treat then curl up on the couch and practice some peaceful mindfulness (mindlessness?) meditation with my canine gurus.



— Laura L  

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Always and Forever

At 19 years old, I fell in love with a little chestnut Saddlebred gelding and became the proud mama of my first horse. What I didn't know then was that he would become my very best friend and teacher for the next 30 years.

We were a team from the start. He helped me to become more self confident. I helped him become more brave on the trails. He was there for me through all of life's successes and trials. I was there for him when his left eye had to be removed and again for a strangulation colic surgery. We grew up together. In breathing in his sweet breath and stroking his velvet muzzle, I knew no matter what, I would be okay. We had each other. So many adventures and quiet moments from horse shows to bareback rides under a full moon. He taught my spirit to fly.

So when his almost 34 year old body was tired and could no longer fight, he was laid to rest with me by his side in a grassy field under a sunny December sky. He lives on as a part of who I am, for I would not be this person without him. He was everything good.

I have rescued two young saddlebreds recently. They are their own spirits. And I love them deeply. I know he is proud that I am taking all that he taught me and helping other horses that need someone to love them too. Someone to believe in them. Thank you Compi. You made my heart bigger and fuller than I ever thought it could be. Because yours was the biggest. I love you always and forever. Until we ride again amongst the clouds old man. 💞

— Red River  

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Oreo Gooddog, MA
Mr. Gooddog is a therapist trainee he possess remarkable empathy and innate intelligence

— N., MFT  

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Two Hearts

I told him to come to the barn. I didn't want him to feel mine was an exclusive world, although it had been for so many years.

Today was a day not unusual to me, although to him it was entirely novel. After 3100 miles, he would step off the trailer.

We had not met him, only seen one photo. But he already had a name. Stepping off the long carpeted ramp, Salut spotted my husband, Andrei. The handler handed him to me, but he had yet to see me.

Compelled by his eyes, Andrei greeted him. Salut followed him into the paddock, springing around on the fresh grass, just off Andrei's shoulder.

And there he stayed, leaning onto him for support when I first sat on his back, looking for him when he stepped out of the ring after his first show, and when he was in the throes of stomach ulcers, in pain and scared.

He became Andrei's training partner, jogging with him up the hills in the park, drinking beer with him after, and laying in the grass, together.

And he also helped Andrei understand me, understand this connection into the spiritual world of horses. It had been my respite and now it was his.

Then before we could blink, Salut was gone. Like an angel that graces this earth but doesn't stay. Gone much too fast.

They say the best ones can't stay. They always leave too soon because you spend years in their glow, captivated. And can you never truly capture their significance, until it is gone.

But their spirit lives on in you, moving through you in ways you cannot anticipate.

— Claire Nana  

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My 3 Cat Girls

I used to be a dog-only person. But my daughters started bringing home stray cats and after a short time I was hooked ... on cats.

Cats are wonderful little creatures. They've got the requiste cuteness and fuzziness, they're soft to the touch (even if they do tend to run from you, unlike dogs), and my 3 at least always show up for food. In fact, everytime I walk into my kitchen my kitties think it's chow time. All they have to do is look into my eyes and they know they're living with a sucker because I always cave in and throw them a treat.

Even though they can be finicky, they're good at unconditional love. My two younger ones always show up in my bed at night, although my older one has stopped because she's not good at sharing me with the babies. Yes, they have real personalities.

When I fall ill, my cats are there when I wake from a fever-induced sleep. In fact, I once had a fairly long illness and was in bed for weeks. My cats were there to sit guard. They did not budge from my side. They were loyal and faithful.

Sometimes people are like cats, and sometimes they're not. In that sense, I feel that I can always rely on my 3 cat girls for support, and petting their warm furry bodies makes me feel good. Sometimes they kiss me with their tiny mouths. Or perhaps they're just searching for more food. Hmmmm.

Although I need human companionship, my 3 cat girls come in as a close second. I don't know what I would do without them.


— Dr. Donna Poppendieck  


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