Pets are endearing. It took me a long time to realize just how much. They simply love. It took me a long time to see that as well, to internalize it and make it a part of my general outlook on life. Let me see there was Snow, my dog, then Ruffles, Feather, Spot, Charlie, Brindle, Blackie and Pepper, all cats, and now also Samantha. my second dog.

One of the saddest things I’ve had to do was to let them go one-by-one until only Brindle, Pepper and Samantha now remain. Somewhere along the line my pets became “people” to me, friends, companions, with their own personalities, quirks, good and bad days and their need for love and attention to be reciprocated.

And I’ve come to the place where it’s okay for them to occupy the whole house as their home. We share it together. I’ve moved from not knowing how to care for a pet to inviting them into my heart and life as beings unique in themselves. And they’ve taught me so much during these past sixty years that as I reflect on it I am amazed and blessed by their having been in my life. My hope is that I have been as much a blessing to them as they have been to me.

What did they teach me? Apart from the usual…love, patience, contentment, playfulness, enjoyment…I learned that I am not all that much different from them. One of the most valuable lessons was when Feather aged…she was twenty-one when she passed away…she would sometimes lose her ability to remember where to do her business. And I would become annoyed. I didn’t understand at the time that when one ages memory and bodily functions often don’t perform like they did in younger years. Now that I am older I completely understand. And, as a consequence, I pay closer attention to my “pets” and their life cycles because in so many ways they mimic what I will face or am already facing.

It is remarkable that God gives us lessons from all walks of life, including our pets, to help us grow in our spiritual lives. I am a more fulfilled person, I believe, in large part due to those “companions” He brought my way. I’d have missed so much joy and love by their absence. He simply opened my eyes to see His presence in them.