Pets Make the Best Teachers

It’s difficult to imagine the person I’d be had I not grown up with pets. Since I was born, I’ve had an animal by my side, teaching me valuable lessons, whether I was aware of it or not. Now that I’m an adult, I can fully appreciate all that my pets teach me, and how much better I understand life through them.

From my sweet one-eyed Iris, I learned to be brave. Coming from a bad home where she was neglected and malnourished, Iris hid under the bed for the first week after I brought her home. Many exhausting failed attempts at earning her trust finally paid off when she realized I wasn’t out to get her and I received my first head butt. From Iris, I learned that your past shouldn’t define your future, and to let people in even when you’ve been burned by others. She taught me that sometimes being brave isn’t valiantly conquering your fears, but quietly telling yourself you’ll try again tomorrow.Lessons from pets

Kiggy, the kindhearted little tortie that turned me into a “cat person,” taught me gentleness and to not sweat the little things. With her laidback nature and high tolerance for pestering, Kiggy has always been an easy target for her sisters, who constantly steal the best sunbathing spots, push and shove to get their food first, and relentlessly poke at her when they’re in the mood to play. When little things start piling up and I feel like I’ve had enough, I think of Kiggy’s gentle disposition and remember that there are better things to worry about, and not to be so quick with my temper.

Lesons from petsBeing different is cool, as I’ve learned from my eight-legged bundle of joy, Puddles. Spiders aren’t a crowd favorite, but keeping my little arachnid only reminded me that standing out isn’t a bad thing. Besides that, he also teaches me and those around him that you really can’t judge a book by its cover— that sometimes those who seem the most menacing or intimidating are actually the most harmless and calm. From Puddles I’ve learned things aren’t as scary as they seem, and to approach life with an open mind.

Lessons from petsI learned to chase adventure from my daring Fern. Bunnies are easily startled and aren’t known as thrill seekers, so Fern’s bold spirit and desire to explore was unexpected, but is now an everyday thing as we kayak, swim, and take walks together. Growing up with cats and dogs, she’s also never let another species intimidate her, no matter how much bigger or louder than her they might have been. She teaches me to be daring despite my fears and that regardless of your size, you’re the only one who can tell you what you can and can’t do.

Lessons from petsLastly, from my stubborn girl Comet, I learned patience. So much patience. Comet has always operated on her own agenda, which coincides with most beagles’ inflexible nature. When she wants a taste of whatever you’re eating, she’ll bark until she gets her way, and when she’s having a good time outside, don’t bet on bringing her in until she’s ready. Now that she’s thirteen, I’m trying to soak in as many of her stubborn moments while I still can. It can be exhausting fighting the losing battle of trying to reason with a beagle, but it’s hard to look at her droopy little eyes and not cave in. Comet has taught me that everything isn’t so urgent and we can do that extra lap around the park before we leave.

From all pets, we can learn how to love unconditionally, how to respond to the needs of someone who can’t speak, how to handle loss when they leave us, and how to heal. These are lessons no textbook could ever teach, and only those lucky enough to have their lives touched by pets will understand. Because the truth is, while we spend countless hours trying to teach our dogs to roll over or our cats not to scratch the furniture, it is our pets who that teach us what life is all about.

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