Animal relationships with humans are often trivialized by non-pet owners who don’t understand the connection. How many times have I heard that animals don’t have feelings? So not true. I have seen my dog smile, cry, demonstrate hurt feelings and even provide comfort and sympathy when I am upset.
Pets provide unusual, unconditional love. They give us feedback that lets us know they love us when they purr or wag tails. They are always happy to see us, are non-judgmental, forgiving and pure while meeting our need for affection and attention. Providing loyalty, companionship, security and comfort comes easily to them. No complications. No drama. And playtime is always a joy, whether we are observing or interacting with them.
We communicate with our furry friends and they with us. We read each other’s body language such as when a dog is hungry or needs to go out. They might whine or bark. They might lead us to the door or to their water or food bowl. Living with a pet can provide an important antidote to isolation or loneliness. Who greets us joyfully at the door regardless if we are gone 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days or 5 months?
Humans have an intimate physical connection with pets. We make sure they eat and go out. We groom them, look in their ears, check their teeth, have them vaccinated and sometimes travel with them. We pet, hug and kiss them as they lay beside us. Some of us sleep in the same bed with them. Some people actually spend more time with their pets than with other humans.
Some of us treat our pets as our furry children. That can be weird or endearing. Or both. The absence of a pet creates a disruption in our daily routine. Letting them go is a huge, difficult decision when we are called upon to take that final step as the humane solution to a painful situation.
Sometimes losing a pet can be even more intense than losing a person. We all experience loss in our own ways and in our own time. There are two types of grieving styles. Instrumental grievers get busy, take action, take on projects. While hurting on the inside, they choose not to show it on the outside. Expressive grievers cry, emote, express their loss verbally and can lose motivation. We all hurt; it’s just expressed differently. We all go through a grieving process. It’s normal and to be expected. Be gentle with yourself and don’t worry if others don’t understand.
Some people wait to get another pet. Others do it right away. I lost my best girl, Jerzey, many years ago and have never stopped thinking about her. It’s time to bring animal joy back into my personal space. Jerzey chose me. She entered my apartment, peed on the floor and refused to leave with her breeder who said Jerzey and I had an unusual connection, as in a previous life. Who knows? All I know is I was in love, even when she insisted on stopping in the middle of Broadway in NYC to poop. Or when she peed on the way to the elevator on the 46th floor of my apartment building. Or when she refused to be crated and insisted on being next to me.
Our bond was strong. She was a character with a distinct personality all her own. She taught me so much about love and responsibility. For me a house is not a home without a dog. So it’s rescue time, 2020. I’ll be rescuing my new pup and she will rescue me. Stay tuned….I’ll post pictures when we find each other. Can’t wait!
Miriam Seiden is a cultural explorer who loves to write about her living bridges around the world.