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The Infinite Ways Pet Ownership Has Benefited Our Family

I frequently say that I have four children; two furry and two not.  The six of us, my husband, two dogs, and two children, have been a family for close to six years.  The human-animal bond we have has strengthened each of us as individuals and improved our lives as a whole in ways we could never have dreamed; for which we are eternally grateful.

When our older dog, Claude, experienced a near-paralyzing reaction to a vaccine earlier this year, my children made his care their priority.  When he wasn’t able to move, they brought food, water, and blankets to his bedside.  They read books next to him, and even spent afternoons laying on the floor with him when they could have been out playing.  They made months of trips to various vets and animal hospitals, as well as pet stores for medical supplies.  In addition, they comforted me when I could do nothing other than cry for his pain and for mine.  I never asked my children for their help.  They did it instinctively, leading from the heart.

His sudden illness made me realize the profound impermanence of our time together.  Immobilized by sadness, I started to look more deeply at the ways in which our dogs enhance our lives and worked to generate compassion for all we do to fill our days with our pets.  I looked back on all our dogs have given us over the years and started to cherish the smaller interactions of a stolen toy, a paw communicating desire, the way their fur leaves its mark on our clothes, a bark of happiness, the wet-nosed toothy-smile that forms when we meet.

When my son, Oliver, was six months old, I walked into his room and he was on his stomach rolling a tennis ball to Claude.  Claude took the ball in his mouth and then gently rolled it back to Oliver.  This repeated several times.  I never taught my son this game.  He picked up on my husband’s and my interactions with our dogs and mirrored them.  As soon as Oliver could walk, he wanted to walk our dogs.  He would offer them food, share his meal – even when he liked it – and bring our dogs toys.

My son and daughter have been exposed to our dogs since birth.  They, our dogs, were at each of their bedside when they came into the world and my children instantly learned that they were to be cared for, respected, and loved as we do for ourselves.  Our dogs instill in us the importance of discipline, unwavering loyalty, the beauty of non-verbal communication, and the bodily feeling of joy and wonder beyond belief.  They beckon us to look beyond ourselves, and, with a simple wag of a tail, remind that all of the hard work and care we give to them does not compare to what they give us each day.  I love and cherish you, Claude and Margaux!

This post accompanies a video that you can see here.

A word about our video: It’s a capture of my son, two dogs, and me doing not a lot.  And at the same time, because we are together, we are doing everything.  Also, when I watch this video, and the videos I’m in with my kids, I notice that my eyes are always looking off to the side.  This is because I’m watching the playback window to make sure I’m keeping whoever is talking in the frame.  However, when I see videos of other people doing the same thing, I frequently think they’re spending most of the video checking themselves out.  Perhaps this just my perception, perhaps it isn’t yours, or perhaps it’s true.  So I’m riding my judgmental mind and mentioning it, at the risk of drawing even more attention to that which may be just a thought.  Aaaand cut! 

The best part of blogging is meeting you! Connect and say hi; here in the comments section, on Facebook, on Twitter, or on my blog, KarmaMamma.

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