Over the past few years, I’ve learned so much from taking care of animals. I’ve learned the importance of wearing great shoes, what the essentials for any great walk are (water, treats, and a great attitude!), and to always be aware of what’s going on around me.
But one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is to be present and patient with myself and with the world around me. It can be easy to get caught up staring at my phone or marathoning something on Netlfix while also missing what’s happening around me. But with animals, you have to be incredibly patient and aware of what’s going on around you, especially with any rescue.
Tommy the cat taught me this more than any other animal. He was a shy cat and often skittish around people. He lived in his current home for most of his life but before he got there, he had a bit of a rough start and was likely abused in some way. And even with all the love in the world and the passage of time, he still never quite got over that. It took years of just patience and love for Tommy to really trust me. I still remember the first time that he came up to me outside, looking for some attention and love. That was a big breakthrough and it was really because of Tommy that I learned that fact that trust and respect are earned over time.
He spent a lot of time outside but during the last couple years of his life, he did enjoy spending some time inside. The downside was that he was easy to miss if you weren’t paying attention and there were many times in which he would get spooked by something while trying to get inside. It took a lot of patience and understanding to help him. But it was worth it if taking a few extra minutes meant he felt safer.
With animals, you may have your own timeline and goals but as I’ve learned time and time again, animals have their own ideas. I’ve learned more than once that individual animals will have their own habits and quirks and it’s almost always better to work with their behaviors instead of against them (unless their behavior is destructive in some way…). It’s always better to be patient, kind, and loving with animals, even if you’re on a tight schedule.
I’ve also learned to get out of my own head and away from my phone to just look at the world around me. This comes in part because dogs often like to eat things that they might find on walks and it’s always best to make sure they’re not eating something gross. But this also comes from just realizing that there’s so much in the world around us, especially while on walks with a dog. Sometimes you can see a heron or an eagle fly overhead or see some turtles sunbath on a log in a lake.
Milo and Rooster have both taught me to be more present more than any other animal. They’re both just so in the moment, especially on walks. Milo just enjoys life one moment at a time and is usually just happy with the simple things in life. Rooster has taught me to be patient, to be loving and friendly, and to be forgiving.
Animals can have an incredible impact on the people around them; that’s something I’ve experienced firsthand over the years. They’re often kind, loving, understanding, and often just want to be your friend. Over the past few months, I’ve had to say goodbye to too many animals that I help care for and each time I’ve said goodbye (whether its that final goodbye or a temporary ‘so long for now’), I’ve realized just how much I’ve learned from them.
All of this is to say that I’m always thankful for the animals I care for and the lessons they’ve unwittingly bestowed upon me. I’m a more patient, loving person because of them and I’ll always be grateful for the animals that have been in my life.