Being Present for Your Pets

sunshine-and-leafMore often than not, we receive stories from people who write about their pets after the beloved companion has died. Although these stories are wonderful tributes, we wonder if the person might have written while their pet was still alive.  Note: Leaf (dog), Sunshine (bird), and Speedy (cat) are featured in the images in the blog.

The process of writing causes the writer to become aware and observant. It brings the past and future together in the present. Although it has been cathartic for us, too, to write about pets who are no longer with us, there is something immensely satisfying when we take the time to be present to our pets right now.

speedy-1

In the present moment we can express our gratitude for the joy they are bringing to our lives. When Allen wrote his New York Times bestselling memoir A Dog Named Leaf, it was emotionally fulfilling to be able to take a walk with Leaf, photograph him playing at his favorite dog park, and tuning in to who he is to us today.

There is always a tinge of sadness in writing about animals, even while they are living. We know their life spans are shorter than ours. We know this immensely good thing will someday end. But writing and sharing
stories about them, while we can still pet and play together, replaces fears of loss with admiration and gratitude for the blessings.

sunshine-1Let’s see what new and inspiring stories bubble to the surface as a result of living in the present and rejoicing in the blessings of now.

 

“Anatole France said, ‘Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.’ We agree with that statement. And we heartily invite you to join us in exploring the world of Angel Animals.”

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CUDDLES LOVES HER NEW SCRATCHING POST

Every morning Cuddles wakes up and runs to her scratching post to stretch and scratch. Her claws are often sharp and in need of good vigorous scratching. This morning routine is her “me” time. She enjoys that the scratching post belongs to her alone. Never would her humans Linda and Allen, the bird Sunshine, or “that dog” as she refers to Leaf, scratch her post.

Cuddles

Cuddles

All has been good in Cuddles’s world except that the post was falling apart from her enthusiastic and forceful daily scratching. It was time for a new one. Her two humans went on a journey to the pet supply store and examined a dozen scratching posts.

Cuddles

Cuddles

We had lengthy discussions as we attempted to think how Cuddles would view the different styles of scratching posts. An impossible task. Who can figure out what a cat is thinking?

Cuddles

Cuddles

We finally decided on one that had the long length and the sturdiness we thought Cuddles would enjoy. She embraced her new post with vigor, gratitude, and love.

Cuddles

Cuddles

Visit http://www.angelanimals.net/nlimage127.html to see Cuddles with her new scratching post.

Did you ever try to find a cat who didn’t want to be found?

FINDING A CAT

Cuddles

Cuddles

Today, as we prepared to take our cocker spaniel Leaf to dog park, we searched the house for Cuddles. This little black-and-white tuxedo kitty has been our family member since 1993. We adopted her from our local animal shelter. Or rather, she adopted us.

A bin full of kittens at the shelter was too much for us. Linda reached her hand into the pile of wiggly fur creatures and said, “One of you is going to have to let us know you want to go home.”

Instantly little Cuddles sprang from the rear of the big cage. She jumped over the backs of other kittens and landed in the palm of Linda’s hand. Cuddles went home with us.

Cuddles

Cuddles

As if giving us a preview of her decision-making abilities, Cuddles decides if and when she wants to be found. Today, we looked in all the usual places -under the bed, in her favorite chairs, on top of the sofas, next to the upstairs heater, next to the basement heater, under the roundtable cover, under the chest of drawers, behind the living room curtain, etc., etc. All the time we called, “Cuddles. Kitty, Kitty, Kitty.”

We never did find her.

Finally we had to shut all the doors and hope she was somewhere upstairs where she could reach her water and kitty litter.

Why all the fuss?

Because high up on his perch in the living room, our cockatiel Sunshine was counting on us not to lock him in the living room with a cat. Although Cuddles doesn’t show much interest in our bird, we still wouldn’t want to take any chances of having natural instinct take over while we’re gone.

Cuddles

Cuddles

Fortunately when we came home, Cuddles emerged from her hiding place. We have no idea where it is. No doubt she’ll use it again. No doubt, we’ll spend precious time searching for her again.

What are your cat’s favorite hiding places?

MAKING SPECIAL TIME FOR YOUR PETS

Image

Feeding, cleaning, exercising, grooming, caring for, playing with pets can sometimes seem like a full-time job. Especially in multiple-pet families.

How do you find time for it all?

If you’re like us, you have to multitask, even with your pets. Exercising includes walking combined with playtime and throwing the ball for our cocker spaniel Leaf.

Annual vet appointments involve bringing both our cat Cuddles and Leaf to the veterinarian’s office at the same time. We found that sharing their distress with each other actually seems to help them cope better. Cuddles can scurry back into her carrying case and feel safe while Leaf is having his exam.

But one thing that each of our pets requires and deserves is at least a few minutes everyday of our undivided attention. Cuddles tends to like her quiet time while sitting on Linda’s lap in the morning. Linda has to work around the cat in order to write in her journal and do a contemplation. But the sound of Cuddles’s sweet purring adds a blissful dimension to the centered start of her day.

Leaf’s special time comes at night when we take turns rubbing his belly, while he sprawls out on the bed. First, he carefully paws Allen’s side of the bed as if preparing a nesting place. Then while Linda pats his head, he answers her question — How was your day? — with grunts, groans, and other vocalizations.

Leaf licks Allen’s cheeks for a while and then settles in the middle of the bed to sleep until Linda finishes reading and turns off the lights.

Cuddles curls up next to Linda’s side. The bird is covered in his cage, sleeping on his perch behind a spray of millet. And everyone drifts into sleep and dream.

How do you make special time for your pets?

Allen and Linda Anderson

Angel Animals Network – Where Pets Are Family

www.angelanimals.net

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AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

What does your choice of pets reveal about you?

With the start of 2010 we wanted to once again ask the basic question “What does your love of animals reveal about you?”

The following are a few highlights of a study done at the University of Oregon.

Question: Why would the University of Oregon College of Business Administration be profiling 667 pet owners?

Answer: People with pets are major players in the world of business. The pet supply industry is vitally interested in what will make you buy that designer dog dish or French day bed.

Oregon’s College of Business Administration graduate students, under the leadership of Lynn Kahle, head of the marketing department, tried to figure out what your choice of a pet says about you. With that essential information, marketers can appeal to your sensibilities and convince you that Precious really does need a plastic bowl with a lid that doubles as a Frisbee.

Here’s what they found with their questionnaire:

–Dog people tend to be more honest and forthright than most other people. They are loyal and religious;

–If you consider yourself to be a cat person, you probably are a bit of a loner yet have fairly high job satisfaction. You tend not to toe the line when it comes to the rules and rituals of an organized religion;

–People who are primarily attracted to fish as pets are more optimistic than most and not as materialistic or concerned about social status.

Kahle concludes, “A more thorough understanding of the motivations, values, and lifestyles of pet owners can help marketers design more effective advertising approaches, both for pet products and in advertisements for non-pet products.” (“We Lavish Love, Money on Our Pets Study Reveals Psyches of Animal Owners” by Ranny Green, Seattle Times, 1993)

So the gathering of this kind of data is how pet commercials are targeted directly at what excites and interests you — not your animal companion.

Well, we have a slightly different take on the subject. We think that not only do animals often reflect a person’s psyche, they also mirror their souls, or the amount of love in their hearts. It’s our opinion that a person who says, “I don’t like animals,” is experiencing a disconnect between the heart and the mind. Ask any animal lover and they will tell you: Animals are our hearts.

Have a little fun with two surveys we wrote that will help you gauge which type of pet most mirrors your personality.

Visit www.angelanimals.net/quiz.html for “Pet Personality Quiz”.

Visit www.beliefnet.com/Love-Family/Pets/index.aspx for “What’s Your Pet’s Personality?”

On another note, in consideration for animals who struggle to stay alive and be rescued in Haiti, remember the animal organizations that are going there to help.

To keep informed about the animal side of the situation, subscribe to the newsletter provided by www.kinshipcircle.org.

United Animal Nations and other animal welfare and rescue organizations are sending their rescue teams to Haiti. They have formed an umbrella organization called Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti (ARCH). To learn more about this and donate, go to www.uan.org/index.cfm?navid=670
Allen and Linda Anderson
Angel Animals Network
www.angelanimals.net

Note: To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week Newsletter, send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

THE CAT WHO TAUGHT ME TO LOVE AGAIN

divaimage1THE CAT WHO TAUGHT ME TO LOVE AGAIN
By Betty Seligman

I was in the bookstore with my son and grandchildren when I saw your book ANGEL CATS. Seeing the book reminded me of the first time I saw my cat Diva and how we made an immediate connection of love.

Diva is my miracle cat. Not only did she want to come home with me, love me, and enjoy my company, she encourages me daily to get up and continue living. Diva became part of my life as a direct result of an accumulation of life events, which I found myself trying to process.

My life had always been a series of wonderful experiences, but when my husband died in 1998, I found myself a newly independent person trying to understand how to live in a world without my companion. I quickly discovered that my roles of stay-at-home wife and mother as well as volunteer did not bring in a great deal of income.

Both my children were grown with families of their own. I had only to be concerned with providing for the family cat Kiki and myself. This was definitely something I had never experienced — I was in charge of making all the decisions.

At the age of 55, I went to work for a start-up company. After seven years I discovered life had once again changed. At the time of my departure from the company, I was a very sad, confused, and angry person. I knew my emotions needed to change, for they were not only affecting me but Kiki, as well.

The environment in our home was so sad; it could not have been healthy for either of us. I cried daily and had a good case of “poor me”. My true wake up call came when Kiki died at home in December 2006. Seattle was experiencing a very severe ice storm at that time, and most businesses were closed on the day Kiki died. I was unable to get to a vet so I spent the day with Kiki, watching as her spirit left her physical body.

The next few months my family tried to encourage me to get another pet. Those seeds were definitely planted, but I felt an overwhelming void and did not know if I had enough love to share with another being. Once I felt my sadness and anger subside, I discovered there was room for love to enter. Nine months after Kiki died, I went to our local pet store and thought I would just look at the cats.

I walked over to where a local cat rescue group had a variety of cats available for new families. There was Diva. She was six years old, a long hair cat, possibly a Maine Coon. We made eye contact. At that moment the adoption was complete, and my healing process began.

Everyday Diva is here is a blessing, and my ability to love becomes stronger. When she first came to live with me, I was very hesitant to love again for I felt in doing so I would somehow not be loyal to my previous cat Kiki or to my husband. I didn’t want anyone to take their places and reminded Diva of this daily for about 3 months. She would just look up at me.

Whenever I sat down, she would jump up on my lap and wait to be petted. Kiki had never been a cat who desired long periods of affection. I was amazed the first time Diva sat on my lap for about 3 hours. She would have stayed longer, but I felt the need to get up and move about.

Diva definitely has won me over. Now I have become in touch with a part of my spirit that has long been neglected. I am able to love again. The sadness that was so much a part of me has given way to joy and peace. She makes getting up each day an adventure that I thought was gone forever.

Visit www.angelanimals.net/nlimage12.html to view a picture of Diva.

BIO:
Betty Seligman lives in Seattle, Washington. She has been a stay-at-home wife, mother of two children, and volunteer.

SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:
When has an animal taught you to love again or to love more deeply?

First published in the Angel Animals Story of the Week on May 30, 2009.  All rights reserved.
Allen and Linda Anderson
ANGEL ANIMALS NETWORK
www.angelanimals.net

Note: To subscribe to the Angel Animals Story of the Week, send a blank message to AngelAnimals-on@mail-list.com

FedEx or FedCat – Animals as Messengers

Speedy and Cuddles

Speedy and Cuddles

As we work on this article, our cats, Speedy and Cuddles, are sprawled out in the office chair, patiently watching us work. Leaf, our intelligent black cocker spaniel, bats a bouncy ball around and looks over to see if we have it in us to play with him. Our cockatiel Sunshine perches in his large cage probably wondering how he’s survived one more year, living in a home with so many natural predators. It seems that each of the Andersons approach life in our own way.
    
If you live with an animal or animals, you’ve probably noticed what we have: Sometimes, when we’re too thickheaded to listen or learn any other way, God sends an animal messenger-an angel animal, as we call them-to help us figure out our next steps. So, as the typing on this article continues, Allen writes the following sentence: “When a human tells you that he or she loves you unconditionally, the very fact that it had to be said means the person knows nothing about unconditional love.”

Cuddles jumps up near the keyboard, presses the backstop, and erases this line. Allen realizes that what he’s wrote would have taken the piece in a whole different direction – maybe a little too harsh; maybe a little off the point.
    
Was Cuddles simply playing a role or is she a spiritual being, guided by Spirit to help us write a better article? One which doesn’t pass judgment on people or animals? Or is Cuddles’s erasure mere mischief and coincidence?
   
You decide.
    
We’ve had enough of these experiences to conclude that, if we’re open to receive, animals definitely deliver messages. We have no idea what they know or how they think. We just appreciate how the Divine uses them as vehicles for helping us in more ways than we can count.
    
Animals are spiritual messengers for people but they also assist each other. Amy Berk from Minnesota writes, “When Belle & Ruby were kittens, they’d snuggle up to me in bed on winter nights. I still kept several doors closed to keep them in a more confined area while they were getting used to the house. One night, as I lay in bed, Belle kept jumping off the bed and walking down the hall. Suddenly I heard this unearthly scream coming from the usually silent Belle. I jumped up to find her sitting in front of my closed office door. I swung the door open, and there sat Ruby, her golden eyes flashing in the light. I had unknowingly shut her in this room. I praised Belle for coming to her sister’s aid.

Why do you to have a pet?
    
We sometimes hear or read the argument that living with a pet isn’t a reasonable or logical lifestyle choice. The financial cost of vet bills and food, the additional cleaning that is necessary, and other responsibilities seem prohibitive to some. And why would people willingly put themselves through emotional loss, when they know that someday a beloved animal will leave or die? Many who have never lived with animals question the motivation (and sanity) of those who share their homes and lives with pets.
    
For those who haven’t experienced the human-animal spiritual connection, sincere animal lovers seem to lack common sense. Pet lovers are accused of having emotional weakness and immaturity springing from their lack of “real” human contact and companionship. They must be severely bored to need animals as their source of amusement.
    
When Allen types this line at his computer, Speedy looks at the screen as if to ask, “Do you think that’s true? Do I amuse you?” Allen strokes his hand down the cat’s back and replies, “Yes, you do, but that’s not the only reason we love you.”
    
Speedy seems to know exactly what to do when we need encouragement. His special way to offer comfort is to touch his paw ever so gently on the shoulder of the one who needs a little extra T.L.C. His eyes peer straight into that person’s heart and without one word spoken say, “You are loved.” 
    
Do you notice when an animal gives you a gentle touch and wide-eyed, innocent look of unconditional love? If you ignore these signals that love is all around, may we suggest you become more observant and grateful? You’ll be glad you did.
    
Andrea Vivian wrote to us about an animal whose gentle touch and compassion helped her cope with pain and loss. She writes, “My husband and I adopted Inky from the Humane Society in 1990. When our last dog, Cocoa, passed away, we went back to SPCA to look for another dog. On that Sunday morning, the workers opened Inky’s cage, and he immediately jumped into my husband’s lap and started kissing and licking him. 
    
“All that I now have left of their wonderful relationship is memories. You see, my husband, Joe, passed away. Since then, Inky and I are inseparable. He has been my shadow, as if he’s protecting me from the outside world. 
    
“Inky is over twelve years old. He has a cataract and is going deaf. But he still seems happy and alert. He adores me, and I adore him. This little guy is so special. I can’t even put into words what he means to me. When I’d be up crying all night, missing my husband, Inky would climb in my lap and kiss away the tears. His unconditional love is unbelievable.”
    
Can you make a decision to develop a keener sense of spiritual communication with people and animals? Could you resolve to accept more love into your life when you hear the song of a bird, the bark of a dog, or the sweet meow of a cat?