Life Lessons We Learn From Pets

My friends tell me they want to come back as one of my animals in their next lifetime.   They know I have a huge heart for animals and the amount of love I give and get from my pets is a big part of my life.

Buddy the cat was only two at the time he moved in with us, and Catman was 12.  Both cats are sleek oriental short hair Siamese although Buddy was bred as an exotic, with a long, Egyptian stylized body, gray striped coat, brown feet and nose, and tall and wide airplane ears.


Four years ago, John and I were vacationing in Spain when we received the email from my family asking us what we wanted to do with my youngest brother’s two cats.    Byron’s apartment was cordoned off with yellow police tape and off limits to everyone.   Only my niece Tara and her husband were allowed in with police escort to get the cats. Tara boarded them with a vet until we flew back from Spain to pick them up.

Not only were we devastated by Byron’s homicide case, but we now had the task of bringing his two cats into our home with our two dogs — Dodger, a yellow lab, and Pearl, a Bichon Frise.  Byron had asked me 12 years ago if I would take his cats should anything happen to him.  I said yes.

Buddy was the wildest cat I’ve ever met.  He stalked Pearl and swatted her out of his kitchen.  We couldn’t sit down at the dining room table without having him sail onto the table and grab our food.  Once I watched as Buddy leap off the floor to grab food right out of John’s hand as he was about to put in it his mouth.  Buddy learned to drag large pizza boxes off the counter, and knock over the dog’s cookie jar to help the dogs help themselves.

John was patient with the situation but one night about three months into it, asked if it would become a marital issue if he did not want to keep the cats.   All I could answer was the truth, “I can’t answer that question right now.”

I said in the beginning of our journey with the cats that in one year Buddy would become a wonderful member of our family.  Buddy slowly allowed us in and accepted our love.

At the end of that first year, I said. “Give me one more year, and he will be a remarkable cat.”  At the two-year mark, Buddy had learned that getting love and attention from us was so much better then walking on our kitchen counters and jumping on our dining room table.

Although people say you can’t train a cat, I told my friends I was the pack leader of our animals and he was in the pack.  I was on a love mission and in the end we all won.  He won over John’s heart, and he won a place in the family with all of our animals.

Our housekeepers affectionately called the cats – Jerry Lewis and Sidney Poitier.   Buddy charmed every person who came into our home. He was a character.  He would open any door in our house so nothing in our home became off  limits.  He would let Catman out anytime I put them in a room together.  Each of our vets and their technicians feel in love with Buddy.   The vet techs would cheer when I brought the cats in for check ups.

I am a life coach and my local clients come into my home for coaching.  I noticed that Buddy would come in and sit with a client who was distraught.  It was only when someone needed to be comforted or were in emotional pain that Buddy would come in and sit on their lap.  He was like a sponge and was so sensitive to feelings.

In the four years that Buddy and Catman have lived with us, they have helped me heal from the tragedy of my brother’s murder.   Both cats learned to trust and love us and they learned that we love them deeply.

I think that there are huge numbers of people out there who also experience special relationships with their pets.  This year annual spending on pets is expected to hit $52 billion according to Packaged Facts, a consumer research company based in Rockville, Md.

Eckhart Tolle believes we are experiencing a much closer connection with our pets because we live in a fear-based society. We (humans) are afraid to show our authentic selves to others for fear of rejection.   Tolle says animals help us focus on the present moment and show us what we have lost.

I believe the more technologically advanced our society becomes, the more alienated we are from nature, animals, each other and our souls.  I see a huge trend in people wanting a connection to the land, animals, each other and to reconnect to their soul.

Our pets give us the opportunity to open our hearts with unconditional love.  They don’t judge us, and our love is always reciprocated.

John says he learned acceptance from Buddy. I called Buddy my love bug. When I think of Buddy I will always remember how hilariously funny he was, his charisma in charming every person who ever walked into our home, his keen intelligence, his insatiable curiosity and most of all his nose kisses.  He would reach his head out to touch nose to nose with me many times each day.   I will miss those nose kisses.

Last week I read that earlier this month, Martha Beck lost her famous and beloved beagle Cookie and Christine Kane lost her beloved Atticus the cat.  Both posts are enjoyable reads on the love of a pet.

Eckhart Tolle’s new book, Guardians of Our Beings is expected to be available in October 2009.


Have You Found Your Tribe?

Research shows bonding with your friends helps you live a long and healthy life

How to find your Tribe:
  1. Nourish and nurture friendships and spend time-sharing what’s happening in your life. Even though we lead busy lives, friendships and meaningful connection are important no matter what your age.
  2. Know your passions and make it a priority to get involved in groups or activities you love whether it’s a book club, your church or spiritual group, or a hiking club.
  3. Do the things that resonate with your deepest inner values and live your truth and be your most authentic self every step of the way.
  1. To read more of Dan Buettner’s research on Blue Zones.
  2. Check out the Blue Zones on Oprah’s site.
  3. Read more about Tribes by Seth Godin and see how you can become a tribe leader.