Pet Lessons

Is it really possible that Spring has sprung in Michigan finally?

This past winter really felt endless—more so than others for some reason. And yet, thanks to a new furbaby we acquired in October, I have spent at least an hour (sometimes two) outdoors every day.

I joke that Kermit and I are even more reliable than the US Postal Service, whose unofficial creed—adapted from a poem and carved into the post office across from New York’s Penn Station—is, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Yup, that describes me and Kermit the Dog: rainstorms, ice storms, snowstorms—we still managed to average five miles a day in the neighborhood during the weekdays and in one of our many area metroparks on most weekends.

Probably the most unromantic (and yet most appreciated) Christmas gift I got from my husband this year was a pair of Yaktrax—rubber and metal contraptions that fit over your shoes and make walking on ice possible.

Now that spring is here (I think? You never really know here until about mid-June!), Kermit wants to spend even more time outdoors, so my laptop moves between my home office and my patio since he’s a digger and not to be trusted outside alone.

Kermit came into our lives just as our cat, Kloe, was getting ready to leave it—as I like to say, there are no coincidences in the Universe, only miracles if you can perceive them. We had promised the kids a dog when we moved to Michigan, but we never fell in love with the ones we saw at the local Humane Society that summer.

Instead, Miss Kloe claimed us and lived out her adult life as queen of our household. We weepily said farewell to her in March, when she just stopped eating.

Watching her in the final days of her life was a lesson in paying attention to our intuition. Two nights in a row before she quit eating, she jumped on the bed, settled on my chest (something she did mostly in her younger years) and rubbed her nose on mine—something she’d never done before.

“She just knew,” we marveled in retrospect. And she went with a quiet grace, turning inward, seeking out hiding places where she wouldn’t be disturbed.

It’s amazing how such a little creature can leave such a huge hole in our lives.

I still miss her, especially during the early morning hours when we had time together on the yoga mat, and she would wind around me, really testing my powers of concentration and balance. To Kloe, Savasana was the time to burrow her head into my upturned palm begging for attention (and breakfast, finally, please, lady)!

It’s very clichéd, I know, to talk about what we learn from our pets, and yet most clichés exist for a reason, don’t they?

From Kloe the Cat, I learned:

  • How a single beam of sunshine is cause for celebration—and reason enough to move somewhere else to stretch out.
  • How to listen to that still, small voice.
  • How to live life firmly believing that you deserve the best care, whether it’s lavished on you by yourself or by others.

From Kermit the Dog, I have learned:

  • Being outside in every kind of weather is really, really good for you (especially for your immune system).
  • There is joy in every little thing, from bugs to dirty socks—and anything is a potential toy.
  • Sometimes, you just gotta bite (or chew) something to feel better!

Time with pets can be a truly nourishing primary food—they have a lot to teach us about unconditional love (for ourselves and for others), never judge us, and rarely ask us for anything other than our attention.

So much wisdom in our furbabies…. Drop a comment and let me know what you’ve learned from your pets!

PS Thanks to Kari Paine for Miss Kloe’s final portrait!

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