The Blessings of Animals
I could start this Lesson by asking how many of you are or have been pet owners, but it would probably be easier to ask, who isn’t or hasn’t been a pet owner?
There are approximately 86.4 million pet cats in the United States, approximately 78.2 million pet dogs in the United States, and 5.3 million house rabbits.
And surprisingly, in 2013, pets outnumbered children four to one in the United States!
That IS surprising, in a way, but then I think of the fact that families are ‘down-sizing’ meaning many are choosing to have fewer children, yet it’s very easy to have multiple pets, from dogs and cats to fish and gerbils, and all other varieties of animals.
And some of us choose to not have children at all, opting for the furry kind instead.
Why are our pets so important to our us? We gain much from our relationships with our animal brothers and sisters.
“The loving, innocent world of animals serves as a good example for me. The more you stop to observe animals and learn from them, the healthier and more peaceful your life will be.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer
I’m sure you can speak personally of the benefits of the animals in our lives. From
greater self-esteem, being less lonely and less fearful than people without pets.
Pets provide their owners with physical and emotional benefits. Walking a dog can supply both the human and pet with exercise, fresh air, and social interaction.
Pets can give companionship. They bring us closer to our Creator. The biblical story of the flood illustrates God’s love for animals. And Jesus emphasized God’s love for every member of creation when He said: “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight” (Lk. 12:6).
BTW – The metaphysical interpretation of that verse is ’when we use all that is available to us, the 5 elements (earth, air, fire. Water & the ether) when creating with our thoughts, we create positive abundance.’
If you are interested in metaphysically interpreting messages, verses, etc. talk with me later. Or come to the Basics class on Saturday!
“Animals are closer to God than humans. They are closer to the source. The humans are more lost in the mind forms.” Echart Tolle
Our dogs have had to adapt to living with humans over the past 10,000 years, and they have done it very well—they are the only animal to have evolved specifically to be our companions and friends. Anthropologist Brian Hare has developed the “Domestication Hypothesis” to explain how dogs morphed from their grey wolf ancestors into the socially-skilled animals with whom we now interact in very much the same way that we relate to other people.
In fact, our relationships with dogs can be even more satisfying than our human relationships, if for no other reason than dogs provide us with such unconditional, uncritical positive feedback.
Interacting with dogs makes us feel good, and just looking at them can make us smile. Dog owners score higher on measures of well-being and, on average, they are happier than people who own cats and those who own no pets at all.
And dogs seem to feel the same way about us. They have been selectively bred through generations to pay attention to us, and MRI scans show that dog brains respond to praise from their owners just as strongly as they do to food—for some dogs, praise is an even more effective incentive than food.
If the idea of cuddling with a pet to help ward off allergies seems a little backwards to you, the following may come as a surprise: University of Wisconsin-Madison pediatrician James E. Gern has conducted a number of studies that demonstrate having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. In fact, his research — as published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology — shows that children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.
I am sure you know about the studies in prisons showing a decrease violence and destructive behavior among psychopaths when they work with animals. And we know the introduction of dogs in the prison systems have shown increased benefits to prisoner’s rehabilitation.
As the old saying goes, “May I become the kind of person that my dog thinks I already am.”
Dogs recognize people from their facesand can learn to infer human emotional states from facial expression alone. Studies also indicate that dogs can understand human intentions, that they try to be helpful to us, and that they will even avoid people who do not cooperate with us or treat us well.
Dogs communicate with us as no other animal does. They are skilled at comprehending spoken words and using their own vocalizations to communicate with us in return.
Our strong attachment to dogs was subtly revealed in a recent study of “misnaming.” This is what happens when you call someone by the wrong name, such as when parents mistakenly call one of their kids by a sibling’s name. It turns out that the name of the family dog frequently gets confused in the same mix as other human family members, indicating that the dog’s name is being pulled out of the same cognitive pool in which the names of other family members are swimming around. Curiously, this rarely happens with cat names.
This shows us ever more how important our animals are…that they really are a part of our families.
So, losing a pet can be devastating to us.
Psychologist Julie Axelrod pointed out that the loss of a dog is so painful because we are not losing just one thing; we experience multiple losses at the same time. We may be losing our primary companion, a source of unconditional love, a “life witness” who provides security and comfort to us, or as my friend said when her little 18 year old Yorkie passed, “She was the longest relationship I had.”
The loss of a dog seriously disrupts our daily routine, even more profoundly than the loss of most friends and relatives, and changes in lifestyle and routine are one of the primary building blocks of stress.
Unfortunately, there’s little in our cultural playbook—no grief rituals, no obituary in the local newspaper, no religious service—to help us get through the loss of a pet, which can make us feel more than a bit embarrassed to show too much public grief over our dead dogs.
Maybe that’s something we as a Community should look into…
A Pet’s Prayer: “Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in the entire world is more grateful for your kindness than mine. Don’t be angry with me for long, and don’t strike me, chain me or lock me up as punishment. After all, you have your job, your friends and your entertainment. I only have you.”
If you can start the day without caffeine,
If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food everyday with excitement and gratitude,
If you can greet your loved ones with a huge kiss no matter how long they’ve left you alone,
If you can ignore a friend’s limitations and never correct him,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help, relax without liquor, and sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion or politics,
And if you can welcome each day as if it is your first,
Then, my friend, you are almost as good as my dog!
A hard example to follow…
“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.” — John Muir
I realize much of this mentioned dogs but I know that those of you who hold the love of other animals in your heart feel the same
Let’s hear some stories from some of you…
And now, let’s Bless them…look at your pet if they are here with you, touch them or look at the picture you are holding, envision them in your mind and heart. Our loved ones may be physically away from us, but they are forever in our heart. So, when we remember them in our prayers, we envision their inner light of God shining through.
Remember, when we grieve for them, it is the love we are feeling coming through.
And if your pet is with you, envision love and light surrounding them and radiating through them.
We are reminded that all creatures are loved by our God.
So, take a moment to remember the love you have received or are receiving from your pet. Let them know that you understand they are part of the Creator’s world and are Blessed and loved very much by Spirit just as you love them.
So, thank them for their love and faithfulness toward you and for Blessing your life and home. Promise to protect them from harm and illness. And to love them throughout your life.