Our first baby stood about two and a half feet tall. She was covered in thick black fur and she had doting brown eyes that begged for nothing in the world other than to be loved. She was a rescue pup and we adopted her just a day or two after the rescue center had her spayed. My wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, and I gave her water and food and we sat on the kitchen floor of our tiny one bedroom apartment, patiently waiting for her to acclimate to her new home. She drank the water and then cautiously wandered over to me, skittish from a life of neglect and abuse. She laid her head in my lap and I could feel her whole body relax, as if she felt safe for the first time in her life. I told her I loved her. Then she barfed all over me.
Bella is still with us. She’s about eleven now and she is still the kindest and most gentle soul I have ever met. Sara came next, also a rescue. She’s eight and ever the free spirit who is destined to wander if given the chance. Wesley is the baby, he’s 2; full blood German Shepherd. He’s too smart for his own good, gentle, clumsy and protective.
Tonight the family and I went to the movies and watched The Secret lives of Pets 2. Spoiler alert, it’s hilarious and you should definitely go see it. But it made me nostalgic for the role that our own pet’s have played in the development of our family.
Bella was our first step towards becoming a family. We chose her as if to test the waters of our ability to love and care for another. But what I think we don’t fully appreciate, is what she taught us about the value of loving and caring.
To love another above yourself is, in my humble opinion, the only viable path to true happiness and fulfillment. We often take this first step with a pet. It’s easy to think that we are rescuing the animal but consider for a moment what they are giving to us. It’s an accessible first step towards braving the waters of parenthood, with all it’s responsibilities and messes. They prepare us for what it will take as well as what we will gain.
The only shame is that so many people take this sacred bond for granted.
If you are reading this and you too have a fur baby, please take a moment to appreciate how they have enriched your life. Take them for a run, buy them some meat snacks. From now on I’m going to focus on paying extra attention to my fur babies. We owe them a great debt for it was them who rescued us.