Animal Relationship Experts
By Allen and Linda Anderson
Year after year, we receive hundreds of stories in which people say they have experienced richer, fuller, more compassionate, and loving relationships due to the bond they feel with a beloved pet. We’ve concluded that experiencing the unconditional love of a pet helps people become better human beings.
Part of deepening relationships is to come to the aid of a friend who is in trouble. The true test comes if it must withstand or crumble when times are tough. A fifth grader in a middle school, where we spoke about our Angel Animals book series, demonstrated the truth of this important lesson.
At the school presentation we had invited the children to share animal stories. It was so much fun to watch their faces light up as they told about special pets. They also asked good writing questions such as, “What is your favorite genre?”
One little girl came up to the front of the room to tell a story that illustrated what she had learned about relationships by observing the family’s pet fish. The fishes’ caretaker had made a mistake by placing a predatory fish in the tank. The big fish had eaten all but a few of the smaller fish by the time the humans had discovered the tragedy.
This fifth grader had watched in awe as one of the medium-sized fish nudged the tiniest fish to the bottom of the tank where he hid him behind a clump of algae. Then the protector fish used his body as a shield to keep the big fish from finding the littler one.
We noticed that in the theatre-style hall where we were speaking, the one-hundred middle-grade students had become very quiet. The girl’s experience with her fish had struck a chord. Many of them liked the idea of being protected or serving as the protector for those who are smaller or weaker. The relationships of the girl’s fish swimming in a tank and looking out for one another had helped bring a message to the children about bravery and loyalty.
Animal Relationship Reminders
People work hard and often forget that they need to take time for rest and recreation. Does a dog, cat, bird, ferret, rabbit, hamster, or reptile animal companion tell you when it is time to stop working and play? That’s how it works in our home.
Our black-and-white kitty Cuddles has become timekeeper for our breaks, sleep, and food. Cuddles is fine with the hours we spend working as long as we stay in balance. Often, she supports us keeping her tail from waving and blocking the monitor when she’s sitting on top of it. We love how she quietly moves into a Buddha-like pose while staring at the computer. Who knows what she’s contemplating?
But when it gets late and we’re overdoing, Cuddles begins her task of ending the workday. She looks at us as if to say, “Okay, enough!” Then she plops down on and covers the one paper we need in order to continue our writing tasks. She makes sure we can’t see the monitor through her waving tale. She won’t move away and shows a rock-solid determination. Cuddles keeps her eyes steadily on us until we say, “You’re right. Time to rest.”
Sometimes we hear from people who wonder if there’s something wrong with them because they have never had a close relationship with an animal. Often, this is due to some fearful experience that has caused them to be anxious or avoid contact with animals.
Of course, we tell them that it is common sense to be cautious around animals who don’t know you. But also we encourage them to find safe environments where they can get to know an animal who has a mellow nature and is under control by a responsible person.
The following story comes from Connie in Singapore. Her relationship mender turned out to be a dog. Because of her deeply-rooted fear, Connie had never allowed herself to enjoy the unconditional love a dog could give. It took getting to know Angus to help her grow more comfortable being around dogs.
By nature, I am absolutely scared of dogs. This situation improved after I had a vision appear before me to indicate that during one lifetime, I had been a trapper who was trapped by a wolf. As the trapper in that lifetime, I had accidentally kicked off the wolf’s cage hook, and he attacked and devoured me. Dogs are in the family line of wolves, so this memory explained my fear of dogs.
Once, when I visited London, I was invited to stay at a friend’s home in Richmond, which was accessible by the underground train from the city. My friend lived with her youngest daughter and a pet dog, Angus Scott, in the three-story building. My friend knew about my fear of dogs and warned that I would have to learn to cope with it if I were to stay with her.
Since staying with my friend would save me a lot of money on hotels, which are pretty expensive in London because of the difference in currencies between there and my home in Singapore, I knew I would have to try to overcome my fears.
My friend’s daughter, Vivian, picked up my husband, Cher Min, and me from the airport. We arrived at their home, and Angus started jumping and barking like crazy. I spoke to the dog mentally and said, “I am scared of dogs. Just do not climb all over me.” During the entire week of my stay, Angus did not once jump on me but he did climb on Cher Min all the time.
Angus was so smart. He understood my fear and tried hard to make friends with me. And he succeeded! He always looked at me lovingly, but I dared not respond for fear he might interpret my acceptance as an invitation for him to jump on me.
One evening Cher Min and I returned home after a day out. Angus ran to get my bedroom slippers, which I always wear at home. He held the pair of slippers in his mouth and looked at Cher Min and me for a few seconds. He was confused. There was only one pair of slippers but two of us. He then dropped one slipper in front of Cher Min and the other in front of me.
From that point on, Angus took his toys and placed them in front of me. This was his signal that he wanted me to play with him. So I threw his toy ball for him to pick up. Then he’d put the toys in front of me again, and I would repeat the play.
I bought something for him to munch on one day, and he looked at me with loving eyes. Yet he still kept to his promise not to crawl all over me. But finally I became brave enough to stroke him, and he loved it. He still took great care not to snuggle against me, though. He really could read my mind.
Angus has shown me that dogs are really smart creatures. Though I do not have experiences yet with cats and other animals, I am sure they all have the same ability to understand and love human beings. It is good to be able to communicate with animals. You can tell them all your problems, share joys and sorrows, and they will not betray you but only give you plenty of divine love.
What are animals trying to teach you about relationships?