Animals in Our Lives, and We in Theirs

This is as Magic a Relationship as Can Be – If You Have One, Revel In It

Christmas Came a Bit Early in Our Home This Year

The picture you see at the opening of this posting is of Bonnie, the newest member of our family. Bonnie is an 8-year-old border collie who was in need of a new home just about the time we were looking to adopt. The universe lined up, and here we are together. Nice.

Friends who read this blog will know that we lost our beloved Lizzy the Lab a year and a half ago. She is and always will be irreplaceable. We have, of course, lost animals before (we don’t use the term petaround here – sounds too trifling a term for so important a presence).

We are, by nature, slow to heal such losses and get to a more balanced place of mourning. This time it took over a year and a half before we could even think about adding to our family once again. But, in due course, we shared with each other how empty the house and life felt without an animal presence embedded in it. And so, Bonnie has joined us, to our great joy.

What Is it About Animals?

Much has been observed and written about this subject. We know conclusively that when people rub the fur of an animal, their health indicators improve measurably, right then and there. Long term the effects are equally clear. The effect of therapy dogs (training we hope to have Bonnie complete soon) is also well known and palpable.

We all reach for the visiting dog or cat in the home we visit. And who doesn’t feel especially honored when a dog enters a room full of people and goes directly to you first?

For years, some scientists and scholars thought animals did not really have a range of emotions and reasoning anything like ours. Anyone who had lived near almost any species knew that was poppycock. Slowly, we are coming to learn now that their range of emotion, thought, and memory retention is substantial across very many species.

We have long felt this way about dogs and cats, and whales or dolphins. Now we are learning all this is true about crows, octopi, and many other species. It is far more universal than many of us ever imagined, and so too is our ability to communicate interspecies.

Ask anyone who raises dairy cows or tends to animals in wildlife preserves. Look at those videos of elephants enjoying piano music. Observe pack behavior among wolves or a troop of gorillas.

We sentient creatures like, and fear, many of the same things, whether we be two-legged or four-legged, covered in skin, fur, or feathers. I cannot help but feel that a child not raised in the close and sustained presence of animals is denied something vital.

Some years ago, almost on a lark, I set up a good-sized  home aquarium. I set it up in my office, right next to my desk, so I was present with the inhabitants a lot.

Imagine my surprise as I slowly learned the fish had individual personalities. I left that experience wondering how many other creatures I had failed to note properly. Turns out, quite a lot. But no more. I get it now.

Fortunately, It Is Not a One-Way Relationship

Animals in our company seem to enjoy the relationship as much as do we. In their case, there is also an impressive level of trust, that we will not harm them and will care for them as needed.

That some of us cruelly do not drives me insane like nothing else. I have always felt those caught in animal cruelty should be subjected to the same torture they inflicted on other creatures. Don’t know that I could ever work for a rescue agency; I have little confidence I could restrain myself in the presence of such unworthy people.

All in all, with the relationship is one of mutual respect and affection, it seems like a win-win. I have been closer than anyone should be to wild elephants, big cats, rhinos, and other such critters. Here, too, I sensed a level of consciousness that called for respect and careful outreach.

These days, I am quite content to have most of my animal contact with my dog, the occasional bear or deer up here in the mountains notwithstanding. We consider ourselves lucky beyond measure to have such a balance in our home.

If you feel the same, I hope you too are fortunate enough to enjoy this special form of companionship. If that is not the case now, but has been in the past, may you enjoy those precious memories. And think about doing it again. I can recommend those fish….

Count yourself fortunate to live on a planet with such life, such beauty, such power.
Enjoy the short video.

        Bill Clontz

If you find this blog worthy of your time and curiosity, I invite you to do two things:

(1) Join the conversation. Your voice counts here. If you wish to share COMMENTS anonymously, make the last word in your comment “PRIVATE.” I will assure your privacy via anonymity.

(2) Share the word about this post with friends and colleagues. Share a link in your emails and social media posts ( Let’s grow our circle.


4 replies to Animals in Our Lives, and We in Theirs

  1. We were talking this morning about you and Meg having Bonnie now. We are so excited for you and we (and Charlie) can’t wait to meet her. Great blog and I am wiping away a tear, after looking at the video a second time.
    Thank you.

  2. My thoughts exactly! Thank you for expressing this so well and for the beautiful video.

    • Glad you enjoyed it. Great minds do think alike!

Your Turn to Comment