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What Pets Can Truly Teach Us Humans

What Pets Can Truly Teach Us Humans

pets can teach us

    Having been a dog owner since 1979, I can claim with absolute confidence that pets have an uncanny ability to teach us humans certain things better than any person can. If you are willing to allow pets to become part of your personal development team, here are some of the things that they can teach you.

    True Unconditional Love

    Dogs are especially good at teaching us what unconditional love is. They love you no matter how much money you make, what kind of car you drive (or lack of one), how bad your hair is and what kind of day you’re having. When you come home, they are always glad to see you. They are always going to be with you no matter how rough life gets (in contrast to many humans unfortunately).

    This is true unconditional love.

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    Even if you accidentally hurt them during a grooming or nail clipping section, they always forgive you. All they ask for in return is food, shelter and attention. Dogs in particular, give you tons of love back and personally, I think us humans get a pretty darn good deal out of this arrangement.

    Teaching Us Responsibility

    Pets in general are great teachers of responsibility, especially for children. When a new pet arrives at home, very soon the kids will learn that there is a huge responsibility in pet ownership. That cute puppy or kitten is not like a stuffed toy that can be left alone when you are finished with it. Instead, it makes noise, it pees, poos and barfs. It also rips things up and requires a lot of consistent training.

    Failing to realize this responsibility has unfortunately resulted in many unwanted dogs and cats left abandoned at the animal shelters. This is a real tragedy. I personally think that all prospective pet owners should be educated on pet ownership before taking in a live pet.

    The successful households with pets who do learn a lot about how to properly care for them will be immensely rewarded. The kids who actively help in the care of pets will likely grow up to be responsible adults too.

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    The Tough Lesson Of Compassion

    Interestingly enough, we also learn about compassion through our pets but unfortunately, it is always a very difficult lesson as it is taught near the end of our beloved friends’ lives. I learned this lesson especially hard with my first dog Pepper.

    Pepper’s health was plunging pretty fast in his 15th year due to Cushing’s Syndrome. A specialist vet recommended against surgery because of Pepper’s age. Pepper soon became quite uncomfortable as he started to yelp on a frequent basis. I didn’t know what to do as I was confronted by this situation for the first time in my life. I was also too hesitant to put him to sleep as I thought that his discomfort would just be temporary.

    In fact, my own reaction was so bad that I actually got mad at him for being so noisy. Then one morning when I got up, my other dog Max was waiting for me at my bedroom door. This was quite unusual as my two dogs were usually together somewhere. I found Pepper in another part of my home as he had passed away during the night.

    Then I realized that my hesitation and delay in putting him to sleep, caused my precious friend unnecessary suffering. In fact, this is one of the very few regrets that I actually have in my life. I should have taken the right action as soon as Pepper was hurting.

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    This tough lesson of compassion enabled me never to make such a big mistake again. When it was time for Max to go, I listened to my vet. When he told me that Max was suffering, I didn’t hesitate this time. I did however, request that I be there.

    During the euthanasia procedure, I held Max so that I was the last thing he saw, smelled, heard and felt. I wanted him to know that somebody who loves him was there to say goodbye rather than to leave him alone with strangers in a cold, clinical animal hospital setting.

    This time, although extremely painful, I knew that I did the right thing out of compassion, thanks to the lesson Pepper taught me.

      Henry Peter Smith (Chris's puppy)

      Precious Lessons Our Pets Teach Us

      So you see, unconditional love, responsibility and compassion are very precious lessons that pets can teach us. As an author, I dedicated my books to Pepper and Max for being the greatest teachers I’ve ever had. And now I carry the lessons they taught me over to my current dogs, Chester and Roxie, a high maintenance brother-sister team (but extremely rewarding).

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      I really believe that pet ownership can play a big part in our personal development. As long as we do the right thing by getting properly educated about the realities of caring for them, pets can be among the greatest teachers in your life.

      I would love to get your thoughts on your own experiences with pets and how they have taught you as well. Please comment below.

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      Last Updated on January 2, 2020

      How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

      How to Break Out of Your Comfort Zone

      Over time, we all gather a set of constricting habits around us—ones that trap us in a zone of supposed comfort, well below what our potential would allow us to attain. Pretty soon, such habits slip below the level of our consciousness, but they still determine what we think that we can and cannot do—and what we cannot even bring ourselves to try. As long as you let these habits rule you, you’ll be stuck in a rut.

      Like the tiny, soft bodied creatures that build coral reefs, habits start off small and flexible, and end up by building massive barriers of rock all around your mind. Inside the reefs, the water feels quiet and friendly. Outside, you think it’s going to be rough and stormy. There may be sharks. But if you’re to develop in any direction from where you are today, you must go outside that reef of habits that marks the boundaries of your comfort zone. There’s no other way. There’s even nothing specially wrong with those habits as such. They probably worked for you in the past.

      But now, it’s time to step over them and go into the wider world of your unused potential. Your fears don’t know what’s going to be out there, so they invent monsters and scary beasts to keep you inside.

      Nobody’s born with an instruction manual for life. Despite all the helpful advice from parents, teachers and elders, each of us must make our own way in the world, doing the best we can and quite often getting things wrong.

      Messing up a few times isn’t that big a deal. But if you get scared and try to avoid all mistakes by sticking with just a few “tried and true” behaviors, you’ll miss out on most opportunities as well.

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      Lots of people who suffer from boredom at work are doing it to themselves. They’re bored and frustrated because that’s what their choices have caused them to be. They’re stuck in ruts they’ve dug for themselves while trying to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. People who never make mistakes never make anything else either.

      It’s time to pin down the habits that have become unconscious and are running your life for you, and get rid of them. Here’s how to do it:

      1. Understand the Truth about Your Habits

      They always represent past successes. You have formed habitual, automatic behaviors because you once dealt with something successfully, tried the same response next time, and found it worked again. That’s how habits grow and why they feel so useful.

      To get away from what’s causing your unhappiness and workplace blues, you must give up on many of your most fondly held (and formerly successful) habits. and try new ways of thinking and acting. There truly isn’t any alternative. Those habits are going to block you from finding new and creative ideas. No new ideas, no learning. No learning, no access to successful change.

      2. Do Something—Almost Anything—Differently and See What Happens

      Even the most successful habits eventually lose their usefulness as events change the world and fresh responses are called for. Yet we cling on to them long after their benefit has gone.

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      Past strategies are bound to fail sometime. Letting them become automatic habits that take the controls is a sure road to self-inflicted harm.

      3. Take Some Time out and Have a Detailed Look at Yourself—With No Holds Barred

      Discovering your unconscious habits can be tough. For a start, they’re unconscious, right? Then they fight back.

      Ask anyone who has ever given up smoking if habits are tough to break. You’ve got used to them—and they’re at least as addictive as nicotine or crack cocaine.

      4. Be Who You Are

      It’s easy to assume that you always have to fit in to get on in the world; that you must conform to be liked and respected by others or face exclusion. Because most people want to please, they try to become what they believe others expect, even if it means forcing themselves to be the kind of person they aren’t, deep down.

      You need to start by putting yourself first. You’re unique. We’re all unique, so saying this doesn’t suggest that you’re better than others or deserve more than they do.

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      You need to put yourself first because no one else has as much interest in your life as you do; and because if you don’t, no one else will. Putting others second means giving them their due respect, not ignoring them totally.

      Keeping up a self-image can be a burden. Hanging on to an inflated, unrealistic one is a curse. Give yourself a break.

      5. Slow Down and Let Go

      Most of us want to think of ourselves as good, kind, intelligent and caring people. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it isn’t.

      Reality is complex. We can’t function at all without constant input and support from other people.

      Everything we have, everything we’ve learned, came to us through someone else’s hands. At our best, we pass on this borrowed existence to others, enhanced by our contribution. At our worst, we waste and squander it.

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      So recognize that you’re a rich mixture of thoughts and feelings that come and go, some useful, some not. There’s no need to keep up a façade; no need to pretend; no need to fear of what you know to be true.

      When you face your own truth, you’ll find it’s an enormous relief. If you’re maybe not as wonderful as you’d like to be, you aren’t nearly as bad as you fear either.

      The truth really does set you free; free to work on being better and to forgive yourself for being human; free to express your gratitude to others and recognize what you owe them; free to acknowledge your feelings without letting them dominate your life. Above all, you’ll be free to understand the truth of living: that much of what happens to you is no more than chance. It can’t be avoided and is not your fault. There’s no point in beating yourself up about it.

      Final Thoughts

      What is holding you in situations and actions that no longer work for you often isn’t inertia or procrastination. It’s the power of habitual ways of seeing the world and thinking about events. Until you can let go of those old, worn-out habits, they’ll continue to hold you prisoner.

      To stay in your comfort zone through mere habit, or—worse still—to stay there because of irrational fears of what may lie outside, will condemn you to a life of frustration and regret.

      If you can accept the truth about the world and yourself, change whatever is holding you back, and get on with a fresh view on life, you’ll find that single action lets you open the door of your self-imposed prison and walk free. There’s a marvelous world out there. You’ll see, if you try it!

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      Featured photo credit: teigan rodger via unsplash.com

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