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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.