The best thing about a man is his dog.
Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened.
What dogs? These are my children, little people with fur who make my heart open a little wider.
A pet is never truly forgotten until it is no longer remembered.
Our animals shepherd us through certain eras of our lives. When we are ready to turn the corner and make it on our own, they let us go.
Loss takes many forms. We can lose our human and pet loved ones through death, but we can also lose our homes, jobs, careers, possessions, dreams and hopes. Everything in this world can be taken at any given moment from such unpredictable and natural events such as fire, wind or water. What was once solid under our feet can be washed away in an instant, both physically and metaphorically.
So what can we hang onto? We can hang onto that which is truly lasting. And that is the love of the heart. Love is not dependent upon anything in the physical world. We know that is true because we continue to love those who are no longer in this world and now adorn another. We continue to love that which is created by the heart, for the heart is the only true substance. Everything else is temporary. But love is not. And this is the greatest gift our animals teach us. They love us unconditionally, non-stop, without regard to anything we do or say, regardless of our position in life, our bank account, our possessions, our neighborhood or the value of our things. They show love to us continually in the same way whether we are in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer, truly, until death do us part. They love without seeking anything and they bring joy without reservation. They are not critical, they do not judge and they do not turn away from us no matter what our mood or problem. They are loyal and true until the end.Anyone who has had a deep connection with a pet knows that this is true.
No matter what trials we face , we can learn from our pets this ability to live in love, express love and remain in love throughout our day. We can hang onto this beautiful lesson, which even ripens into richer fruit after our beloved pet has passed away. As time passes, the memories become more precious and the pictures more sweet, and we begin to understand the great blessing that they gave us with their life. We begin to more deeply depend on that which is truly real and does not die - Love. We begin to understand that this is what we seek in the false hopes and promises of material things. We would give anything we own - any of it and all of it - to have those loved ones with us in the physical world again. We have no possession that has the value of the love we have experienced.
But it does not die. Live in that love. Carry the love that your pet gave you into your day and spread it to others with your smile, your compassion, your understanding and your strength. Become the living love that your pet expressed to you. That is what it is for. It is to continue on. That is your pet's gift to you and that does not die. We can lose everything and everyone in our lives. We cannot lose the love. That remains alive and vital. So don't put it away and feel you have to "get on with your life" in the way people suggest. That way is not of the heart. Get on with your life in honor of the love you have been given. Remember it, call it up, use it, become inspired by it, share it, and your grief will turn into active, living loving energy that will enhance your days.
When you live in love, you will love to live. This is the lesson from our sweet and dear pets, who with great innocence remind us that love is all there really is.
Blessings from your pets in Heaven and Reverend Sandra Shaw
Reverend Sandra Shaw, O.S.F.
CHAPLAIN OF THE PETS
Tending to the Healing of the Grieving Heart
Through Compassion, Empathy, Comfort and Grace
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