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Casper Critters

The Loyalty of Pets

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03/01/2012 - By Gayle Irwin

Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions,

they pass no criticisms. ~George Eliot

I have been a pet owner since childhood. Both cats and dogs have graced my life and my home. As a child growing up on an Iowa farm, I spent endless hours outdoors, taking care of the animals and walking the woods surrounding our place. Most times, either a dog or cat accompanied me. Those memories transcend time and impact my life today.

I have an office set up in my home that I use for my writing projects. I am rarely alone in that room. Furry friends surround me, including my blind Springer Spaniel. Sage lies on a rug at my feet or snoozes on a dog bed a short distance from my desk. Often in the midst of my concentration, I pause and glance over to my snoring Spaniel. Her loyalty rivals many human friendships. It's no wonder dogs have been christened "man's best friend" (woman's too!).

Additionally, a cat bed sits near the computer, and my black and white seven-year-old cat often rests there, green eyes either closed in sleep or wide and watching my every move. An occasional paw stretches forth indicating the need for a chin scratch most times, I oblige (touch therapy is good for both human and animal!). Although cats have the designation of being aloof and independent, some, like my Murphy, are very people-oriented. She craves attention, enjoys lap sitting, and tries to communicate with purrs and meows.

Dogs are more noted as faithful human companions. Many news stories recount the dedication dogs have for their people, even for strangers. Those who alert humans to seizures, fire and other dangers; those who protect people from intruders; those who travel great distances to be reunited with their human family, and those that save people from drowning and avalanches we learn about such stories nearly every day. Cats and dogs are used as therapy, serving in hospitals, nursing homes, and counseling centers. Loyalty is inherent in the gift of a four-footed friend.

What bonds a pet to a person? People are the caregivers of their pets, feeding, exercising, playing, petting, lounging; we are the guardians. The more one positively interacts with their pet, the stronger the bond just as the longer one befriends a person the deeper the dedication to that friendship.

If I am away for several days, Sage, now both blind and deaf, follows me everywhere! Sightless is not sense-less, especially in a hunting breed. She uses her nose to locate me in the house. If I go into the kitchen, she follows; if I walk into the bedroom, she's at my heels. Even though she can't see me, she wants to be near me. Her wagging tail, her excited voice, and her leaning into my hands for pats and pets speak volumes about our bond and her loyalty.

We can learn a lot from our pets, including a great lesson in loyalty. Broken relationships, greed, selfishness and other negative traits often found in humans are rarely displayed in our pets. There's a saying that goes, "May I become the person my dogs thinks I am." Such a plaque hangs on my wall. It's a great aspiration.

Gayle M. Irwin is a writer, author and speaker. Her works include stories about her dogs, including Sage, her blind Springer; her stories contain strong, positive life lessons for children and adults. She has also been published in two editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul and in the nature magazine Creation Illustrated. Two new book releases are planned for 2012. Visit www.gaylemirwin.com to learn more.

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