Saturday, January 30, 2010

Man's Best Friend

When our children were very young, we decided to adopt a Sheltie from a rescue center. Lady looks just like Lassie but is smaller. She was really easy to train and eager to please her family. One day, we visited Sea World and our favorite part of the day was watching a special show that featured dogs and cats that had been rescued. I was curious just how these animals could do so much and visited with one of the trainers after the show. The lesson was simple, love and patience.

Training your pets is a step by step process. With lots of training, Lady learned to follow special hand signals and gestures to do her tricks. The most impressive was kicking a soccer ball into a goal. She could also roll over when I made a certain signal. She appeared to answer my questions with a bark but really she was just responding to hand signals.

When my wife returned to work, Lady appeared to be lonely and we decided to get her a companion. During the first week with us, our new addition to the family destroyed almost all of our furniture. He lived in a home with no fence and was tied up outside while his master worked twelve hour days. Spending time in the thunder storms with no companions really messed him up and it took years to change his behavior. We named him Lucky because he was really lucky that we didn't return him. None of us could bear the thought of sending him back to his old life. He just needed love and patience.

My youngest son really wanted his own pet and one day, my brother-in-law found a little Chihuahua that was in a shelter. The poor little dog grew up in Mexico. You could see all of its bones and its ears were full of mites. These three pets are really something to see together and they bring us so much joy.

As human beings, we need to feel loved. There is something special about coming home to a pet that is so eager to be with you and play with you. Our three pets have really enhanced our family and brought us so much joy.

Lady and Lucky are fast approaching their twilight of their lives. They age about seven times faster than humans. It seems like just yesterday that our pets came into our home. In human years, they are about to be teenagers, in dog years they are senior citizens. They won't be with us much longer. It is painful to see them slowing down.

Whether you are thinking about adding pets to your family or children, be comforted in knowing that the cuddling they provide will give you a healthy heart. I will cherish the memories of our three pets long after they have departed. If you decide to add a pet to your family, don't forget about the rescue centers. They are waiting to be loved. If you are feeling especially bold, why not consider adopting one of the orphans in Haiti? It is something to pray about. Have a great weekend.

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