Mourning pets & loving well
Over the years we've had the following live at our country home:
Two guinea pigs
About seven dogs
About 18 cats
Two pigmy goats
Those were just the tame ones. We have about a dozen wild turkeys. A coyote recently walked across our back lawn. We have the odd fox and lots of deer. Skunks and possums and racoons take up residence in our garage on occasion.
We Barneses love animals. Especially me, Emily and Estie*. We take care of them and pet them and talk to them. They become honorary members of our family. When the kids were younger, they were forever taking in pets. Now that they're grown, we've got just two cats and two dogs left. Of course Asha (that's her above – isn't she the cutest thing?) rules the roost.
But being an animal around our place can be tough. It's a Darwinian environment. Once we came home from church and found that some dogs or coyotes had ravaged our chickens and ducks. Most were dead or dying. One hen had run for her life to the garage and thereafter took up residence there, laying an egg a day on one of the shelves as compensation for her new accommodations.
The problem with loving anything, especially something as fragile as a pet, is that you risk losing what you love. We've mourned more pets here. We've had pet tragedies by the score. And each time we grieved the pet's passing. For a day, maybe, we considered whether we could love again. God has equipped us with tender hearts it seems.
But always another pet appeared and always we opened our hearts to love it.
Loving and losing our pets taught us something about life. I've lost friends. I've had my heart broken more times than I can count. But always I choose to love again. Yes, there's the temptation to guard my heart – to shut it down for the season and protect it. But maybe all those pets helped prepare me for the rigors of real life. My heart has a resiliency now.
You can't experience real love without opening yourself up to real loss. The two go hand-in-hand. I've learned to love well and to grieve well. My children and their pets have taught me that there's no better way to live.
*It's Estie's birthday today & Emily's graduation Friday – please join me in loving them well as they celebrate.
Seth…sorry for the technology problems here. I love that the Barnes love animals. I do too. And when vagrants overwhelm…call me.
By the way I am working on a big project even you wouldn’t believe. 🙂 Call sometime…719-660-7274. Love to your grand family. Our son Sam and I have dinner tomorrow night in Denver and that of course gives me joy. Shalom……
Wow. Just a few minutes ago I posted a blog about my struggle with the possibility of having to give up our cats to go on the World Race. Thanks for the reminder that even if that is what happens, that opening ourselves to the possibility of loss is what allows us to love. Wise words.
Hey! I love animals too! Who got you that beloved dog anyway!
Your comments remind me of my parents’ recent loss of their Yorkie (the picture helps too). Mitzi came into their lives as an abandoned pup, and brought them more happiness than I’d ever seen them have. They become more social in the community, because they would take her for walks and begin chatting with neighbors whom they had only had very minimal relationships with previously. They would love coming home to her greetings, and she had created a morning routine for my parents of waking up and letting her out, then feeding her while they ate breakfast together. She had become part of the family, and she was tragically killed in their front yard by a bigger dog who escaped a neighbor’s cage (not well treated). They now have a new Yorkie, whom they love, but will never replace Mitzi as a loving member of our family.
Great anecdote, Bill. Asha has done that for our family too. Made us more light-spirited. We laugh and smile more. And she keeps us warm when we sleep.