My old Friend Charlotte Kooistra wrote something about why rescue animals are so important in our lives. I was so deeply moved by it that I’ve decided to share the letter with the world-at-large. (with Charlotte’s permission) JB
True Companions Who Have My Back
My oldest nephew Scott, once very allergic to pets, asked me why I had pets, currently a very sick one, when they brought some joy but also so much heartache and grief. This was my response:
Eighty-seven animals…a perpetual kennel with revolving doors….yes that used to be US. Now we have one elderly dog with whom I share age related pains, loss of hearing, and excess weight. And we have one elderly cancer ridden cat who is on her way out with the door closing very slowly behind her….a door stop there for now keeping it open as long as possible. I think you have missed the joy of companion animal ownership though your life has been enriched in so many other ways.
There are no regrets when they pass. You can only grieve in proportion to how much you love them which is why I fall apart upon a death in our sentient creature family. They are my adopted kids, the ones I never had. But they love me no matter what. I could have really messed with the life of a human baby. These just drool and stare at you with wonder and unconditional love. Unlike tactless conversations with humans I regret, judgments that I fight when someone wrongs me or another loved one, these critters just really don’t give a flying crap (pun intended) no matter what I say, do, or think. And they are in touch with my feelings. Say that about all my human contacts….. They choose us as their owners or rather they own us…we rent them for a period of time on their terms…they come into our lives to teach us things and at times have been the only connection I have had to the outside world, joy, compassion, laughter, and healing.
When I was depressed and anxious, they sensed my anguish. During my darkest days donned in my chenille robe with bed hair I have arisen only to feed one of them which then got me to the shower, to eat a good meal, and to venture out to get the mail. Tales wag as I reentered the house because my dog greeted me like I’ve been gone forever. He is so happy to see me, he squeals.
We have a contract with them and they may know the start and end dates before we do. When we have learned enough from them, they pass on only with the promise that we will bring in another rookie dog or cat and save a life. In fact I think they tweak that process too because as they get closer to their passing, I find myself looking more at animal rescue sites or photos of kittens or aged dogs…subliminal or obvious messages sent by those who sleep on or at the foot of our bed. That’s also when they leave. To give more room to the fledgling, the underdogs or under-cats who need us, the young ones from an overabundant breeding year or an old one who stays with us as hospice care and gets a 10” thick pillow for a bed and homemade grass fed hamburger. Now I ask you who has sat on your bed and worshiped you lately? Char