I was an extremely shy child. I loved animals from birth. I felt comfortable in their presence, able to be myself without fear of judgment or rejection. When my parents visited friends and took me along, I could always be found on the floor with their cat or dog. Memories of my beloved pets over the years remain fresh in my mind. Each one had their unique personality traits that endeared them to me. My cat, that would come along on early morning walks like a dog. My dog, who barked at the bottom of the steps each morning to wake me up. Of course, the unforgettable Whitney, probably the biggest diva I will ever know and love. She always made me laugh with her attitude and demands. And on and on. Animals have inherent worth and value, just like humans, and that merits our respect and acknowledgment. I am constantly in awe of an animal’s personal challenge or struggle and their ability to cope with it head on. There are many life lessons we can learn from our pets, and here are a few. Compassion Compassion knows no bounds with animals. The relationship with our companion animals forces us to look beyond our own needs and to care about someone other than ourselves. Compassion in our pets is genuine love and caring in its purest form. To recognize and nurture the feelings of another. Animals demonstrate this on a daily basis with their commitment to their pet parents, their loyalty toward other household pets, and, of course, their devotion in parenthood. Patience Nothing has taught me patience as my role as a dog trainer. In the professional field, as well as working with my own dogs, you must learn effective communication to get desired results. The most important components in getting desired results is a relationship and trust, followed by effective communication and reward. Actions must be repeated and reviewed routinely for the dog to truly understand what is expected of him. You cannot rush through a lesson on your own time table but rather take cues from your dog and how he is processing and comprehending the information that is being presented to him. Patience is a key word in training any animal. Most importantly, our pets are ultimately patient with us, our ever-changing moods and unpredictability. Living in the now This amazes me about animals. They live in the present. They do not obsess about past events or worry about what their future will hold. Living in the moment gives your life much more peace and fulfillment. We might be able to control things in our future through choices and goals. We cannot change regrets from our past experiences and need to let them go. Take a cue from your cat who is sprawled on the back of the couch. Relish the moment. Humans are not so different from animals We have been led to believe that our intelligence and ability to feel and understand emotions is unparalleled, but we are now learning this is not the case. Dolphins call each other by name, elephants comfort each other and mourn their dead, primates use tools, etc. We have learned so much more over the years about the intelligence and emotions of animals. I remember seeing something on TV not long ago about a dog that had been hit and killed by a car. The deceased dog was lying in a puddle in the road and his canine friend stood beside him, refusing to leave his side. The dog had to be forcibly removed by humane officers. The love and loyalty he felt for his fallen friend was obvious. Respect your elders In the wild survival, depends on the ability and knowledge of older generations. Elephant herds with older matriarchs have higher survival rates because elder elephants can recognize the signs of drought or other natural disasters. Learning from the wisdom of the past is important for humans as well. Modern technology has replaced many social skills of the past, and it is important to remember values and family relationships of days gone by. Responsibility Growing up with a pet can instill a deeper understanding of responsibility and accountability in children. Pets teach children compassion and, as in my case, social development. When children care for their pets and see results of the pet being healthy and happy, they can associate responsibility with positive results, leading to more success in life. Stick together Animals in the wild group together, as having each other’s back is the key to survival. Birds flock and bees swarm. Groups of animals are less likely to fall victim to predators. If humans could set aside differences and work together in harmony for a common goal, the world would be a much better place. Respect each other and be kind. Keep calm and carry on. Love your pets and continue to learn from their daily appreciation of life. A shout out to Swayze’s two new friends in Barney Farms, Daisy the Dalmatian and Sophie the Puggle. LOVED meeting you both! Dog bless. Resource: onegreenplanet.org Judy Endo writes about pets. Contact her at email@example.com.