A MyStory Life Theme: Pet Tales

Preface: In my previous post I introduced the topic of a new book I am working on, called MyStory (or, YourStory/ Mystory or simply Your MyStory, TBD). Each chapter explores Life Theme events that have punctuated a person’s life. I am trying on several of those themes from my own MyStory here in the blog while developing the manuscript. Hope you enjoy! – LKW


If you value in a relationship unconditional love, loyalty, mutual commitment, trust, loving companionship and lifelong cohabitation, live with a pet soul companion, or two or more.  This I have learned from a lifetime of living with my pet Friends.  Human relationships may come and go—such is the sometimes-capricious nature of free will and the obligations each individual has to their own goals and interests which may shift over time—but bringing a pet home is a commitment with benefits and responsibilities for a lifetime of loving companionship and adventure.

I have benefitted from so many spectacular ‘pet’ relationships that it is not possible to select just one or two to focus on as I reflect on the value and lessons from these connections. Recently I have outlined an entire book that I would like to write to cover this theme of my other-than-human animal Soul companions.

But I would do well to start here and now to spotlight my current pet family of Sophie (a ‘golden’ Shorkie/ Shitzu-Yorkie) and Emily (my orange-white golden-eyed female tabby).

Photo by Anne Lyon

Sophie has accompanied me on seven cross country trips between Colorado Springs and upper New York state, the last of which in 2018 moved us—with Emily too—Back East after over forty years, for me, Out West.  Since then, Sophie and Emily have moved with me two more times until we have arrived in our current rental house in my original hometown village in Western New York.

I am grateful every day, every moment, to Sophie and Emily for their constant love and companionship, especially through moves to locations where I have had few if any immediate local human connections.  As a singleton, retired but still working remotely person living “alone,” I have never actually been or felt alone due to our loving family.

When Sophie was 7 (now 12), she was diagnosed as diabetic. On that day, on hearing the somber news, I actually fainted in the vet’s office and ended up at a hospital, having collapsed ostensibly from dehydration but really from the shock of awareness of my dear friend Sophie’s dire need for special care to save her quality of life. But over time, Sophie’s health condition has proven to be a gift or at least a mixed blessing. We had a terrific vet in Colorado and good friends who helped me research and develop a homemade diet and care plan that, after plenty of trial and error and readjusting after each of our Big Moves, works! (Sophie’s diet, which I have blogged about, will be a chapter in my book!). I cook all of Sophie’s meals from scratch, including a litany of supplements and eye care treatments, and managing her diet along with our daily walks and regularity of routine have helped me improve and manage my own health conditions, plus our unconditional interdependence and love has no parallel.  Right this weekend Sophie is recovering from stitches to her eyelid because of my mistake in trying to trim some hair over her eye (know better!) that nicked her eyelid.  Not fun for either of us, but as with other incidents in our times together, we will get through this with deep love and reciprocity.

Photo by Pamela Flynn

Emily, too, is such a special, loving, quiet, healing cat friend. Initially she and her brother Arthur were feral.  Rescued by a good friend in New Mexico who already had 10 pets, one frigid New Years weekend, my friend Madeline lured them from the subzero desert night where coyotes and loose dogs roamed, onto her enclosed porch, with warm milk and an electric blanket they could sleep on. The next day I drove with them back to Colorado Springs.  Arthur, who was his more petite sister’s guardian angel on earth, survived here only 5 years. He developed a blood clot after dental surgery that took him from us. Gradually Emily has grown into her own mature (14 now) loving self, a constant source of daily cuddles and purr mantras and a regular visitor to Zoom sessions especially with my spiritual community  in New York since Covid-19.

Images (other than photos above) are from Pixabay.com

Animals Are Soul, Too (by Harold Klemp) is the title of a book I enjoy.  Sophie and Emily teach me about cross-species spiritual companionship every day and in many ways.  Truly I cannot imagine having made the recent moves I have needed to make without my Sophie and Emily family. I am many times blessed and grateful. Many other pet friend Souls have come before (and earlier with) them in my life, each with their own amazing tales of love and companionship. But my current family unit of Sophie-Em-and me has brought, on the whole, great joy and comfort to our lives.  Home is where the Heart is, and together we have forged our own way Home.

Positive Reinforcement

Over the last two months I have found some success with practicing positive reinforcement, mainly with my beloved dog companion Sophie, but also as a life lesson more generally.

It started one day when, while I was in the bathroom, my dear Sophie–11+years young and generally excellent about utilizing piddle pads in her own rather opulent bathroom setup with tarps and liners and four pads at a time to prevent misses!–, sat right outside the bathroom door and relieved herself on the area-rug carpet!  This happened two times more in the next couple of days despite my arduous use of enzymatic cleanups and strong admonishment and reinforcement of the litter pads.

The fourth day in, I decided to get rid of the rug, rolled it up and moved it to the basement, leaving a wood floor such as she has never made mistakes on. But I wondered inwardly, what was going on? Sophie seemed pleased with herself when she had used the carpet in my view, so I knew somehow she thought I would be equally pleased and was confused when I was not!

Here’s who I’m talking about!

I realized the carpet area Sophie had used was near the water cooler (Culligan dispenser). Sometimes water might drip from the dispenser while I am filling a glass or a coffee carafe. So I figured out that Sophie might have interpreted this slight moisture on the rug as an invitation. With this awareness, I changed my approach.

After still strongly reinforcing the use of her litter pads (she is a small dog and while she loves to relieve herself out of doors, I want her to have a way to do so overnight or when I am away for several hours), I started rewarding her with diabetic-friendly Sci-Di W/D morsels, calling them “piddle treats.”  Every time she uses the pads during the day and every morning when I check her pads out, I congratulate and praise her for being such a good girl!

She has not made any mistakes since this change in approach to positive reinforcement instead of admonishment.

Good girl!

I have been reflecting on the practice of positive reinforcement more generally.  I realize it is important to use positive reinforcement with others I interact with day to day, and with myself! This has led to a more relaxed attitude altogether, and I find I am finding ways to have more fun and to celebrate happiness.

In retrospect I remember how, when I was growing up, I loved the book Irish Red.  As I recall, this story directly champions using positive reinforcement and demonstrating unconditional love in bonding with a dog, and I remember from then committing to use that approach with my own pets, always.  

images (other than of Sophie!) are from pixabay.com

My cat and dog life companions (plus a parakeet, a pigeon, and mice when I was young!) have always been among my closest friends and they are my home family as I have generally lived humanly alone or with a roommate.

My better endings suggestion here is simple: Be Kind to Others and to Yourself to Be Happy! Reward your loved ones and yourself with positive vibes and attitudes.

*****
Better Endings Story Seed

How can you practice positive reinforcement with a relationship situation you are currently facing, and with yourself? Journal also about a time when you used positive reinforcement and it led to an improvement in your life happiness.

Healing Paws

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My heart has been aching this past few weeks as I feel caught between a rock and a hard place in one situation. Fortunately I have my pet companions: my golden Shorkie, Sophie and my two cat friends Emily and Loki . They are together and each one of them a refuge of the heart who engulf me in their own Healer ways as I do them. So today I will post about my animal Soul companions because it lifts my heart to do so.

Emily, Sweetheart

Tomorrow my Emily has to go to the vet to have her teeth cleaned and possibly to have a tooth extracted. Last year she lost her brother Arthur, who apparently had heart failure or a blood clot when he had dental extractions. These current vets I am taking Emily to specialize in cats and give me many reassurances, but until she is well recovered after tomorrow I will worry. She seems to sense this and is staying closer than usual, as if to reassure me herself that all will be well. {PS Tuesday: All is well!}

I always tell my pet companions that I love them for always: “24/7 times eternity!” I know they feel the same about me. They are for me a well in the Desert, sometimes.

Loki

Loki, my Lifesaver

(But that’s another story!)

The Healer nature of animal companions reminds me that humans are not the only Soul-embodied beings with archetypal consciousness formations.  Some animals are trained as Warriors or as Nourishers, others are naturally inclined to develop as Healers or even Elder Leaders, and they express their Lover qualities unconditionally–so often better than humans –so long as they are treated with love in turn.

Sophie

Sophia

(Her name so fits her Wisdom and boundless Joy!)

So lap it up! Enjoy the special healing purrs and comforting paw taps of your sacred animal Friends. They will be there for you Always, no matter your relations with much more (too!) complicated humans.