“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” Anatole France.
The bond we share with our pets is hard to describe. I was lucky enough to discover this secret joy at a young age with Cocoa, our family’s black Labrador. She celebrated my childhood delights and comforted me when I cried. She awakened my soul.
I don’t have human children, and I’m often told that I don’t know what I’m missing until I have a child of my own. I believe these people. I believe them because I feel this way about my pets. Your heart, your soul, remains unawakened if you haven’t experienced that kind of love. I’m not offended by these well-intentioned comments because they want me to experience the joy they feel. You want to share it and shout it from the mountain tops! But where does this bond come from? The bond with children is obvious, they are like us – human beings. But how do we bond with cats and dogs, who are very different?
How can you bond to a being that doesn’t speak? It’s an unspoken trust. It’s an intuitional knowing that doesn’t need to be vocalized. Don’t get me wrong, I speak to my furbabies all the time – in voices that I’d rather not admit in public! Non-verbal communication is really quite special because it has a different vibe. Almost meditative. You speak with your actions, your body, your energy. Words are not necessary. It is often said that “love is a verb” and this is especially true with animals. They only see your actions. To love someone is to truly know them (including the good, the bad and the cat sprinting down the hall at 3:00 am). This bond allows you to look at your pet and know what they are feeling. I once had a deep bond with a Catahoula. Just by looking at her face, I knew when she was not impressed by a certain guest or if she adored him. I connected with her on a level that opened my heart to something I often don’t experience with humans and all the noise we interject.
This deep bond also connects us to nature. Have you heard of the Japanese phenomenon, Shinrin-yoku or “Forest Bathing”? It is believed that spending time in a forest or nature has relaxation and health benefits. Along those same lines, there is something exceptional about spending time with animals. When you communicate on their level and operate in the present moment, you are in a space that is pure. It offers us an honest connection to our roots in nature. This is cherished by those of us that don’t live on a farm but navigate our lives in the concrete jungle of city life. They are often the only link we have to the natural world on a daily basis.
My bond with my pets connects me deeper to my true self. They enrich my life in ways I can’t explain in human words, and that’s okay. But I’ll still try shouting it from the mountains!
If you’re looking to upgrade your life experience, consider adopting an animal. Then let me know when you finally understand the un-explainable.
Sarah is an animal advocate and lives in Missouri City, TX with her husband, dog and two cats.