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Showing posts with label animal soul.
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Tuesday, July 30th, 2013, 08:19 PM | Updated: 07/30/2013, 08:19:02 PM | (Anonymous) [0 Comments]

Yesterday I had an errand that required a visit to a local pet cemetery.  Never having been to a pet cemetery before, I took the opportunity to walk around and see for myself what one is like.

Visually the landscape was similar to a human cemetery except on a smaller scale.  The grounds were very well maintained with flowers placed on or nearby some of the graves.  The majority of the graves were marked by flat (flush with the ground) stones.  Small sculptures, mostly recreating the likeness of an animal or specifically, someone’s deceased pet, also graced the grounds.

By far, the most compelling part of my visit was reading the inscriptions on the gravestones.  Some were very simple, including just the name of the pet and his/her years of birth and death.  Others were more elaborate with the words carefully chosen to reflect the depth of the pet owner’s relationship with their loved one and the profound loss they experienced following their pet’s death.  Still others were more whimsical or humorous, capturing some favorite pet pastime or memorable personality trait.  Rather than feeling sad as I read the epitaphs, I actually felt lighthearted.  Clearly this was due to the meticulous thought pet owners had given to the words they had engraved on their pets’ tombstones.  And so as I read each epitaph, my mind tried to visualize the animal associated with it and I found myself smiling, occasionally even laughing out loud.

It wasn’t until I walked back to my car that sadness began to settle in around me.  I felt like I was leaving so many loved ones behind and I could not take them with me.  My mind leaped forward to those days somewhere in the future, when my own dogs will no longer be with me.  And that caused me to consider what I will do with my pets’ remains.  Would I bury them in a pet cemetery like this one?

While this cemetery was a beautiful place and only goodness inhabited it, I concluded that it was not a place that I would want to bury my pets.  Rather, I would continue down the path that I started more than thirteen years ago when our last pet passed away.  Our pets’ ashes will be with us in our home.  And when I leave this world, I will have their ashes buried with me.  I will clearly need to do my homework on how to make this happen.  But for right now, it gives me a great deal of comfort.

I had no idea that a visit to a pet cemetery on a sunny San Diego morning would lead me to do this kind of soul searching.  What an amazing day!

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013, 03:47 PM | Updated: 06/05/2013, 07:36:15 PM | (Anonymous) [0 Comments]

Do pets have a soul?  Read on to find out! 

I was making a quick stop at Costco the other day and found myself browsing through the store’s book selection.  Despite already owning many books about pets, I found myself on the other side of the checkout aisle having purchased two more for my reading pleasure and growing collection.

One book is “Following Atticus” by Tom Ryan; it’s an account of the author’s true adventures with his miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch as they attempted to hike to almost one hundred snowy peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire one winter.  The second book is “Oink” with the subtitle “My Life with Mini-Pigs” by Matt Whyman.  This true story captures the author’s life with his wife and four children in the idyllic English countryside and how Butch and Roxi (two miniature pigs) joined their family and added their own special charm to an otherwise ordinary life. 

As I look at these two books and the others on my bookshelf, I think about one book that preceded most of them, “Marley & Me” by John Grogan.   For animal lovers, there’s no need to explain who Marley was and what he accomplished as “the world’s worst dog” during his life.  I was one of the millions who read this book, and laughed, cringed and ultimately wept as Mr. Grogan related Marley’s story.

Mr. Grogan’s book led the pack of the hundreds of others that followed.  And what they all have in common is they tell the story of an animal (cat, dog, horse, pig, etc.) that changed someone’s life (often many lives).  They changed human lives through their unique pet personalities – their likes and dislikes, behavioral idiosyncrasies, and hysterical and sometimes dark or tragic adventures.  Upon reading these stories, it’s difficult not to think about the animal as somehow human.  This is because the author (either intentionally or not) imbues the pet with human-like attributes.  The reader can actually visualize this character with four legs situating himself/herself in the activity taking place and consciously exerting some impact on the course of events.

And so this brings me to the key theme of today’s post.  Domesticated animals absolutely do have their own unique personalities – qualities and nuances that make them different from others of their same species.  And when I think about the animals under my care, I believe they each have a soul, a being or spiritual essence that goes beyond just an endearing pet personality.  It may not be a soul in the human sense; however, it is a soul nonetheless.  As other people play important roles and touch our lives, our pets play equally important roles and touch our lives in affirming ways.  And so today I offer this Soul Food for Thought.  Every time I meet a new pet and they greet me, I first say hello and introduce myself.  Then I try to sense what makes this animal distinctive.  That’s my Ah-ha! moment!  I realize it is my search to understand their soul.

Read more about pet personalities at my website,

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