Shelter Stories: A Mr.Frisky Blog

Pets: The Best Life Coaches!

I've paid for life coaching (and therapy) over the years when I needed to sort things out, but many times my pets and rescues have been my best therapists and life coaches. 

When I adopted him, Paxton was 15 years old and only 6 lbs but he had the self-esteem of a 90 pound award winning show Husky! He had true swagger, and loved nothing more than slowly creeping up on big dogs. Hey, he was old and had severe osteoarthritis so a dead run wasn't an option! Anyway, Paxton would approach the largest dog at the park, throw out his chest, tilt his head high into the air, and bark savagely to let that dog know it was about to be taken down by this bad-to-the-bone dog!

The reality - due to his age, heart condition and osteoarthritis - is that the effort of this "assault" on the other dog usually caused Paxton to tip over (picture a dinghy capsizing). At that point the large dog's owner would have a panic attack, assuming their dog had killed Paxton from sheer fright. Meanwhile the large dog would be looking around to see what that faint noise was it heard. Paxton would get right back up, shake it off, and swan around in his sweater, prancing over how he had bested the other dog. He'd then openly preen while everyone cooed over how cute he was.

It was in those moments I realized Paxton was teaching me several valuable life lessons:

1. Fake it till you make it.
2. Rock your budget Goodwill sweater like it's Dolce and Gabana.
3. Don't let anything or anyone hold back your greatness.
4. You're never too old - and don't let anyone tell you that you are!

He lived to be 19, and nothing stopped that dog. Not the osteoarthritis, the ulcers from the arthritis medicine, the heart condition, his tiny size. Every single day Paxton got up cheerfully, wanted his breakfast, played with his "sister" Mimi (another senior dog I'd adopted), spent some more time on chewing the ears off his pink stuffed pig, put on his latest snazzy sweater to go for a walk (and of course get lots of attention), and ate a hearty dinner followed by more cookies. Every night he snuggled into my side at bedtime under the blanket. He was always happy, cheerful, and peppy. It made no difference to him that he had these health problems or was "older than Moses" as the Veterinarian said at his first visit. Paxton enjoyed his life immensely. 

When I would get to feeling sorry for myself, or being cranky over things not going right, I would look at Paxton and mentally kick my own ass towards a better attitude. I still try every day to have as good an attitude as Paxton. Some days it's easier than others; that's the trick isn't it? To manage it even on the hard days! Having pets helps. The dogs and cats I have been lucky enough to have in my life since Paxton are also an inspiration. Jewel cat, whom I adopted at age 17, was much like Paxton in her attitude and approach to life. 

You can argue that pets thrive because of the love we give them, but don't forget - that love also flows from them back to you. So go put on your best Goodwill sweater and take on the world!