Saturday, November 27, 2010

the work that they do

I have recently returned from travelling for a series of regional business meetings. As some of you know I am fortunate enough to work in the pet industry….so I spend my days talking about dogs, cats and the human-animal bond and working with fellow pet lovers. It is not only perfectly acceptable, but it is expected, that the conversations over meals during these meetings were focused on how much we were missing our own pets, swapping stories about how our animals made us laugh, about how much they mean to us. These conversations and these weeks of travel got me thinking about the notion of work….not of ours per say but of the work that our animals do. In the traditional sense the work of animals, specifically dogs, has been defined by activities like herding, guarding, guiding, searching and rescuing, etc. Their jobs have also expanded into arenas like therapy and hospice work. These are all important jobs performed by remarkable dogs. But the work that I got thinking about is the work that our ordinary, run of the mill dogs and cats do every day...the jobs they do for us – individually as pet owners – and for us collectively as a group.

The work that Sophie has done for me and continues to do for me is the very thing that this blog was built upon on. Initially, simply in becoming a dog owner, her work was to teach me about patience, about communication, about how to build connections, about perseverance. When my life was turned upside down, her work became comforting me, inspiring me, showing me the possibility of a different path...of slowing down, of figuring out what brings me joy and chasing after it with no looking back. And as our lives have become so intertwined, her work continues – she is my muse, in both my personal and professional life – a huge job for one little dog but one that she does beautifully. And the work of our pets is not limited to our dogs….our cats have equally demanding roles. If Sophie is my muse, Elora is my heart….quiet, steady and always, always there. Her job is to be my touchstone…my constant in world full of change…my rock. Her very presence is what I define as home…again, another huge job for such a small girl, but she does it, without fail, every day.

As we talked about our pets over breakfast and dinners during these regional meetings, the work that these animals do was apparent time and time again. Stories were told, not just about the unique, personal roles that these dogs and cats play in their owners lives, but also the work that they do in general for many people in this world – people they may only interact with in a brief and fleeting moment….bringing smiles to strangers faces with their wagging tails and easy demeanors; lifting spirits of troubled souls, even if it’s just a for a few minutes, with their exuberance and infectious enthusiasm for life; easing tension between co-workers with their simple, unconditional love for any and all people.

This kind of work that our animals perform….it is not because we tell them to do these jobs, or because they get rewarded…it’s simply what they do, it’s part of their very nature. And after my weeks of travels, I found myself writing this on the plane as I flew home eager to see Sophie and Elora because I was thinking about what our lives might be like if that wasn’t the case…if it was not their nature. I know for me, and I think I can say for most of the people that I spent time with at these meetings and for most of you who continue to visit Finding Sirius, our lives would have less…less joy, less comfort, less laughter and, definitely, less love. The work that they do….be thankful for it and love them for it.


Lo said...

Oh, Yeah!!!

What a beautifully constructed and articulated piece of thinking and writing.

Profound and exquisite.

It may not be audiblke or visible to you but you are getting a standing ovation at this very moment from me, Gussie and Winnie.

L. D. Burgus said...

I believe that they create their own jobs while we are not looking. My border collie is in charge of things out in the back yard that I never assigned him to do, but he does it proudly. He has even taught our toy poodle to help him in his barking chores.

Caren Gittleman said...

beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

Jan said...

Always a pleasure Andrea. You never fail to inspire and entertain. Thanks for visiting and I am back!

Neil Bytes said...

Well said.

Bruce said...

Without our pets or children, our lives would be self-centered and we would turn out to be horribly selfish human beings. Thank you for this beautiful blog post.
your friends,
Bruce the cat & Sharon:)

Holly said...

I believe being a pet is one of the hardest, most difficult to understand job we ask our pets to do. It is also one of the most important as the pets we own often form memories that we fall back on in later years.

Hilary said...

Such a lovely tribute to the importance of our pets, Andrea. Beautifully written.

Carolynn said...

I can not imagine my life without an animal in it. A home without an animal feels lifeless, dead to me, like there's a vacuum needing to be filled. I never feel completely comfortable or at ease in it.

All of my animals taught me so very much. I am profoundly grateful for each and every one of them and will be forever indebted to them. I continue to maintain, in all seriousness, that they are angels wrapped in fur.


Far Side of Fifty said...

Nothing better than a few four legged friends who follow your every move! Ah I love dogs..they always make me smile. Cats too..but we don't have one unless you count grand kittys..then we are blessed with five! (That will make you sneeze!)
Sophie is looking just as pretty as ever..good to hear from you again! :)