Editor’s Desk: Our Animal Companions: Kindred Spirits

POSTED September 10, 2023 IN

Humans are not a “stand-alone” species but are interconnected to all life in unseen ways. The diversity of life exists everywhere. It even surrounds our homes. Just look out your window and you’ll see an abundance of nature. You’ll see birds, flowers, spider webs, squirrels, moths flying around porch lights, lizards with their tails cut off by local cats, and much more.

Last night I dreamed of a cat companion that once graced my life. She was not a tabby, but a beautiful gray. Michael and I were living in Sausalito at the time she came into our lives. Michael had a large gray tabby he called Donald. Apparently, Donald mated with a wild calico that lived on the hillside behind our duplex. One day we arrived at home and heard scuffling under the staircase and discovered five baby kittens. They were all different colors, an orange tabby, a gray tabby, one calico, a black and white tuxedo, and a gray. The mother was completely wild and most of the kittens were very skittish. However, the one gray cat, which we named Bea, befriended us and would allow us to pet her. We fed all the kittens and at one point, with a great deal of effort we were able to round them up to get them to a vet for their distemper shots. When we moved from Sausalito we were able to get the agreement that the new residents would take over the feeding and care of the cats, now grown.

Last night the gray cat we called Bear came to me in my dream and I was so happy to see her once more. Synchronistically, in the morning while checking my email, a listener said that he was listening to a program I did with Dr. Judith Orloff and wrote that it was so helpful to him in his grieving process because they were taking their wonderful tuxedo cat, Minnie, to be euthanized and he sent a picture of her which I have permission to share with you here.

Here is what Stephan shared with me about his life with cats.

“Since my children are grown, our cats have taken over their roles and, as a former U.S. diplomat who lived and or worked in 30 countries, I have taken all my cats with me to Europe, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, etcetera. I have learned much from my cats. One of the most important things is to focus on them rather than myself and by doing that I have achieved a better more healthy sense of self and a better overall life balance.”

Farewell Minnie

Dearest Minnie. You came into our lives
by way of our garage on a spring day,
and you stayed with us for sixteen more springs.
You were beautiful and shy but made friends with
your cat family, easily.

They accepted you and watched over you
as did we these many years. Sadly, even the
best of parents cannot stop
the inevitable from happening.

Every living thing dies, and we who remain
behind are left to grieve.

As a child I said, “It’s not fair.”
And I was right.
But as a child I wasn’t aware of the
power of love and caring.
I didn’t realize that the body of
every living creature is only a vessel,
and that the end of our physical lives is only the
next step in our journey.

Thank you, Minnie, for enriching our lives
and for your love all these many years
We will never forget you.

Stephan Helgesen
August 26, 2023
Tijeras, New Mexico

If you are one who lives with a beloved animal companion, you understand how they know what you’re thinking. Even a goldfish, I was told by Alan Kaufman, would seemingly be attracted to companionship and sidle up to the side of the fishbowl where he sits down after being gone all day. There are so many instances where animals have helped in healing and there is no doubt that there is a mysterious connection between animals and people. Dogs teach us unconditional love, cats teach us the importance of meditation and taking naps, prairie dogs teach us to greet the sun in prayer every day, otters teach us to play, crows can recognize faces, wolves and whales teach us to sing and the importance of having a close relationship with your pack or pod, emus encourage a sense of humor, horses help us train our intuition. Even octopuses have personalities and display tremendous curiosity.

Interacting with animals is inspiring, enriching, and reduces stress and improves well-being. It helps us to live longer and better lives. Engaging in a mindful relationship with animals is good for the animals and is also very good for us. They can bolster our EQ [emotional quotient] by teaching us empathy and forgiveness.

We are surrounded by great souls and sometimes they look like us and sometimes they don’t. They can be of great help to us and provide great delight. Ultimately we need to listen to, watch, and respect the world beyond the human one.





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