“It’s just an animal”. I’ve never understood that expression. I wonder if people who think that way have never experienced the unadulterated joy of being greeted by a dog happy to have you home or sitting with a cat curled around your neck, while you read your favourite book.
My journey through life has formed unbreakable bonds with every animal that has serendipitously entered my life. They’ve been there through the good times and bad. They continue to show me the person I am and the person I want to be and they offer unconditional acceptance and love.
Animals have always been a part of my life. If it had fins, fur or feathers, it’s probably spent time in my home. My best childhood memories were spent at zoos and marine parks. I learned a lot about animals and this set me on my path to where I am today being paid to play.
As a child, I learned about responsibility while helping on my aunt and uncle’s hobby farm. I was in charge of milking the goats. Not only did we get fresh milk every morning, but also after chores were finished, I got to ride my cousin’s horse.
I also learned that my actions have consequences. If the dog wasn’t walked enough, I might come home to a half eaten couch or find that my cat had used my favourite chair as a toilet because his litter box wasn’t clean enough. But the best lesson was about cleaning up the backyard; nothing like poop squishing between your toes to get the point across.
As a teenager, I was searching for my own path to happiness and again my pets played a vital role. With my pets, I could let my guard down and truly be myself. I could tell them my hopes and dreams and they never once offered advice or told me that my dreams were impossible or unrealistic. They would let me cry and be angry and they simply offered a head on my knee for comfort and licked away my tears. My pets thought I was the smartest, most important person and they instilled confidence in me to pursue my passion.
Today, while science tells us that having a pet will lower your blood pressure and help you live a longer healthier life; my pets continue to teach me more about life and myself every day.
My family has grown from 1 cat to 6 cats and a dog and hundreds more if you count all my clients. My gregarious group of seven besides teaching me about unconditional love also offers daily life lessons. Now only four of the cats are mine. The other two cats and dog live upstairs and are my surrogates.
Lester was hit by a car before I adopted him and he is partially blind and brain damaged. He teaches me about goal setting and perseverance. If he wants that extra treat, tummy rubs or simply to get me up a half hour earlier, he forms a plan and executes it.
Myelo was born blind and he teaches me to celebrate my uniqueness. He uses echolocation to see and his self confidence is inspiring.
Gus is the smallest of the group and he teaches me to ask for what I want. Gus almost died from an infection that turned him from white to brown and cost him all his teeth. Whether it be an extra snuggle or simply more special food; Gus is always optimistic and figures the worst I can say is “No”.
Grace is the only girl and she is my warrior. People tried to drown her before I adopted her and she is also blind. She shows courage in everything she does and she teaches me to let go of the past and keep moving forward.
Lenny was kicked in the head and is a little simple. He teaches me to see the world with child like wonder.
Moe is the resident escape artist. He has extra toes, which come in quite handy for opening doors. He teaches me to think outside the box and to push past my limits.
Last but certainly not least is Simpson. He is a white German Shepherd/Husky mix and he developed epilepsy late in life. He teaches me to never pass up an opportunity to experience life.
So you see; it’s never been “just an animal” to me. Animals exude joy in its purest form. They’ve taught me about myself and about life. They’ve helped me to become the person I am and turn my passion into a career.
When you go home tonight, think about everything that your “just an animal” has given you and taught you, and give them that extra treat, a hug and a big THANK YOU for accepting you exactly as you are.
— By Corry Hamilton
Taking the Lead
905 697 2788