Your animals should not be like your children. They should be your grandparents.
I say this for one specific and important reason- it is unnatural to outlive your offspring.
Barring some unforeseen tragic event, it will be your privilege to preside over the passing of your critters. I say ‘preside over’ because in modern times- it is the human parents (under the advice of a good vet) that often decide exactly when our pets will leave us.
I have always lived with a small menagerie of permeant pets and transient wild rescues in my home. With varying degrees of success.
(WARNING tangent eminent! This will have nothing to do with anything else.)
(Ok, tangent over)
Our pets become our family and rightfully so. They share our greatest moments, many of our joys and sorrows but I would argue should never retain any kind of perpetual infancy.
Such things are unnatural.
Our animal buddies will live a complete lifetime in a fraction of the time it takes us.
We often raise them from babies but it is paramount to remember that at some point they WILL lap us in maturity. It is then we can benefit from the peace and wisdom the twilight years bestow upon them.
I cannot count the number of times I have been distraught, only to have one of my companions join me. Look me in the eye, truly understanding my pain. Never needing to know why. It is then- with just a small nudge to my hand I am reminded that we will be ok.
After all right here and now, we have each other.
In those moments, their complete comprehension is irrefutable and the healing power they provide is undeniable.
We must remember that they will become our elders, fellow keepers of life’s truths. It will then be our duty to witness them pass on. As we often have to do with the elders of our human families.
The final gift both will leave us with (if we let them) is a greater appreciation for how short life is.
It can refocus our attention on the things that matter in life. Inspire us to rededicate ourselves to love and kindness because in the end there are few things that matter more. There is great magic in the realization that kindness is a universal language.
Sharing a life with an animal or just a brief but powerful encounter (like the hawk) can offer us a return to the natural way of things.
It is a very basic thing- beings are born, live a short while and die.
A truth that many modern humans have removed from our daily lives. There is a tragic separation from the circle of life and it causes harm to our understanding of the world and our place in it. As well as our ability to cope with life’s enviable end.
In giving our fellow beings the respect they deserve as our equals and not our subordinates- we restore balance to the system and can find a greater peace in every stage of our lives and those we share it with.