After my cancer diagnosis I didn’t feel very thankful. When I started chemo, I couldn’t wait for fall and winter to arrive. I just wanted summer to be over and the sooner the better. “I wish it was Halloween,” I said more than a few times to my family over the course of the summer months. Time couldn’t go by quickly enough for me then.
Despite the fact that following a cancer diagnosis it sometimes feels as if time stands still, it doesn’t of course, and the holidays are upon us. This Thanksgiving I have much to be thankful for. Along with the usual things like family and friends, this year I am thankful to be on the other side of treatment, most of it anyway, and hopefully for good. I certainly have a greater appreciation for my family and life in general.
This week we are dog and cat sitting (the grandchildren as David likes to call them) for my daughter and her boyfriend. Ace, their big black-labbish mutt, along with Scout and Beamer, their two cats, are managing to liven things up around here a bit. In addition to my two sons, my dad and brother are also spending Thanksgiving with us, as well as their three cairn terriers; Mandi, Radar and Echo. So including Elsie and Sophie, our two dogs, we will have a grand total of eight animals at our Thanksgiving! The animals will outnumber the people!
Having all of these animals around makes me realize once again just how thankful I am to have always had four-legged critters in my life. While I am more of a dog person, (dare I say it?) I am even coming to enjoy having the cats around.
Pets are amazing. Mine have always served as sort of “therapists” to me over the years, but even more so after my mother’s cancer diagnosis and then my own.
My mother loved dogs and we always had dogs when I was growing up. In fact, one of the greatest gifts she gave me was this crazy love of dogs. Dogs (and all pets) teach us a lot about living and dying and about what is important and what is not.
Sometimes your dog can seem like your best and only friend. Your dog doesn’t care if you failed your driver’s test, didn’t get that A, didn’t get that job, gained ten (or more) pounds, if you are tired, cranky, distracted, sad, afraid, sick or even dying. Your dog will love you no matter what. Dogs are loyal companions who love you for no particular reason other than that you are in their lives and take care of them.
Most people believe dogs do not feel the same emotions that people do. That is probably true; however, I believe my dogs do feel empathy and even compassion for me and others in their lives. I witnessed it firsthand the day I received my cancer diagnosis. They didn’t know what was going on that day, but they knew it was something serious.
No, pets don’t understand the reasons for our moods and they don’t even need to. Just like with any good friend, they don’t need to know all the details, they are just there for you no matter what. I have looked into the eyes of my dogs and seen genuine care and concern there, more clearly than in the eyes of some people. You can’t fake that. Yes pets make life richer, at least mine do, most of the time anyway. If you don’t have a pet, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
That’s why today and every day, along with all my other blessings, I am thankful for the pets in my life.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYBODY! And don’t forget to be thankful for the pets in your life!
Do you have a special pet now or did you at one time? Are you a dog person or a cat person? Or why do you prefer to not have a pet? (Yes, that’s OK too!)
Sophie and Elsie
Beamer and Scout