Dogs were bred from the wild as companion animals and hunters. Domesticated animals in general have run the gamut from egg laying hens to lap-purring kittens, seeing eye dogs to Tennessee Walking Horses. Once we have domesticated animals in our lives, we form intense attachments to them not unlike a tribal connection; the animals give us a sense of protection, companionship, identity, belonging and celebration. We can love them and baby them, worship them and include them in family activities. People love animals because they need to love and animals receive our love unconditionally; for the most part, they don’t point out our inadequacies, our faults and our foibles. They don’t laugh at us or fight with us. Sometimes we struggle with our animals but largely we depend on them for a sense of family, home and even ancient feelings of tribe.
How can it be possible that so many people can’t get along with others but simply adore their pets? There is truth to be found in the old cliché of the outcast older woman with her lack of human connections, surrounded by a dozen or more cats. Or the stories of people living with ten dogs and treating them more like royalty than animals, ignoring and neglecting their own children in the process. Is it possible to find our way back to people from loving animals, using our ability to empathize, care for and nurture to really protect and care for our human tribal members as well?
Recently, our cat ingested thread he’d knocked down from a dresser. It was very, very thin, used recently to mend my son’s sweatshirt. He was so ill he had to be taken into emergency surgery, worked on for two hours, and then kept at the animal hospital for over 48 hours. When we visited him, we’d been told he hadn’t been eating and that he needed to eat to get well. Upon sniffing our fingers, he relaxed and began purring, rubbing his head all over our hands, and yes, eating.
We have him home now, and the sense of peace and calm that has been restored to our home is remarkable. With our cat ill, it was as if one of our tribe members had been missing.