Written by: Genisus Hess, Adoption Counselor, Humane League of Lancaster County
If you haven’t met my pup, Cricket, she is a 70 lb ball of wild, excited, joyful energy. Being a German Shepherd / Australian Shepherd Mix, she loves nothing more than sharing her opinion on everything, and sprinting around the yard like a four-legged race car. In short, she very much embraces the German Shepherd side of herself.
Despite being a mischievous goofball, I learned rather quickly that she is a smart lady.
Maybe she runs into the door now and again because she wasn’t looking, or trips over her own four paws, but in the time I have spent with her, she has taught me numerous valuable lessons about life, and how to live it to the fullest.
On a normal day, Cricket and I could usually be found taking hikes with our best friend, stopping by Dunkin’ Donuts for a sweet treat, or just being out on the town in general. Now, with everything going on, we have found ourselves spending a lot of time at home. While I have been feeling cooped up and anxious to get out, Cricket has been calm and content. I actually haven’t noticed much of a difference in her at all – she is still happy and excited, just as she was before. Taking a moment to ponder, I realize that this is the first lesson Cricket is teaching me – being content and finding joy, no matter the circumstance. During my working hours, where I am calling clients and have my full attention on my computer, Cricket is happy to just be curled up by my feet, treating every small ear scratch she can get as the best thing in the world. Even though we can’t go on our hikes as often as we used to, she still finds pleasure in romping around the yard, and taking the same meadow path we have taken day after day after day. Instead of feeling cooped up, Cricket has found joy merely in the fact that we are together more often than usual. In all, she has always been finding the silver linings, and has encouraged me to do so as well.
Speaking of being content, Cricket has also taught me a valuable lesson of slowing down. Lately, my mind has been racing at a million miles per hour, with dozens of “what-if’s” and general worries bouncing around my mind. I, in general, have a very go- go-go personality, and have found the slowed down pace of quarantine frustrating. It isn’t in my nature to settle and slow down. Cricket, however, has been showing me how it’s done. When she finishes the tasks that need doing (annoying the cats, stealing some of mama’s breakfast, etc.), Cricket finds importance in taking a good nap, or in spending some time chewing on her favorite Nylabone (which is shaped like a dinosaur, very cool). It is during these times I find myself drawn to stop my rushing, and sit beside her, and just be. I let my thoughts slow down, and stop my worrying. I just allow myself to slow down and enjoy this moment together. When necessary tasks are finished, it is important – especially at a time like this – to invest in what you enjoy doing, and to take some time for self-care. Cricket reminds me daily that instead of worrying, I should settle down and take it slowly. Read a book, work on a drawing, or – Cricket’s favorite – cuddle up and binge watch Supernatural.
Lastly, Cricket taught me the importance of reaching out when I need to. Despite being a joyful, happy lady, there are some things that frighten Cricket. Due to a worrisome past before we found each other, Cricket finds a lot of anxiety when it comes to strangers or people she doesn’t know. While she is always polite and kind, strange humans can cause a good deal of stress and anxiety for her. Whenever Cricket comes upon something that makes her uneasy and that she feels she cannot handle, she always, without fail, will sit quietly pressed up against me or quietly behind me, and will look to me for what she should do. We have a trust that says that she can always come to me if she is frightened, and can rest knowing that I will take care of her and keep her safe. In this way, she shows me how important it is to reach out to those that I trust when it feels I cannot handle what is in front of me. When everything feels overwhelming, it is important that I reach out for guidance and comfort, instead of trying to deal with it all on my own.
All in all, Cricket continues to be a teacher to me, especially during this time of uncertainty. Take a moment to think about your own pets, or any animals you care for – what lessons do they have for you, during this time? What can you learn from them?
Keep an ear out – they may surprise you with their wisdom.