When people ask me why I write about animals, my answer is always the same: because they are amazing – and they matter! They matter to us as individuals, and they matter to us as a species. They are a part of who we are. Their lives have been intertwined with ours for millennia, and we have an obligation to protect them.
We need them for our physical and emotional health. Their existence enriches our lives in ways that nothing else can. But there is something else that draws me to animals: the mindful/instinctive/intuitive way they live.
They are conscious creatures, aware of their environment and themselves in ways we can only begin to understand. As a species, they rely on instinct and intuition to navigate life, living moment-to-moment with an understanding far beyond our own. Writing about this evolved way of being allows me to explore a different kind of life, one imbued with natural innocence and being in the moment as much as possible. Animals have so much to teach us, and writing about them helps me to take a mindful pause and appreciate the beauty of their existence.
Through my words, I hope to capture some of their wisdom and translate it into something relatable for my audience. Ultimately, writing about animals gives me an opportunity to gain perspective. It is a way for me to connect more deeply with the natural world around me and the creatures within it – all while appreciating the consciousness they embody.
A few years ago, I lived near a park with my dog Montana. One day, a young mom carrying a toddler approached us while we were playing. She was concerned because her child wasn’t walking yet. She asked if her daughter could pet Montana. “Sure!” I said. “First, let me walk him a few yards away. Let’s see how this unfolds.” Mom agreed, so I walked Montana away while she set her daughter gently down on the grass. I gave Montana the lay-down cue. He bowed and stretched out on the ground. Within moments the child began cooing and crawling towards him. Then something wonderful happened. The toddler woozily stood up and wobbled over. She tossed herself at him and landed on top of him, giggling. Montana unconditionally loves. Most animals do. Children pick up on the vibration of love easily and are drawn to it because Love is Love. He taught me that.
Montana also taught me a valuable lesson about nonattachment. One day we were playing fetch in Mill Creek’s cool mountain water. Any old stick I tossed into the creek; Montana would race after it like it was the most valuable possession in the world. Once he got it in his mouth, he splashed his way back, beaming with pride. He wouldn’t drop that stick willingly, even on command, because he wanted me to share in the joy:
The joy of trying to wrestle the stick away from him as he growled playfully. That was the game. No matter what stick I threw – that stick became the most important thing in the world… unless another dog happened to appear – then the stick was dropped like day-old news and the new dog became the most important thing in the world. Montana didn’t have second thoughts nor suffer internal debate on the pros and cons of dropping the stick or not dropping the stick or whether the dog would like him. Bam! He took off on the next great adventure: meeting the other dog.
There is one more teaching I do feel compelled to share with you now and it takes the prize: time.
I think my dog Montana was the most mindful creature I have ever known. He has a way of being so aware and conscious of his surroundings, that he is not separate from them; he just merges into the flow of life. It almost seems like he could sense things before they even happened. It is this intuitive way of living that taught me the most valuable lesson: to be mindful of time I have and cherish every moment. Honor everyone by honoring their time. Life gets real different.
Animals give their whole being without asking for anything in return. When we watch and listen to animals and the natural world around us we become enlightened, and life gets immeasurably better. To share their joy and learn their wisdom and to offer what I discover in this wondrous thing called life.
And that’s why I write about animals.