Animals As Teachers

Since prehistoric times, animals have acted as companions to humans on their journey toward enlightenment. Animals as disparate in character as house pets, birds, sea creatures, and insects have been our mentors, teachers, and guides. There is much we can learn from animals, as they offer us the unique opportunity to transcend the human perspective. Unlike human teachers, animals can only impart their wisdom by example, and we learn from them by observation. An animal teacher can be a beloved pet or an animal in the wild. You may even find yourself noticing the animals in your backyard. Even robins and bumblebees have lessons to share with you.

Animals teach us in a variety of ways about behavior, habit, and instinct. House pets embody an unconditional love that remains unchanged in the face of our shape, size, age, race, or gender. They care little for the differences between us and them and simply enjoy loving and being loved. Our pets encourage us to let our guards down, have fun, and take advantage of every opportunity to enjoy life. You can also learn lessons from the animals you encounter in the wild if you take the time to observe their habits. Cold-blooded animals show us adaptability and sensitivity to one’s environment. Mammals serve as examples of nurturing and playfulness. Animals that live in oceans, lakes, and rivers demonstrate the value of movement and grace. It is even possible to learn from insects that live in highly structured communities that everyone plays a vital role.

Animals teach us about life, death, survival, sacrifice, and responsibility. If you find yourself drawn to a particular animal, ask yourself which of its traits you find most intriguing and think about how you might mimic those traits. Think of what you might learn from observing the little bird on your windowsill or the mosquito buzzing around a picnic table. Animals express themselves with abandon, freedom, and integrity. It’s natural to be drawn to the wisdom offered by our animal teachers, and in doing so, discover what is natural and true within you.

There is nothing that compares to the love and support that I get from our two dogs, Idgie and Ruth. If I so much as glance at them, they give me their complete attention. They are so excited and happy to be with me, always there to make me feel better. When I am ready to run around with them in the backyard, they are ready to go. When I want to sit down at my desk and putter on the computer, they are perfectly content laying here at my feet and napping.

It’s an old expression, I know, and not one I can claim as my own, but here it is, anyway:

Lord, help me to be the person my dog thinks I am.


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