Learning from our pets



We can learn a lot from nature, and from our pets. Many of the lessons taught by our pets are about the capacity for forgiveness and love, but there’s more we can learn if we pay attention.



I have 2 long-haired, domestic black cat roommates: “Ganny” & “Calli”. They came into my home at a time when I also had 2 dogs. The dogs have since crossed over the rainbow bridge, and the cats reign supreme as the non-humans in my home.

My grown children both have dogs, and on occasion, I dog-sit for them. When I first began to watch the dogs, I didn’t think the cats would have any issues since they were raised with dogs. But something interesting unfolded once Ganny & Calli were introduced to their canine “cousins”.


When Lucie comes over, Ganny & Calli head upstairs and take up residence under my bed. They remain there until Lucie leaves with an occasional trepidation-filled tiptoe down the stairs to view her from behind the gates that separate the downstairs from their safe haven upstairs.

It is much different when Krypto and Saturn come to my house. While Ganny & Calli are initially annoyed, they are not afraid of Krypto and Saturn. True, Lucie is bigger than Krypto and Saturn combined, but all 3 dogs live in loving homes, and are spoiled members of my children’s families.  The difference, I believe, is in the energy that is put off by each dog.

Krypto & Saturn

Krypto & Saturn

All 3 dogs cohabitate with multiple cats, but something about Lucie’s energy scares my cats into avoiding her, while they are nonplussed by Krypto and Saturn. Lucie is not coming into my home and telling them she means to play rough. Similarly, Krypto and Saturn don’t come in and announce that they don’t plan to howl and chase them (which is what Lucie does if I don’t keep the gates up!). Ganny & Calli can sense, or pick up the energy emitted by these different-tempered dogs that indicates what action is in their best interest.

People have these same abilities, but unlike Ganny & Calli, we often second guess ourselves when we get the “Lucie’s coming over” vibe – especially if we are on a spiritual journey of self-improvement.

We have all met people who caused the hair on the back of our necks to stand up, or who seemed really nice and friendly, but whom we never felt comfortable around. Sometimes this happens at work; other times in social settings where friends and others extol the wondrous qualities of Ms. Charming or Mr. Wonderful, making it harder for us to figure out what our higher self is communicating through the feeling of unease.

And the more self-aware/spiritually evolved that we are, the more likely it is that we will look inward to find some fault in ourselves when we don’t just love the Ms. Charmings or Mr. Wonderfuls that come along.

We may tell ourselves, “I must be jealous of her” or “Maybe I’m intimidated by his success” After all, look how much everyone else loves them – I must be wrong/bad/flawed.

It’s always a good idea to self-check our immediate reactions to people. As humans we do react in ways that can be attributed to jealousy, fear of not measuring up or other things that we can control and correct in ourselves.

When we do the self-work and we uncover opportunities for growth, the physical reactions we initially experienced around that person should diminish. If they do not, we should continue doing our self-work to clear out the issues we are being shown by these life teachers. But let me be clear on something here: if we’re doing the work, and this issue is all ours, the physical reactions to people will begin to diminish and with the work, over time will evaporate.

However; if we have worked, prayed, meditated and worked some more on ourselves – making good progress in similar situations with others – and yet some people still elicit the negative physical reactions when we are around them; it’s time to consider that it’s not us – it’s them.

Many years ago I worked with a group of people that I enjoyed very much. We had fun at work, and joined in activities outside of work. This was a place where people came and went a lot, so it was not unusual for our group to grow and one week a new employee came on board.

Everyone loved this person, and by all outward appearances, they were a nice person. They were polite, kind, had similar life experiences to the rest of us – one of the gang, if you will. Except that they made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

I could see that this person was well-liked by all of my friends, so I played along. I said nothing, but the gut feeling never subsided. I was earlier on my spiritual journey than I am today, but I had enough self-awareness on board that I was checking my own “issues” regularly to see what I could possibly be adding to this. Yet even with all of that self-work, I was still uncomfortable with this person.

Long story short, after about 8 months in, it was discovered that this person was stealing from the employer and doing so in such a way that some others who were NOT stealing were in danger of getting swept up in the punishment.

In this case, my gut instincts were clearly spot on and I avoided getting caught up in a legal mess by listening to my gut and keeping my distance from that person. The reasons for a sustained wariness about someone may never rise to the level of theft or other crimes, but this does not mean we should discount what our higher intelligence is telling us.

Sometimes the energy we are picking up isn’t that the person has criminal tendencies, but that their agenda is all about them, and not aligned with our best interests. Like Ganny & Calli, who don’t mind playing with the gentler, smaller Krypto & Saturn but who are frightened of what might happen with the more excitable and much larger Lucie; our higher self knows when people are using us for their own gain.

Our gut tells us when someone’s intent is to use us for their own advancement. Our higher self can see through words, fake smiles and phony niceness to an agenda that says “this is all about me“. And while the ramifications of being manipulated into doing all the work so someone else can reap the benefits are much less dangerous than being caught up in criminal activity; why would we ever spend precious time and talent to advance someone else’s life goals instead of our own?

Lucie the dog would never seriously hurt my cats. She would bark, howl and chase them all through the house eventually pouncing on them, nipping at their paws and slobbering all over them. The chase would be the highlight of her weekend and she would dream of the fun for weeks afterward. She wants them to be a part of her plan, but the question is: what’s in it for Ganny & Calli?

The answer is “not much”.

They hide when Lucie visits because they know that cooperating with Lucie means that they serve as toys for her – not equal partners. They could play along and help her achieve her goal of having fun, and while they’d not be seriously hurt by it – it sure isn’t high on their list of the way to spend a weekend. They’d be exhausted from all the running, hissing, and hiding, and covered in dog slobber. Plus, I’ve never met a dog that can leave cat food alone, so they’d also have to fight her for their own food.

Ganny & Calli instinctively know that Lucie’s goals are not on par with theirs, and so they have made the decision not to submit their time to her agenda. When we experience sustained negative, physical reactions to someone (or several someones) that cannot be tied to overt negative (criminal) activities, we may be deciding that we don’t care to spend a lot of our time and talent to entertain them and wind up exhausted while they walk away with their goals met.

I think my cats are tuned into a higher wisdom that I can learn from. If I’m going to work hard, have to fight for what’s rightfully mine, and end up with someone else’s slobber all over me; I’m going to make sure that I’m pursuing my dreams and desires – not making a way for someone else’s. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

(C) 2017 Practitioner's Path

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