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Awareness Magazine
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PET CORNER

Your Spiritual “Fur Person” and the Environment

 
By Allen and Linda Anderson
 

If you think of animals as spiritual companions, as we do, it’s easy to recognize their presence in our lives leading to a higher regard for nature. In general, animals help people to become more loving and compassionate. They are angelic instruments and messengers who stimulate spiritual growth and love for all life, including a respect for the environment.

No matter how loving, spiritual, and intelligent you animal companion is, he or she also affects the environment. According to CarbonOn.ME in the article, “Your Pet’s Environmental Footprint” http://www.carbonon.me/calculating-your-pets-environmental-footprint/, knowing a couple of facts and taking on a few tasks can help anyone with a pet to offset the pollution their animal companion makes. For example, the article suggests such things as using recycled cardboard and newspaper as bedding for small animals — rabbits, hamsters, and gerbils.

And don’t forget about those biodegradable poop bags for dogs and cats. The average dog produces about 270 pounds of feces a year. Even if dog waste and kitty litter are disposed of correctly, they can add to landfills.

Consider offsetting the carbon footprint of your pets by participating in environmentally-friendly activities. Donate to forest or wetland restoration, plant trees, and recycle. Simple methods of paying-it-forward are effective ways for giving back to nature, not only for you but also for your pets.

Overcoming a Fear of Dogs

But what if the environment you are trying to replenish and enrich is not only a physical landscape? When Allen did a radio interview recently, he found out that spiritual connection with animals helped to restore emotional balance for the program host and her son. Allen tells his story below.

I recently did a radio interview and got to do what I love, which is to talk about my book, A Dog Named Leaf. I always enjoy sharing with anyone who will listen to me about how my little cocker spaniel and I survived challenging times as a spiritual team. Both Leaf and I became better and more loving because of our experiences together. I talked about the joy and comfort a person receives by having the unconditional love of a dog and gave examples of how Leaf’s presence made my and his life better.

On the air, the host said she had grown up in an environment where her mother taught her to fear dogs. To this day, she would be afraid to have a dog as a pet. She added that without knowing better, she had instilled that same fear in her son who is now 10 years old. As we chatted during the interview about the book and my experiences, the radio show host began to understand how much she and her son are missing out on by not having a dog join their family.

I talked about how animal shelters are always looking for volunteers. Volunteering often helps people who cannot have a dog for some reason or may be concerned over the cost of adoption.

The host said that, as we talked, she realized it was time for her to move forward and past her deep, lifelong fears. Both she and her son were going to volunteer a couple of hours each week at their local animal shelter. They could become more accustomed to and less fearful by being around all kinds of dogs and experiencing firsthand the different characters and doggy personalities.

What a satisfying interview that was for me, the host, and hopefully, for her listeners. What a tribute it was to the power of pets to open up a world of love.

Animals Inspiring Preserving the Environment

Animals instill love for the environment just by their examples of living full lives within their natural surroundings. Most people would agree that Jane Goodall is one of the world’s most respected naturalists. Spending years of her life observing chimpanzees and writing eloquently about her experiences with them has inspired millions to renew respect for the earth, all its creatures, and the ecosystems that support human and animal life.

When people love animals and are determined to express it, they can become invincible in their pursuit of wisdom about life. Jane Goodall’s love for chimps in the forests of Gombe catapulted her into becoming a respected spokesperson for protection of endangered species and advocate of animal welfare causes.

The pristine Tanzanian forests offered Jane an exquisite peace and tranquility. In a passage from her classic book, Reason for Hope, she writes about the spiritual benefits the close contact with animals gave to her. “On an open, grassy ridge the chimps climbed into a massive mbula tree, where Fifi, replete from the morning’s feastings, made a large comfortable nest high above me. She dozed through a midday siesta, little Fanni, asleep in her arms, Frodo and Freud playing nearby.

How healing it was to be back in Gombe again, and by myself with the chimpanzees and their forest. I had left the busy, materialistic world full of greed and selfishness and, for a little while, I could feel myself as in the early days, a part of nature.”

Humans turn to animals for comfort, playtime, serenity, unconditional love, and a number of other spiritual qualities we can’t find as readily from any other source. We nourish and rescue animals and receive blessings in return. Whatever we do for nature and the environment sews seeds of golden nourishment for us — and the animals.

 

Allen and Linda Anderson are co-founders of Angel Animals Network and authors of a series of books about the spiritual connection between people and animals, www.angelanimals.net. Their newest book is A Dog Named Leaf: The Hero from Heaven Who Saved My Life, www.adognamedleaf.com