Until you have loved an animal a part of your soul remains unawakened

We both hold special places in our hearts for all the pets we have had in our life. Another thing that has bonded us is our love for animals – be it dogs; cats; horses; birds – Belle even has a big soft spot for reptiles (snakes; lizards etc). We could never understand how someone can hurt or abuse of an animal and all the stories popping up over past couple of years describing terrible cases of animal abuse have made us really sad and angry.

We have often had discussions with people who claim that animals are inferior to humans – we don’t agree of course. We have both had pets and we can not only see how smart they are but feel how much love an animal can give you. We can give a hundred and one examples of that – For example when Belle’s grandfather passed away (who she was very attached to) when lucky (her cat at the time (unfortunately lucky has died 2 years ago)) spent hours on her petting her face with her paw – she could feel the sadness that Belle felt at that moment.

In this day and age people are having trouble connecting; making new friends; finding new social groups especially with marriages breaking up when people are young; or people who return from a different country to find the social scene they used to know has changed as people have left the country; gotten married, places we used to hang out in have closed down etc. So many people suffer from loneliness – its a well known fact depression is on the rise everywhere in the world. The New York Times calls it an “epidemic of loneliness.” And yet loneliness has powerful repercussions, including earlier mortality, suicide levels for example have increased globally because of loneliness.

Many people forget that Animals are often the ones healing the wounds of loneliness in our society. Pets are often lifelines—fulfilling not just the need for company, not just the need to be loved, but our own profound need to love. Of course this applies not to people who feel they don’t have a social network. So many of us who have plenty of human companionship like us also feel a special bond with a pet. Belle has 3 gorgeous cats and a tortoise whereas Steph has a cheeky parrot that follows her around the house whenever she’s home.

Their presence alone is enough to calm someone down, to give you warmth, to let you feel loved and soothed. Those of you who do have pets know that if you’re home sick your pet won’t leave your side until he or she is sue you are feeling better. Another example is companion dogs trained to recognise panic attack who help army veterans in their struggles with anxiety. Horses are being used in therapy for troubled teens and suffering adults. Companion or service animals help all kinds of individuals with special needs—providing care that we humans can’t or won’t give one another. In Malta we are seeing an increase in the amount of service animals around – in fact nowadays even more restaurants and bars are catering to having animals inside. More and more people – with or without anxiety or special needs – are feeling the need for “emotional support animals.”

We can clearly see how beneficial a pet or even a service animal is when treating mental health yet we still use language like “stop acting like an animal” – as if animals were somehow beneath us. When in fact science has shown that many animals are actually very advanced.

No other animal destroys its environment as the human being does. In fact, in their natural state, each creature contributes to the overall ecosystem, helping maintain balance on the planet. So the question we should start asking ourselves here is: Do we continue to take part in the human destruction? Or do we start acting like other animals and create balance around us? Maybe if we started loving everyone and greeting everyone with warmth like a Labrador would do the world around us would be a much better place

If you really look at animals – any animal be it a horse; a lion; a monkey or a penguin, you see that they don’t crave more than they need, they don’t take more than they require, and they don’t destroy anything unnecessarily out of greed.

If you have had pets in your life, you know that each animal has its very own distinct personality, and an immense capacity for love and gentleness. Protective, caring, playful, sad, angry—all of the emotions we see play out in ourselves we also see in our animals. So maybe its time for us to start acting a little bit more like these creatures instead of being so selfish.

It takes boldness to go against the grain, to live with compassion, to see nature and the animals in it as deserving of life, not just as commodities here to serve us. But most of all, it takes heart. Animals have an incredible ability to empathize with one another, to help one another, to feed one another – Belle’s cats even wash one another. All of our most beautiful characteristics—compassion, kindness, and love—exist in animals too. It is we who stand to learn from them, not the other way around. If you have room in your heart for some more love and place in your home – adopt a pet at the moment there are many kittens in need of homing and many sanctuaries completely full with dogs who need re – homing. If you are lonely and want to feel loved – adopt a pet – make your life better