Mirror, Mirror, on the Leash?
There may be a re-occurring subject that I will write about several times during this 177-day project. In fact, I have already mentioned these subjects a few times already and I am only on my 8th day. But this post is dedicated to the four-legged friends in our lives (I sound like I’m doing a song shout-out). Animals create health. And I write about animals often because of how healthy they are. Now, I could start quoting study after study about the measurable, beneficial health effects that animals have had on people (try Googling it), but I think if you look around, it is easy to see the health benefits constantly at work. Pets increase their owners’ physical activity; animals are arguably the only species in our lives who love us unconditionally (sorry parents, I think the family dog might have you beat); furry friends provide companionship to those who lack company; but most of all, the Unexpected Health insight is that animals are mirrors for us, and having the ability to see ourselves is essential for health.
My dog, Lucca, has been a mirror for me since the moment I rescued her nearly three years ago. For anyone who has ever rescued an animal, you may have learned what I discovered; sometimes these rescue animals come with loads of baggage. Let’s see, packed in Lucca’s luggage was (who am I fooling? Her baggage is anything but past tense): separation anxiety; aggressiveness toward tall, dark-haired men with baseball hats (which consequently is exactly my “type”…lucky me!); extreme protectiveness; and to top it off, she is–hand’s down–one of the most hyper creatures I have ever laid eyes on. But, I love her. With all of her wild personality “quirks” I will call them, she is also the most loyal, the most loving, and the most hilarious dog I have ever laid eyes on. She smiles, she talks, and her carob-chip eyebrows show expression that is almost human-like.
Lucca–and any animal for that matter–is a mirror: she is a reminder that in imperfection is perfectness. For some (actually, probably for most), Lucca’s individuality would be too much for a person to handle. She could be considered what some would call, high maintenance. But for me, she fits perfectly snug into my life. What I used to call her “baggage” have actually become blessings. Lucca’s protectiveness scared away a questionable man who approached me. You better believe THAT guy won’t be coming my way any time soon! Her separation anxiety prompted me to learn about holistic animal health (sidenote: I highly recommend Animal Rescue Remedy), and her hyperactivity led me to discover the wildly vast, leash-optional Open Space, which has become my stomping grounds for inspiration. If Lucca would have exhausted herself and been content with the local dog park (which I can’t blame her…they bore me too) , I may have never discovered my outdoor playground. Lucca mirrors an essential healthy component to life: acceptance.
Animals really are the same as people in some ways. Certain personality traits complement others; what one person absolutely cannot live with, another absolutely cannot live without. When we accept people–and animals–for who they are, we are free to live life as we are intended to. When we can close our judgemental eyes, we unshackle the constraints that we put on others and ourselves. Health is about accepting ourselves, our family, our friends, our dogs…just as they are. I know this is not easy. In fact, I may have just lost readership. But as we are able to better accept each other, we create compassion, love, and of course, health, in our lives. And if short- or long-term memories fail us, animals will mirror for us that when we accept others, we receive love from all over…especially from our friends at the end of the leash. -Until tomorrow, Jaime
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