When we rescue animals, it’s just as likely that they’re going to rescue us. That’s been true for me over the years. I’ve had as many as five dogs and as many as 13 cats, but I’m down to just one dog, Lucy, and two cats, Merlin and Thomas. (Here’s their Instagram account.)
I found an amazing example of the power of animal influence earlier today. On Reddit, someone posted a letter he received from a neighbor. This person had asked the neighbor — an older man who lives alone — to babysit the family’s two dogs and a cat while the rest of the household was on vacation.
The person who received the letter described the animals as a German shepherd and a cat (named Oreo), along with “the crankiest little beagle you’ve ever seen in your life.” But this little collection of animals somehow changed the old man’s life.
I found the man’s story moving. The letter is long, but I’m going to quote the entire thing:
“This letter is regarding your vacation two weeks ago, and how you let me babysit Smokey, Oreo, and Jennifer. I’d just like to give you a letter of thanks.
“As you know, I’m an old man. You don’t see me outside often anymore, as these joints aren’t as lively as they used to be. To add to that, two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, my dad got diagnosed with stage four colon cancer After his death, I was left alone in my home. I don’t have a wife or kids. I could go to sleep one day and never wake up again. Every day is spent just sitting around and wondering what I have done for this world.
“Until I met Smokey. Oreo, and Jennifer.
“Your pets are the cutest, funniest, and most troublesome (In a good way, don’t worry, they didn’t mess up the house too much!) individuals. They gave me the motivation to restart my life again. I started waking up early in the mornings. I began to take walks outside with your pets for the first time in years. Every 10 minutes, whenever I felt sad for a second, they would bark or rub against my leg and make me laugh.
“The highlight of their stay was when I took them to the park. It was the longest time I’ve spent outside in a while. It didn’t just bring back pet interaction, I also met other people, started talking, and made friends with a handful of fellow human beings. I was so happy to finally be able to talk with friends again, interact with others, and feel like I’m part of the human race.
“I realize I sound very existential right now, but I’m telling the truth. It’s nice knowing that I’m doing something for someone, even if it’s my neighbor.
I adopted two pet dogs soon after. (You may have been hearing noise from my home, pardon therl) I now take regular walks to the park with them and talk with friends I made there. Anyways, I’d just like to say: thank you so much. You brought back meaning to my life. And that’s all that matters,
Never doubt the power of animals to change our lives. It’s true that we can rescue them, but it’s equally true that they have the power to rescue us — and many of us are badly in need of rescue.