Friday, February 26, 2010

Through the Eyes of a Pet

Since we are working on self love this week, I thought it might be a good time to reframe the way we look at ourselves. How about an experiment? Look at yourself through the eyes of your pet.

If you've ever had a dog or a cat or some other animal that you loved and bonded with, you know that pets can be quite devoted. My little dog, an 8 pound poodle Pomeranian cross, worships the ground I walk on. We got him 11 years ago as a Christmas present for my little boy, and he does love all of us, but he just adores me. That dog would walk on hot coals to get to me, and the way he looks at me is with complete love and acceptance. Do you think it has ever crossed his mind that I am too fat? Do you think when he sits on my lap he is thinking, "Geez, she could stand to drop some of this padding"? How about when I was 278 pounds? Do you think he loved me less?

I've written before about how I was tormented by a bully relentlessly in grade school, but I haven't written about what kept me sane during that time. It was my cat, Puddy. I was probably 8 years old when I found her walking in the tall grass in a field one day, her long brown tail poking up like an antenna so that I could find her in the virtual jungle. I was an animal lover; we had a large dog that belonged to my father, but our landlord had forbidden cats. When I brought the stray home, my parents said we'd try to find her a home but we could not keep her. But I was in love; I waited outside until I saw the old, sun-wrinkled landlord in his overalls driving his rusty farm truck down to the barn to feed his cattle. I ran down to him, half afraid, climbed the white wooden fence and quietly told him I'd found a kitten, and couldn't I please keep her? He glanced at me from under his dirty cap as he swung a hay bale from the barn, and said, "I suppose." That was enough. I ran gleefully to my parents, told them I had 'permission' to keep the cat, and took her out of the box she'd been napping in. "You're mine!" I said as I snuggled her in my lap. "I love you!"

I named her Puddy after the phrase Tweety Bird used to say about Sylvester in the old cartoons: "I tawt I taw a puddy tat!" She didn't mind the silly name; she was just happy to have a home. She was a beautiful brown tabby. We let her in and out as she pleased, as we lived in the country. Every day after school, after the hellish nightmare of being teased and taunted by that bully, I'd come home, walk in the door, and ask my father, "Is the Puddy in or out?" And off I'd go to find my friend... my solace.

She slept on my bed every night, on my feet. She'd purr me to sleep. I'd hold her and sob when I was sad. I'd play with her and she'd make me laugh. And even though that mean girl at school was ripping my self esteem to shreds, I knew I was really okay because Puddy loved me. Puddy didn't think I had a "pale face" and she didn't notice care if I had glasses. She never called me a "four-eyed freak" and she never cared if I was shy. She accepted and loved every bit of me, as I was right then. And since I had such complete acceptance from her... I knew I was not such a bad person after all. Oh the innocence and trust of a child. She was my best friend.

One time we went on vacation for two weeks, and my parents arranged for a neighbor to care for Puddy. When we came home, I ran about, calling, "Puddy! Puddy! Here kittykittykitty!" But she did not come running as she usually did. I frantically searched for her, and then saw the neighbor boy down the road. "Have you seen Puddy?" I asked. And he said, "Oh, I think she got hit by a car." I was hysterical, I ran around screaming. I went in my room and cried like the world had ended. My parents quickly talked to the neighbor who said they had not, in fact, seen anything bad happen to my cat, but they had not seen her in a few days.

Every day I went looking for her. Every day I'd sit and stare out the windows. I'd go out the attic window onto the roof and watch for her for hours. A week went by. My parents gently told me she was probably gone. I started to believe it.

Then one day I was staring out the screen door when I thought I heard a faint mew. I perked up. There it was again! I tore out of the house calling, "Puddy? Puddy? Here kittykittykitty!" and then I saw her up in a tree in out backyard, meowing. The joy was indescribable as I reached up and got her down and into my arms. My best friend was home.

And the years went by, and she adored me unconditionally, which probably kept me from becoming a suicidal child from the bullying. And then one day I came home from school and asked, "Is the Puddy in or out?" And my father said she was gone. He had found her on the road. She really had been hit by a car this time. My mother told me years later how devastated my father was, cleaning up my beloved cat off the road before I'd come home from school and see it. Thank god he did that. I cannot imagine.

Our pets, they are so much more than animals. They trust and love, they see US and not just our bodies. They never put us down or judge us. When we make a mistake they forgive. When we are hard on ourselves they just keep on snuggling up to us, purring or licking us or wagging their tails to let us know we are perfect just the way we are.

Try to look at yourself through the eyes of a pet. See the good in you, overlook the little flaws. Love yourself without fail. Let the criticism go for awhile and just embrace and accept. Be your own best friend.

34 comments:

Katy said...

This is such an awesome post and so true.

-J.Darling said...

I can identify with this. When I was divorced in 2006, it was my worst fear come to life. I didn't know how I'd make it through. Knowing that my dog needed me was the only thing that got me out of bed in the mornings. And once I was out of bed, living one breath at a time, Clydas (my boxer dog) gave me great companionship. Sure, the condo my ex-and I bought (and I lived in) was about the foreclosed on, but I wasn't alone. Whatever happens in this crazy life, I always feel better when I give Clydas a good scratch and reassure him "It's just you and me buddy. We'll do just fine."

In truth, I guess I was reassuring myself. Now I'm not ready to take the leap of marriage again, but I'm definately far from those days where Depression threatened to swallow me whole. And I don't think I would have made it through w/o my best bud. :)

Seren_Sighs said...

Pets just don't care if you're large or not. I'm sure they see it. Surely they can see a bit that someone is taller than another person and someone is larger than another person. But why should it matter to them?

I also notice that pets don't really seem to get upset if they themselves are overweight. My dog doesn't seem depressed because he's a little on the fat side. And I've certainly never seen a cat think they were any less regal just because they were fat.

Seth said...

Pets always make things better.

Ms. PJ Geek said...

Thank you for this post. It is bringing warm fuzzies and love to so many people to think about our beloved pets and their love and acceptance of us.

bbubblyb said...

What a lovely story Lyn, my Samma girl passed away last night and I know exactly how you feel when it comes to our beloved pets. We love them so much and they love us and we miss them so much when they are gone.

Karen In Tennessee said...

Lyn, that might be my favorite of all your blog entries. What a beautiful bittersweet story. And I too think that the unconditional love that I get from my pets has more than once been my lifeline when suicide crossed my mind.

Thank you for sharing your story...and to cat and dog owners everywhere: keep your pets inside or in a safely fenced area and spay and neuter your pets!!!

Tracy said...

Such a touching post, Lyn! I'm glad you had Puddy to make things just a little bit better. {{hugs}}

Diana B said...

Lyn, this is writing at its finest and powerful enough to reach the hardest of hearts. So, so true. Truly one of your best posts!

isladeangela said...

I have a dog that loves me like I'm perfect, too. I never thought of myself as a dog person until we adopted Cooper. Next time my self-talk get ugly - I'm going to try to see myself through Cooper's eyes. Great post! ~ Angie

Miss Marvelous said...

This is a great post. I remember growing up how my pets were sometimes my only "emotional support" that I had. To this day, I can't imagine living without that.

Margie M. said...

If we love our pets, they will love us in return...unconditionally.

Margie M. writes at:
www.myhealthylivingthruweightcontrol.blogspot.com

Jennifer said...

Beautiful, just beautiful. Poor Puddy, but you definitely made his life better, just like he made yours better! You have such a big heart, Lyn. :) I hope you're feeling better by the way.

Jennifer said...

I meant SHE made your life better...no disrespect intended, Puddy. lol

Christie said...

I have two awesome dogs who totally adore me. It's pretty amazing how excited they get *every day* when I get home from work. I know they are just my dogs but man I love them :)

Christie said...

By the way, I clicked over to the link to the other post about your dad and it was so touching. You really made me think about how little time I spend with my dad and how limited our lives really are. Thanks for the reminder - I'm going to hang out with my dad tomorrow.

Run, Heat, Run said...

I read this and not only had to go snuggle my beagle, I had to call my dad. :) Thanks for a wonderful post.

beerab said...

Your post was so beautiful and so sad :( I'm so happy you had so many wonderful years with Puddy.

I love and have loved all my pets. It's the funniest thing but my first dwarf hamster, Marshmellow (yes Mellow cuz he was white and a lazy butt), was my little angel. I'd call out to him and he'd RUN from his little hut to me each day :) He loved hanging out with me too. He lived to be 21 months old (OLD for a dwarf hamster) and even when he got arthritis I spent a fortune on the vet and pain meds that I'd feed him each day, and finally when he got to the point where he couldn't walk anymore from the arthritis and I'd have to clean him of his soilings two times a day- I put him down. I cried my eyes out and told him I was sorry- but he looked at me like "I know you love me, I love you too, but I'm ready to go." UCK I'm crying now :( I know he loved me unconditionally. Now as I sit watching my green cheek conure (Broccoli is her name) play and cuddle with me- I know she also loves me unconditionally :)

Deb said...

Thanks for this post. I have to go smooch my pooch now. :-)

Julia said...

Great post and so true - they love unconditionally whateverr our flaws.

skinnyhollie said...

Just saw a post on FaceBook... I am starting the Medifast, too, and will also be blogging about it. We will have to keep in touch as we go through this!

globalmom said...

Thanks for the great post. I know my poodle would love me at any size, but I know he especially appreciates my soft, cushy LARGE lap. He jumps up there any chance he can!

Anonymous said...

I love animals, and really identified with this post. My dog is a great personal trainer. She LOVES going for runs with me. She scampers all over and smiles (she does) as we get ready, and loves every second of the run. She doesn't care where we go, how I look, or how slow I go, as long as I go! It is hard to hate running when I see how much she enjoys it...or to feel bad about myself when she looks at me like I'm her hero for taking her for a slow jog around the block.

Sib said...

WOW... what an awesome post!!

LauraA said...

This post made me tear up. People often think of cats as aloof, but cat lovers know how much love and happiness they can bring to your life.

Diana said...

Well, that made me cry! But such a sweet, loving story, and I can totally relate. As I'm typing this right now I have my Mickey Mouse on my lap, draped over my arms (my kitty). I can't imagine life without him. Even though my work is hell lately, I come home and this little guy worships me. Follows me from room to room and is in my lap the minute I sit down. How can I be a bad person with this kind of unconditional love. :)

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Zin said...

Oh! I can so relate to this story. Pets are a blessing.

MsMagnetism said...

All I can say is great post as the tears are streaming down my cheeks. I can relate.

Anonymous said...

Our pets love us, just as we are. I lost my gorgeous girl cat just before Christmas and I miss her so much. She was there when I got divorced and always around as my three children grew up. She sat with me and listened through some of my most awful times...through divorce and family problems and did her best to comfort me when I cried. If only cats could talk...She knew what was going on in my life and loved me even when I was distracted and upset.
It's unconditional love, and I get that from the ginger boy cat left behind. We all cried for the loss of our old girl..even my grown up children.

It's funny. At home we can just 'be' and get on with things just as we are. Our pets don't judge us. Outside I feel self-conscious. I know I don't look good in my clothes any more and agonise about what others are thinking when they look at me and hold their gaze for those few seconds too long.

We have to take love where we can find it, and it's good for us to lavish love on others - and our pets - too. Thank goodness for pets. I am sure if my boy cat could talk he'd reassure me that I am lovely just as I am.

Yes...we have to try to be nice to ourselves too. We are more than our rolls of fat! :-)

DBDee x

screwdestiny said...

Wonderful post. My boyfriend doesn't quite understand why I love my cat as much as I do, but she's always been there for me, when I was lonely, when I was miserable, and she does love me unconditionally.

I'm sorry your cat was hit by a car. It's great that you have another loving pet now.

Laura said...

The bond between humans & animals are incredible

Momma Hunt said...

I 100 percent agree. After I first got married five years ago we adopted a Doxie and I became his person. He followed me around, loved me, made everything just a little bit better. Sad to say that he developed a life threatening disease and we had to put him down just at a time when I was really going through some personal stuff. I think I missed him more than anything or anyone. We were suppose to adopt another dog this summer, but our plans for adding to our family came a bit early, so the new puppy love of my life is on hold while we get the hang of this two kid thing (although I still really really want a new puppy)

Linda said...

I can so relate to this post. i have a 11 year old cat who i got the day he was born, my next door neighbours cat had babies and i picked him (obviously didnt get him til they were old enough to leave their mum lol) but i went and visited everyday til then. and i was bullied and was suicidal all throughout school. but when i walked in the door and my cat came running to me, or was sitting at the door waiting for me i just never had it in me to leave him. its kinda weird i never felt like that about my family.but whenever my cat was with me i just couldnt bear the thought of him being all alone if i was gone. like who would look after him, would they treat him good, would he be scared without me. and always just put those thougths aside for another day.
i have those moments of when i get home and he doesnt come running i panic and think the worst, but so far he's always come home without being hurt.