By Linda Cole
I’ve rescued quite a few dogs and cats over the years, most of them wandering strays that were lost or abandoned. Some were healthy despite their life on the streets, and some were a little rough around the edges. A handful had been abused in one way or another. The one thing all of them had in common was their ability to leave the past behind and move on with their life. Humans may be the smarter species, but it’s the animal world that has an unbiased ability to forgive.
Most of us learn at an early age that life isn’t exactly fair. We experience setbacks, have missteps, broken promises or shattered relationships that can cause us to lose faith in other people. Things happen, and no matter how hard we try, we can’t control everything that occurs in life. When we feel vulnerable, our tendency is to focus on what made us feel bad, find someone else to blame or hold a grudge. Forgiving a wrong can be hard to do sometimes.
Our pets on the other hand, have the ability to forgive us if we make mistakes when dealing with them. Of course it’s not the same type of forgiveness we give to another person, but dogs and cats don’t hesitate to give us the benefit of the doubt when a human mistreats them or unfairly punishes them. Animals don’t translate the failings and mistreatment given by one human to mean all humans are abusive or unfair. We get a pass if we lose our temper and yell, as long as it’s not on a regular basis. No matter what kind of treatment a dog or cat experiences, they don’t hang on to the past, hold a grudge or complain. What happened in the past is not relevant for creatures that live in the present. However, gaining their trust may be harder to do if their trust was violated.
By Julia Williams
Last night my cat sauntered into my office and began dragging her behind across the carpet. I’ve seen dogs do this but never a cat, and certainly not my prissy baby girl Belle. I was aghast. I picked her up and discovered that an immediate bath was in order. Now, given that most cats loathe water, a bath is not something one attempts even under the best of circumstances. A bath on the spot was foolhardy, but I was in panic mode. I wasn’t about to set this cat down on the carpet again.
I hurried into the kitchen, carrying her outstretched as though I was holding a ticking time bomb, for in a way I was. I grabbed a bath towel and proceeded to run water as fast as I could. Belle writhed in fear and tried to scratch her way out of my grip and the impending immersion. I hastily placed her in the water and washed her, she all the while clawing at me and meowing pitifully, desperate to get out. I toweled her dry and she ran off to sulk under the table. A little while later, attempts to coax her out with FELIDAE Tidnips proved unsuccessful. I felt awful because in hindsight I didn’t handle this well, and I know I frightened her.
I was worried she’d stay mad at me, and that I had damaged our incredibly close and loving relationship. But it was done; I couldn’t unring that bell. Amazingly, when I went to bed a few hours later, Belle came in and curled up next to me by my pillow, as she does every night. And this morning, she came in and crawled up to get her hugs and love, as she does every day. She wasn’t mad anymore, and I hadn’t negatively impacted our relationship. Whew.
I think this happens to every pet owner at some point, because we’re not perfect and we screw up. We do things that our pets have every right to be angry at us for. We do things unintentionally that, if it had been a human, they might never speak to us again, because humans hold grudges and pets do not. Hold a person down and force a pill down their throat or shove them into a sink full of water – how long do you think they would stay mad at you? Longer than an hour or two, for sure.