• LeighAnnGerk

Live Your Life Like Your Pet

Updated: Jan 22


As the New Year begins, we all want to have the best year possible. Sometimes, we don’t know how to do that or where to begin. New Year’s Resolutions can often be challenging and overwhelming. We like to keep things simple and uncomplicated, much like the relationships we have with our dear pets. So, who better to guide us into the New Year than them?

Listed below are 10 valuable life lessons we can learn from our wise, furry, family members:


1. STAY PRESENT

Living in the moment is a very important lesson we can learn from our pets. They enjoy and embrace what is happening to them at the time. They do not worry about the past or overthink the future. When your dog is sticking his head out of the car window and feeling the cool breeze on his face he is living in the moment. When your cat has spied a bird outside your windowsill she is fully embraced in the moment. We pass up so many beautiful moments by not being present. Try to stop worrying or figuring everything out all the time. Watch your pet for guidance and enjoy the beautiful scent of the rain, hear the leaves rustling in the trees and savor the taste of your favorite cup of coffee.

2. DON’T FORGET TO PLAY

Playing is not just for children and pets. Most pets love to play, and they can be quite creative. Watch how long a cat can play with an empty box or go on fun adventures up a Christmas tree. Dogs love to chase and be chased; especially if they’ve stolen your socks! Playing with your pet(s) is great fun too. Stay in the moment and watch how your pet’s eyes sparkle, their tails wag, and relish in their happiness. They love to play, and if you are being honest, I bet you do too. Playing helps relieve stress and encourages ingenuity. You can have fun right at home by dancing around the house to your favorite music or starting an unexpected water fight. Whatever it is, find what makes you laugh, have fun, and be silly. Just as old dogs and cats can at times act like puppies or kittens, join them and let your inner child out to play.

3. BE GRATEFUL

Our cherished pets are so grateful for everything we do for them. They are grateful for our time, the food we feed them, and that we have provided a warm, safe home for them. Their gratefulness is shown by their great excitement and happiness when we return home or by their endearing cuddles and kisses they so generously give us. Sometimes it’s hard to see how much we truly have to be grateful for, especially when life throws us curve balls. Please remember there is ALWAYS something to be grateful for. I often encourage my clients to think of 3 things they are grateful for before getting out of bed each day. For some, this can be difficult, so I gently remind them to be grateful for the simple things we often take for granted; the gifts of sight, health, and the opportunity to live another day.

4. FORGIVE

Have you ever forgotten to do something for your pet that you feel guilty about? Perhaps you didn’t walk your dog because you got home late from work or you forgot to clean out your cat’s litter box. You feel awful, but they act as if it never happened. That’s because they forgave you. Many rescue animals are from abusive or neglectful homes. What if they held on to their experience and never gave a new family a chance? Of course, it may take longer for some animals to feel safe again, but the beauty of it is that most of them do, and they are so happy to be loved that they have forgiven mankind for what was bestowed upon them. Forgiveness is not always easy, but it is very freeing and empowering.

5. ACCEPT WHO YOU ARE

Our pets have never wished to be anything but themselves. Big dogs don’t care if they are not little dogs, long-haired cats don’t wish they were short-haired cats. They do not look at the perfectly groomed pet on commercials with envy. THEY DON’T CARE! They don’t care if the other pets they play with live in fancier houses or have homemade meals made for them. They love who they are and recognize they are loved no matter what. If pets compared themselves to other pets, our simple relationship with them would be non-existent. Love yourself from the inside out and value your worth and uniqueness.

6. LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY

Your pet loves you no matter what. You can be in a bad mood, not feel like playing with them, or forget to give them their favorite treat, but they still adore you. You are their world and their hero. Unconditional love starts at home and starts with oneself. Be patient and kind with your thoughts. Stop the negative thinking and learn to praise and acknowledge yourself and your efforts. Be proud of you!! Loving others unconditionally can, at times, be challenging, but you will be rewarded in ways you have never imagined. Become more generous with your smile and offer up a kind gesture. Love like your pets do.

7. TAKE WALKS

Never turn down an opportunity to take a walk. It would be a rare day that your dog would ever turn down a chance to go outside and be with nature. Taking a walk is good for your soul whether you are walking your dog or walking around a park on your lunchbreak. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “a simple 10-minute walk may be as effective as a 45-minute workout in terms of reducing anxiety and depression.” The key for a peaceful walk is to find beauty in your surroundings, wherever that might be, and to leave your phone at home.

8. MAKE EVERYDAY THE BEST DAY

Our pets wake up each and every morning eager to begin their day. They get excited to eat breakfast and spend time with the person who they love more than themselves – you! They do not wake up grudgingly, dreading the day ahead. They will accept and find pleasure in whatever the day brings. It may be a quiet, relaxing day filled with numerous naps, or a day filled with new adventures. Our pets are optimists and wake up thinking “this is going to be the best day ever.” Your first thoughts upon waking up set the stage as to how your day will be. How your day transpires is ultimately your choice.

9. KEEP SEARCHING UNTIL YOU FIND WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR

How often have you played the game “hide and treat” with your pet(s)? You hide their favorite treat and when you say “go” they begin looking for it. They may dive under the couch, sniff behind pillows, or excitedly zoom up and down the stairs. This kind of determination and excitement is also needed in order for you to find what you are searching for. Take the time to think about what you want or need in your life. Do you have a calling for a specific career? What is your passion? What steps do you need to take to get there? Turn the impossible into the possible and keep digging!

10. GET ENOUGH SLEEP

Research states the average adult dog sleeps 12-14 hours per 24-hour cycle and cats sleep an average of 15 hours, but they can sleep as much as 20 hours in a 24-hour cycle. How often do you see your cat or dog sleeping throughout the day? They know when they are tired and have no problem plopping down wherever is suitable for them and taking a nap. Unfortunately, when we are tired, we rarely have that option. But what we can do to feel more rested is to make changes throughout our day to get a better night’s sleep. Try not to have more than four 8-ounce cups of coffee a day and stay away from caffeinated beverages 6-8 hours before bed. If possible, tackle your “to-do” list early in the morning and save evenings to relax and unwind. If you want to fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly find time to exercise during the day. If you need a power nap, do it before 4pm and for no longer than 30 minutes. Set an “electronic” curfew; no computer, TV, tablet or phone for at least 30 minutes before going to bed. We do not have the luxury of instant rest as our pets do, but we can learn from them and their numerous naps as to how important sleep is for our overall health and well-being.


Wishing you and your loving pet(s) a wonderful New Year!

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Leigh Ann Gerk MA, LPC

Pet Loss & Grief Companioning Certified

Office: 231 W. 4th Street, Loveland, CO 80537

Phone: 970-966-4585

Leigh Ann Gerk • Copyright 2020
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