My dogs play many different roles in our house. Some serve higher purposes than others, but all are important.
Tyler, my youngest, and soon to be six-year-old, uses Tula, our 70-pound Pit Bull, as a “charging station” of sorts. Like a magnet, he is drawn to Tula, and proceeds to put his body as close to hers as possible. He gets a peaceful smile on his face, sometimes closing his eyes, other times whispering things in her ears or just staring into her eyes and petting her. Whatever it is, they connect. And if you have kids, grew up with pets, or have ever seen a photograph depicting the bond between a child and an animal, you know what I’m talking about. When their moment is over, he just gets up and walks away, returning to his previous activity.
My second youngest, Avery, often turns to the resident canines—using them as sounding boards to share her problems, troubles, and the injustices of life. She can also be found teaching Tula and our foster dog Monkey new tricks, training them, reading to them, or just lying next to them, soaking up their intangible yet palpable love. They have been dressed up, painted, spilled on, endured appointments at the “in- home” grooming spa, and lovingly come back for more—soaking up the attention with wagging tails.
In this issue we examine lots of different ways we relate to animals. From the Chinese belief that eating dogs brings good fortune, to legislative issues regarding puppy mills, to choosing the best pet care provider and reading pet-themed books, animals are no doubt woven deeply into the fabric of our daily lives.
Living with a pet encourages people to do just that—live. They motivate us to move our bodies and get out of the house; provide opportunities to talk with people, connect, and socialize; and make space for supportive, loving, and non-judgmental relationships.
Tula is the Sanskrit word for “balance.” We chose that name because from the moment she stepped into our home, that is what her presence offered our family. I do my best to be there for those I love, but I can’t possibly show up for everyone the moment they need me. But Tula can, and she does. She is our rock. She is the constant force in the house who is always there to listen, give or receive love, and just “be” there, as a witness to our presence. Sometimes that is all we, as humans, really want anyway: Someone to validate our existence and listen.
The TAILS mission has always been about celebrating the relationship between pets and their people. There are so many unique ways they contribute to us, but today, I am celebrating that my children have grown up knowing the magic of living with pets, and understanding that when it comes to true love, there are no words needed.
Thank you to all of the patient pets who have helped to raise so many human kids over time. You teach trust and love in a way no two-legged parent ever could—