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What Has Your Pet Taught You About Life?

No wonder dogs—not to mention cats, birds, and bunnies—are man’s best friend: These loyal, lovable creatures are also surprisingly wise. This month, readers share lessons from the animals who rule their roosts.

Illustration of a poodle with an eye patchChristopher Silas Neal

I learned from my cats that you should stretch before you get up, especially if you’ve been lying down or sitting for a long time. Try it: Your bones, muscles, and mind will thank you.

Tammy Murphy

Maynard, Massachusetts

Last August we lost our four-year-old dog, Sandi, to a sudden illness. We were so sad. Recently, though, we brought a new puppy, Lucy, into our lives. She has made us realize that even while you grieve, it’s possible to share your love with someone new.

Kathi Banholzer

Glen Allen, Virginia

It’s essential to chase what excites you, even if you never catch it. That’s something I learned from all eight dogs I’ve been lucky enough to call my pets.

Shannon A. Clements

Dearborn, Michigan

Whenever I call for my dog, Casey, he takes the longest route possible. This serves as a nice reminder that I shouldn’t opt for shortcuts. Because of Casey, I park far away from store entrances and take the stairs instead of the elevator. It’s good for me, and it allows me to spend less time at the gym.

Susie Reeves

St. Louis, Missouri

My family raises service dogs for an organization called Canine Companions for Independence. We train the dogs and then they’re given to people with disabilities. People always ask me how we can give up these dogs after bonding with them for 18 months. I tell them that the difference the dogs will make in others’ lives is well worth the heartache. These pups have shown me that the greatest gift in life is giving.

Tory Cheshire

Great Falls, Virginia

Never pass up an opportunity to have a little something to eat.

Lauren Spengler

Cambridge, Massachusetts

I never worried about my cursing until my African gray parrot, Mojo, let loose an expletive, which he had clearly learned from me, while a preacher was paying me a visit. I was horrified and embarrassed. I thought, If this bird is picking up my bad language, what must my young son be taking in when I speak? Thanks to Mojo, I’ve tried to be more careful with my words.

Lucette Lucas

Liberty Hill, Texas

Read More About:Pets

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