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.

Photo by Christopher Silas Neal

My fat, cantankerous cat, Pasadena, often rolls off the couch accidentally while she’s sleeping. Every time it happens, she gets back up and struts her stuff, as if to say, “Yeah, I fell down, but I’m still awesome.” She reminds me not to take myself too seriously.

Adriana Macias

Albany, California

When Jacques, my 12-pound silver poodle, got into a tussle with a mule deer, he lost an eye. For days afterward, I was devastated. But Jacques had a different reaction. His first morning home from the vet, he got up with his tail wagging, excited to greet a new day. By moving on so quickly, he showed me that you shouldn’t hold on to sorrow when you can be happy. I’ve given him a new nickname—Jacques Sparrow—because he’s the bravest little pirate I know.

Barbara O’Grady

Gardiner, Montana

My two cats do only the things that they want to do. I, on the other hand, often agree to take on responsibilities or accept invitations that don’t interest me, simply because I can’t think of a good excuse not to. But lately I’ve tried to take a page from the Book of Kitty and say, “No, thank you,” when I wish to decline. Thanks, Stachie and Flow!

Barbara Selig

Shoreline, Washington

Living with a puppy who chewed my baseboards, destroyed my shoes, and stained my carpets made me realize that stuff is just stuff—it can be replaced. Now when anyone in the family messes up (the dog has a lapse in house-training; my fiancé breaks a plate or a mug), I simply take it in stride.

Maggie Drew

San Antonio, Texas

Wisdom from my shepherd mix, Boone: Taking a walk in the park (in any kind of weather) will always make you feel better.

Sue Elliott

Tempe, Arizona

The most wonderful things often happen unexpectedly. I’ll never forget the blustery day when I went outside to get the paper and saw a black-and-white rabbit sitting there. The Humane Society couldn’t catch her, but six weeks later I did. In no time at all, this bunny, Oreo, had me wrapped around her little paw. She has brought me so much joy and love—and I never planned on any of it.

Vickie Strayer

Omaha, Nebraska