Pets are the most unique teachers. I learned this when I was a young girl. My sister and I were the neighborhood pet rescue team. All strays we would bring home with us. Stray cats or stray dogs all found a refuge at our house until their owners were located or until the SPCA was called.
Every stray was given lots of love, water and food and a warm dry place to sleep. Most of the strays were mutts so my mother’s rule was that the owner needed to be found and that we had four weeks to do so. After four weeks the SPCA was called to pick the stray up. This was meet with a lot of tears and begging to give us more time. Sometimes she would relent and give us a little more time. However, three weeks before Christmas we found and brought home a beautiful short-haired dachshund the four week rule was not evoked.
Mom said, this is a special dog; a pure breed, not a mutt. She asked if they were any tags or a collar on the dog. Nope! None. We had seen the dog wandering in the street and called the dog over to us to get her out of the street. We did not want to see her get hit. Mother said she must have slipped her collar and that we needed to put up flyers around the neighborhood and especially in the area where she was found wandering about.
We created a flyer that a dachshund had been found with lettering that could be seen and read by passing cars. It also included a space for a drawing that I was hoping could be included in the flyer. This was the pre-pre-computer era. Not only did it say we were looking for the owner, we also put down our phone number. This dog was so well behaved that she would sit and let me draw her. Now we needed to figure out a way of including this on the flyer.
We took the flyer and picture down to the High’s Store to get copies made. The man who owned the High’s asked us how many copies we wanted and of course how much money did we have to pay for the copies. Between the two of us we had less than a dollar and we needed at least 50 copies. We were short. The High’s Store owner (I really don’t remember his name. Something I regret and maybe Lindy remembers), said that he could print maybe 30 for us and that would include the first copy and a resizing of the drawing in order to include it on the flyer. That would have to do, so we said ok and gave him what money we had.
He disappeared into the back and when he returned he gave us the original flyer and picture back, but he also handed us 50 flyers. He said the extras were on him and wished us luck in finding the owner.
We put the flyers up all over the neighborhood. The little dachshund was with us all during the Christmas Holidays and in some ways we were hoping that no one would claim her. But the day after Christmas the phone rang and a man said he thought we had found his dog. Mom asked him what type of dog he lost and what color was the dog’s fur. He came to our house and when the little dachshund saw him she leaped into his arms. There was no doubt that this dog was his pet. He thanked us for finding his baby and that she had slipped under the fence and all she left behind was her collar. He was so worried that he had lost her forever until he saw the flyers and the picture made him so happy. He knew that someone had found his dog and was taking good care of her.
He asked my mother if she was the one who drew the picture and she said no – not her – pointed to me – she is the one who draws. He asked if I had the original. Of course I did and went and got it for him. He asked if he could have it and I said yes, of course. It was a picture of his dog. With this he reached into his pocket and handed me twenty dollars. My first paid commission.
After that I included pictures on every flyer. Sometimes the owners would ask if they could have the picture, but some did not. Mom insisted that I could not ask for money for the drawings. It was one thing if they offered, but if they did not I was to accept that and just give them the picture. Thus, I learned that if they did not ask, they were not interested and I kept the picture. If they asked I always gave the picture and some would always give a little something as a thank you. But, the most important thing I learned was that every pet knows who loves them. That when they are lost that they are attracted to people who will give them love and they return that love as their way of saying thank you for keeping them safe.
As a pet portrait artist I have learned a lot from the pets and their owners. The greeting tells me a lot about the owner and the pet. Owners that are friendly have friendly pets. Pets reflect their owners. They reflect how their owner is feeling that day. Just from the way a pet is acting I can tell if the owner is having a good day or not.
Think about it. As a pet owner have you ever noticed when you are not feeling well, or you feel sad or frustrated or whatever is not making this a good day how your pet (cat or dog or both) wants to comfort you. Your dog follows you from room to room and when you sit down if they are small they jump into your lap. A big dog will lay his head in your lap. Your cat will wait till you sit down and in that moment you have a cat in your lap. You think they are asking to be petted and so you pet them. But, in that process of petting them you start feeling better, calmer and happier.
Pets are wonderful companions and they have a way of making us feel special, tell us how important we are to them and fill our days with unconditional love . That is why we should all work to make sure that all pets find loving, caring homes.
Feel free to share your thoughts and comments about your pets and how they have changed your life.