Monday, 28 November 2011

A Friend Of A Different Kind.

A dear friend of mine, Kim and her adorable dog, CindyLu, have kindly agreed to do a guest posting on my site. You can find these two wonderful writers over at this site: CindyLu'sMuse   
Kim and CindyLu write thought provoking and informative articles that relate to the unconditional, non- judgemental love that our vulnerable friends in the animal world have to share with us.  If you have never visited the site of CindyLu'sMuse, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star and myself, highly recommend that you check it out.
Thanks Kim and CindyLu.   I am honoured and privileged that you would do a guest posting for me.  The posting is titled, "A Friend Of A Different Kind."

Gary writes regularly about the issues surrounding mental illness, emphasizing  the need to remove the stigmas attached to this subject in our society. I write regularly about animals - pets in particular - with an emphasis on the positive actions people take to improve the lot of our beloved, furry friends. Subjects miles apart? I think not. I believe that the pain and discomforts of many mental illnesses can often be eased by the love and companionship offered by one's pet.

There are a myriad of different types of pets. Any of these can offer us friendship, a sense of value, some even exercise, conversation - with an added benefit for us of improved health. Life is less lonely, more valuable, and much more fun. Although caring for a pet is not for everyone, many of us benefit immensely from sharing our lives with them.

I've had pets all of my adult life, and have always considered them a part of the family. Somehow, they were never just "mere" animals. The more time I spent with an animal, the more I felt less superior as a human. Pets forgive, forget, always afford us a second chance. Imagine if all people were that way! Pets offer complete trust, unconditional love and loyalty. How could I feel that I, as a human being, were possibly superior to that?

For the past going-on seven years now, I've volunteered for a pet rescue organization. Almost Home Foundation is dedicated to saving the lives of as many dogs and cats as it can. Sometimes we rescue pets from high-kill shelters or faraway places where there is such an overabundance of them, saving them from being euthanized. It can be a saddening, frustrating, disillusioning job at times, but because of human ignorance or greed, not because of the animals. These dogs and cats in need keep us motivated.

How did I get started in the pet rescue field? Well, It was actually because of my son. He'd been suffering through years of depression, anxiety, difficulties with school. When my neighbors (a wonderful couple dedicated to making this world better) told me about the organization they were involved in, a thought occurred to me. My son had always loved animals.

I knew that there were therapeutic benefits to spending time with animals, and thought that perhaps also by getting involved in helping dogs my son would have an activity that took his mind off his troubles. There's something quite healing about focusing on the suffering or needs of someone else less fortunate. 

He began by volunteering as a "dog handler" at adoption events. Every Saturday and Sunday, he would be assigned a dog, given all the details known about it. Then he'd spend the next four hours talking with people who wanted to know more about the dog, ensuring the dog was comfortable and on its best behavior, chatting with other volunteers, helping people in the adoption process when they chose his dog.

He loved it, looked forward to the weekends, and became impressively adept with both dog handling and many other duties for these events. It boosted his confidence, showed him he was worthy - and the affection from the dogs themselves gave him positive feelings.

I learned then the immense influence pets can have in our lives. When the organization began working with cats as well, we became a foster home. Little did I know that within two months' time, my home would be filled with litters of kittens and an occasional adult cat. My children reveled in doing what they could to help these homeless animals.

As a divorced woman with four children at home, a job and a house to maintain - one might think I was utterly nuts to be taking on these additional responsibilities. Truth is, I believe they actually saved me. Daily life was quite challenging and stressful; having these adorable creatures at home to nurture, enjoying their cute antics, the snuggles and purrs - were stress-busters. You cannot continue to feel anxious, angry, stressed...if a little furball is curling up against you, purring away.

Just like for my son, being involved with something that was much larger than just myself helped me cope with my own life's ups and downs. It gave me a wider perspective of the world, kept me from concentrating solely on myself and my worries. It afforded the chance to meet new people, make new friends. Many of these people also struggle in one way or another, and find it just as therapeutic to be a part of the organization, and in doing something good for homeless pets.

You don't have to volunteer with a pet organization in order to reap the benefits these animals offer. Just having a pet of your own can help. The unadulterated adoration and loyalty of a dog, the purring cuddles of a cat - the connection you feel with an animal of any type when you care for it, knowing you are responsible for its well-being - are all uplifting, positive reinforcements to whatever fragile part of your mind or soul is in need.

This is a difficult world we live in. Daily life can be challenging at best, horribly cruel at worst. Not one of us is perfect; we all each have our private demons we battle with. It's nice to know that we have been provided with some measure of companionship, peace and contentment - by some of God's blessed creatures...those known as "pets".


  1. I always found our cats to be such a blessing. (Until I became allergic to them that is)

  2. Hello Gary, hello CindyLu! I am so glad to read that your son found kinship, friendship and love working with dogs. I love this post! I swear if it hadn't been for my cats I doubt I'd be here now, seriously. Years ago, I was broken hearted and on the verge of ending it all when I thought "who on earth would look after my 5 cats?!!?".

    These days I share my life and home with Charlie my cat and I wouldn't couldn't think of any other way to live.

    Take care

  3. Thank you, Gary and Penny, for this pawsome opportunity to be a guest on your fabulous site! We are the ones who are truly honored.
    We send pawsitive thoughts and wishes your way for brighter days ahead for you and your son.
    In peace, always, Kim and CindyLu

  4. Oh, dear, Delores, allergies are no fun! Sure hope you found some other kind of pet to enrich your life! So happy you have the warm memories of your cats.

  5. My 2 dogs are EVERYTHING to me! They never let me leave a room without following on my heels. That's a kind of dedication you can't find anywhere else but the animal world, and dogs specifically.

    Both of my sled dogs, Maleah,a Siberian Husky, and Jack, an Alaskan Malamute, were adopted through rescue organizations specific to their breed. For the life of me, I can't understand why someone would want to throw them away. Though they each have their problems, they are both loving and devoted companions, and I simply could not get through the day without them. How many people can you say THAT about?

  6. Hi, OldKitty! Yes! They have a way of making us realize the importance of sticking around here, don't they? Charlie is a very lucky kitty, CindyLu sends a Hi-Paw to him. So happy for you to have him in your life! xx

  7. Oh, Nancy, I don't think you can say that about many humans at all! It's true about dogs and their loyalty. My daughter and son-in-law have a Siberian Husky they adopted from a shelter - *paws over CindyLu's ears* - he is the coolest dog!
    Some people just don't make any sense. That's the conclusion I've come to. Their loss has been your gain, though ;)
    Peace and paws to you and your furry family - Kim and CindyLu xx

  8. Welcome aboard the "guest speaker circuit" for Gary, and Penny the Jack Russell, modest internet star! Kim this was a heart warming piece, and I do agree with you concerning pets and their affect on us humans. Now, I do not have a pet, and at this time in my present circumstances I'm not able to have one, but when and 'if' that time should come, I know exactly the type of dog I would desire as a loving pet. It would be a Bichon Frise! While living and working in Florida, Gulf side, south of Tampa, amongst my other duties, I was hired out for pet sitting. Dogs, cats, birds, fish, but NO reptiles, thank you very much! Well one particular household had a lovely Bichon Frise, named Cosette, with whom I dearly loved and enjoyed, especially since she did not SHED! Very important for me, I can not take animal hair of any kind in my own home. I digress, since I had no time to care for my own pets due to my business, and busyness doing my business, oy is that confusing or what? LOL..anyway, I was able to get my 'pet' fix, by looking after, taking care of, and loving other people's animals, and I thoroughly loved it! An extra plus is all animals take to me very quickly, I guess they can feel the love... I love God's little creatures, with the exception of spiders....oy can I talk here! So thank you for your truthful and inspirational input. Go PETS Go! Later....

  9. LOL I agree with you, The Manic Chef, on all counts. Bichon Frise is a superb breed of dog! So adorable, so lovable and happy - definitely one to brighten your day. We'll leave reptiles and arachnids to those who genuinely adore them. ;) I will say, given the right cat, uninvited spiders in your home can be reduced greatly. Pet sitting is indeed a wonderful way to get your pet fix!
    I wish for you the day comes soon that you can have your Bichon beside you. Thank you, I feel I'm in highly esteemed company, guesting with the likes of you!

  10. What a lovely post. And every word is true. I wish I could care for a dog but I physically can't anymore, so a cat is a different but just as wonderful companion. All good things to you and yours for doing such important and loving service for our furfaced friends.

  11. Hi, Austan! A cat is most surely just as much a companion as a dog! (We won't ask CindyLu her opinion ;D) All our furry, feathery, scaled friends are special, each in their own way. Thank you so very much for your kind words! xx

  12. My mom has always found such great comfort in pets. Now that she is very old and is mentally ill, I think the dog provides her with joy that would otherwise be absent from her life.

  13. What a lovely post, and thank you, Gary, for making your blog a welcoming place for the clearly big-hearted CindyLu. She's so right about pets. They take you right out of yourself. Just think, if we could each rescue even just one . . .

  14. Dear Kim & Gary,
    Thanks Kim for this wonderful and big-hearted blog. I think what you say is very true, that caring for a pet can be an invaluable part of recovering from mental health related issues. As you say, by concentrating on the welfare of something other than ourselves, we are able to cope better with our own stress and worries. Although I don't have a pet myself (apart from my Mum- ha,ha) many mental health professionals have told me of the benefits of keeping a pet for the very reasons you describe, and the organisation you mention sounds like it does a brilliant job. Thanks for introducing me to a side of mental health I hadn't known that much about before.
    And to Gary & Penny- I hope you're looking after each other and giving each other lots of warm and fuzzies. Thank you for leting me guest post last time. I definitely "felt the love" from your many followers and commenters.
    Yours in kindness and wishing you all good health,

  15. Hi Y'all,

    What a wonderful heartfelt post.

    It just goes to prove that we don't have to be trained therapy or assistance animals in order to help our humans through the rough spots in life.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

  16. Outstanding post! I totally agree with you about the value of having pets in your lives. They really do make your lives better. :D

  17. this brought tears to my eyes. We adore Kim and we have to say that this was one of the most beautifully written pieces that we have seen of hers.

    We didn't know about her son, it broke our hearts but we are thrilled that he drew comfort from being around and caring for pets.

    We know that Kim has an immensely full plate and we are in awe of how no matter how busy she is she has time to help save and speak for the animals. She is also a damned good friend!

  18. Oh, Michael, I don't doubt for one second that your Mom's life is enriched with a loving companion that truly makes a huge difference in her days, and is profoundly better because of it. We all need someone to love and cherish, and who will return that to us. Dogs have a way of multiplying that! Best wishes to you, your mom and her dog! xx

  19. Thank you so much, Susan - and what a wonderful idea! We just might have a perfect world if that were to happen :)"Just one" - making the world of difference to that one! You are one very pawsitive person! xx

  20. LOL...David...I'm telling your Mum on you for that one! haha I am overwhelmed with honor to be a guest on Gary's blog, and in the company of your fabulous writing. Thank you, and wishing you the very best! xx

  21. Hi, Hawk! Fancy meeting you here:) BOL Yup, absolutely right, we don't have to be doing anything fancy-schmancy to be of great help to our humans. We are a positive in their life just because we are there for them. I think that's what they call friends! Take care, CindyLu xx

  22. Hi, Sharon! Well, you certainly know how great it is having a pet. Some say there just isn't anything else like it in the whole world. I agree! Thank you, best wishes to you! xx

  23. Hey, there, Caren and Cody! You're damned good friends, too! hehe Thank you so very much for your kind words. Blushing here. Well, CindyLu isn't, but that's pretty typical of Her Highness. Thanks, your words mean the world to us! Woofs and Purrs your way!

  24. Hi Gary and Kim .. what a thought-provoking read .. and I'm so pleased the animals have helped you all in so many ways.

    When I was travelling back from the States I met a mother and daughter with a Pomeranian dog .. looked like a bat to me! .. but the dog was a Special Needs dog (Minnie) and could travel with Lauren to soothe her journey ..

    I wrote a post about her and included a letter in it to Lauren .. then some info on bats .. as a youngster had been hooked on bats since he was a kid .. fascinating to read and watch.

    It's one of my very early posts!

    Animals do soothe, comfort, ensure we take some exercise of some sort - perhaps long walks with Penny or CindyLu to blow the cobwebs away ..

    They bring furry pets into the Nursing Centre for residents to see ... often rabbits! (they can't run!!).

    We had a baby squirrel one year who decided to take over the Nursing Centre one warm summer's day .. it was scampering everywhere .. thankfully it only lasted an afternoon and hasn't been repeated since. Slightly daunting with tubes and bags around .. fortunately the residents remained safe ...

    Lovely post thanks Gary and Kim .. cheers Hilary

  25. In May our Syberian husky Bandit went to live on a husky dog farm. He's a bachelor with everything still intact. To say his lot in life has improved immensely is an understatement. He has so many girlfriends now, most days you'll find him exhausted. Poor thing.

    The same week he left, my beloved cat Buster passed away. I couldn't talk about it or even tell my friends for the first 4 weeks. Even now I still get teary because I miss him so much. Never had a cat like Buster before. We used to go for walks. He came when I called him. Actually, he ran to me.

    Now we have 6 cats, all strays. Three live in the shop because Garagee (old female) won't let them in the house.

    Mental health and loving an animal? I can't imagine someone not loving an animal and being healthy in any way.

    Thanks so much for sharing, CindyLu. Hi Gary & Penny!

  26. Hey there, found you on Botanist's website. What a noble blog. Happy to meet you and follow you. :)

  27. Gary
    You are blessed with many wonderful friends. I am honored to be a follower of yours.

  28. Hi, Hilary! Yes, walks with the dog really do blow the cobwebs away - wonderful way to describe it! That's so wonderful to hear about the animals that visit the nursing centre residents; I'll bet they're a big hit. Funny you mention a squirrel, my son's friend has spent the last 3 days trying to extricate one stuck in his dashboard! Poor thing must be frightened. Take care, Hilary! xx

  29. Oh, Joylene, I'm so sorry about Buster. He sounds truly amazing! Definitely one to always remember. We like to think they leave pawprints on our hearts. :) You're obviously a good person - the strays know just who to go to. Animals can sense the best people! Best wishes to you and all your furry family xx

  30. Hi, Laila! Gary is THE best! Glad you found him - we are!

  31. R. Jacob - Gary is such a wonderful person, it's no surprise he attracts so much greatness and loyalty. We feel like you do, very honored. It's truly a privilege to know him!

  32. Hello Kim. You have shown that Blogging can rise to a superb level with this post. Of course most posts are fun-based and rightly so but there is room for a real meaningful voice - and Gary's blog is the perfect place for it! Well done.
    Click here for Bazza’s Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

  33. hi miss cindylu and mr gary! wow! cool post! i love animals and for sure what youre doing is way important. where my brother works with mental ill people they got a group thats called happy tails that comes and brings animals every couple weeks. its the coolest therapy for those clients and some that dont hardly say anything talk to the animals. hooray for pet power!
    ...smiles and hugs from lenny

  34. I enjoy reading your post. You have cute pets. Thanks for sharing it.

  35. Bazza - Hi! Thank you so very much for your kind words. What a compliment! I'm thinking Gary's blog is a wonderful place for all things good - it was a compliment in itself to have the honor of being his guest! It's great to meet you, thank you again! :)

  36. Thanks, Lenny, and you're so right about animals. It's truly amazing when people are able to open up because of them. They're so important to us in so many ways. That's awesome about the therapy group and the wonderful effect they have on your brother's clients! Smiles and hugs in return to you...and some wags and sloppy kisses from CindyLu ;)

  37. Thank you, Book Reviews. The pets say thanks, too! :)

  38. Dear Kim and Gary,
    Thank you for this heartfelt post.
    It's good to hear the positives of pets and humans sharing love. We need them as much as they need us; maybe more.
    In peace and love,

  39. Hi, Dixie - and thank you very much! You make an excellent point, and I suspect we need them more than they do us! xx

  40. Dear Kim and CindyLu,
    I want to let you know how truly grateful I am for your beautifully and profoundly written guest posting.
    I marvel at the positive interaction that has been so wonderfully displayed via the comments and your thoughtful replies back to each person.
    Indeed, this has been wondrous demonstration of the goodness that is within the great blogging community.
    Thank you so much for submitting your article while I was working through this dark bout of depression. Your gift of kindness is highly cherished.
    In peace and gratitude, your way, Gary and of course, featuring Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star :)

  41. The pleasure was all mine, Gary. The warm, caring family you have here is testament to your character, your kindness, your irresistibly charming and endearing personality. My grateful thanks to you. And Hi-Paws from CindyLu to our wondrous internet star, Penny the Jack Russell :)

  42. Hi Kim and CindyLu,
    Thanks and indeed, your heartfelt article and the heartfelt responses, was further clear and positive proof of the kind and caring interaction we can all share, for the good :)
    Warm and grateful thanks to you. Pawsitive wishes and doggy kisses, to CindyLu from Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star! xx


I do try to comment back to each commenter individually. However, I might have to shorten my replies or give a group thank you. That way, I can spend more time commenting on your blogs. Thank you and peace, my friend.