The Blessing of the Animals

They bring you solace in hard times. They crave your touch and quicken to your smile, and they make you want to give and give and give. Four writers share how their significant animal others inspire and heal

by Catherine Newman, Lauren Slater, Mira Bartok, Jo Ann Beard
cat lying on couch image
Photograph: Phil Toledano

Because sometimes it does. Just this week, between the beginning part of the story and this ending part, a couple came to the shelter and saw Daisy rolling in sad ecstasy at my feet. They were grieving for their old dog and just beginning to look, but they came back the next day and the day after, and the day after that she went home with them. So last night Daisy slept on a cushion in a warm house, and this morning she woke to love and toast in a bright kitchen.

Think about the joy you felt when you read that, and think about how much more elated you would feel if you knew her and met the wonderful couple, and if you knew all the other dogs and had walked them and talked to them and let them lean up against you, and if you were there to see Rufo with his head out the window the day he was driven north to his new home in Massachusetts. Because it’s not about how to stand the grimness; it’s about how to stand the joy.

JO ANN BEARD teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and is a volunteer at the Yonkers Animal Shelter. Her latest book is the novel In Zanesville.

Next: Starting an Exotic Animal Sanctuary

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First published in the Decmeber 2012/January 2013 issue

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