The community we breed

Jennifer with niece Jadyn

Jennifer with niece Jadyn

My neighbor Bob and I raced to collect the recycling bins today.  Our little game of ‘First One There Puts Them Away’ randomly started long ago.  Bob is more of a morning person than I am, so he often beats me to it.  Wanting to do my part, I try to be ‘First One There’ as often as I can.

Anyway!  Today’s silly little footrace got me thinking . . . . I am blessed with great human beings next door on both sides, and we’ve had many years of being neighbor-family.  Naturally, just like parents of human kids, we’ve shared many life moments involving our animals.  We celebrated the day Bob and Kathy brought butterball Rudy the Golden home, a living teddybear.  Many years later my hands would join the others lifting Rudy in for his last ride, on his way to rest after a catastrophic stroke.

One of the magical times was the arrival of Diane’s Sophie.  A beautiful calico rescue who now rules not only Diane’s home but much of the neighborhood, Sophie is our cover girl for the “kitty issue” next month.  Sophie’s arrival was especially important, as she brought life and joy to Diane’s home after she’d lost her husband.

Years before Sophie arrived, Diane and her wonderful husband John had a beloved yellow Lab named Sugar.  Once when they were overseas, Sugar stayed home, where she fared better than in a home not her own.  Checking on Sugar once while they were away I found her lying in the dim, too-quiet living room, head up but stock still, her sad gaze locked on the front windows.

Since she’d already had a little stroke I was concerned about Sugar’s health in John and Diane’s absence.  So I gradually coaxed her to spend time with my pack, in a process that took numerous trips over a couple of days.  Day one she followed me to her back gate.  Day two, to mine.  Then she came to my back slider, and finally, in for lunch and many more visits to come. 

Sugar was a regular at our house ever after, sometimes for lunch, other times just hanging out when she pleased.  She was love on wheels, and ultimately blessed both families, her own and mine. 

My neighbor-families tend my girls when needed and jump in to check those little things, like a coffeepot maybe left on.  In recent years they’ve graciously endured the barking meltdowns that happen since Lula our ‘wretched red-headed rescue’ arrived. 

Together we’ve celebrated each others’ new arrivals . . . and helped with loving hands and hearts during the inevitable sad goodbyes.

These are just a few examples of how our animals enrich our human communities.  It plays out in a thousand ways every day in many homes and neighborhoods, at parks, pet events, and so much more.

Racing Bob to the bins this morning reminded me how very much I have to be thankful for . . . for these precious neighbor-families, and for just how much richer our community is, thanks to our animals.