Pet Connections


By Lesley Ashworth

Human-Animal Bond Educator, National Link Coalition Standing in the gallery, my eye is drawn to the delightful paintings of cows. One in particular, titled “Thelma Lou and Barney “shows a cow licking the face of another. My immediate reaction is that which captures the heart of many animal lovers, yet in a flash, the aaawwwwh moment is quickly replaced with the certain knowledge that I could never hang this delightful artwork and still be an unrepentant carnivore.

Like many others who consider their domestic pets as family members, I consequently attribute them with emotions and qualities that may, or may not, exist. Case in point, perhaps the cow in the painting was just licking a tasty morsel and not planting a kiss.

In what may be viewed as our glacial development toward enlightenment as a species, we are becoming more and more aware of the important role of non-humanoid animals. Their value to us is immeasurable and frequently follows us from nursery to nursing home.

It would take more space than this article allows to list all the wonderful and amazing ways we benefit from the human-animal connection, suffice to say it is a powerful bond that impacts both. Today there is rapidly growing research to support what many of us already believe – that in addition to the psychological benefits, animals provide physiological support. We are learning that pets may boost infant immunity to infections, lower our blood pressure (not so much for those of us with frenetic cats) and help with treatment of mental health disorders.

I would like, for a brief moment, to focus on just one aspect of our continued benefit from animals and that is forgiveness. They (animals) seem to display it in abundance – while we seem to have forgotten its existence. I would not be surprised to learn doubt that our increased awareness about the benefits of animals to the human condition in some way correlates to the apparent disintegration of the world as we know it.

In the late 1800’s Nietzsche observed that “Growth in wisdom can be measured precisely by decline in bile.” Perhaps, when irritated or angry we should pause and reflect on “what would Fido/Fluffy do?” I am not meaning to be irreverent here, but it cannot hurt the human condition for those of us who love pets to be inspired – to pause and consider forgiveness as an alternative to righteous indignation.

I recently read an article by Stacie Grissom about the “Vicktory Dogs” who were rescued from Michael Vicks home in 2007. These pups have contributed to some truly beautiful stories of hope, survival, love and triumph. One that resonated with me was that of Georgia. According to the article, Georgia’s adopter Amy, was surprised how quickly Georgia adapted to a loving family life. Although Georgia passed away in 2013, she “taught Amy powerful lessons of forgiveness, love, and learning to trust again.” What an an amazing and powerful legacy! Certainly one that few humans inspire.

As for Michael, who am I to doubt his contrition is not genuine? I do know his life experiences afford him the credibility to educate and impact persons few of us could ever hope to influence. If he chooses this path his value and impact on the animal world could be significant. Only time will tell. Meanwhile I encourage the City of Champions to begin healing by forgiving.


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023


December 14, 2023
December 14, 2023