Have you ever had a special pet or shared a unique bond with an animal -- cat, dog, bird, horse, gecko, goldfish, etc.? A recent conversation in an online forum about "the smartest animal I've ever known" brought back a lot of memories of my dog Missy, an Alaskan Malamute who exhibited almost human-like intelligence.
I've written a lot about Missy in the past -- indeed, I'm still writing about her -- but most of the writings I've shared to date touched upon the special relationship she'd formed with my mother-in-law, "Mumsie," who suffered from Alzheimer's disease. Here's an excerpt from one of those pieces, Yia-Yia and Woo-Woo: BFF (also available on dKos and elsewhere):
Mumsie knew how much Missy loved her, and adored her all the more in return. Even though she had always hated the cold and her advancing deterioration made her even more susceptible, she would don a jacket and a hat in cold weather to go out onto the porch so that Missy could get some sunlight and fresh air and have someone to talk to.
And they'd talk.
They'd talk, and sit, and visit with each other -- Missy, enjoying the sun and the company of her friend with the understanding of how difficult it was for her to endure the cold, and Mumsie, warmed by her capacity to comfort her aging friend in a time of need in a way that nobody else could.
Missy wasn't the only animal I've known who exhibited a higher-than-expected level of intelligence or who'd become such an integral part of the family. My friend BugBear's dog Smoky was another such animal -- also a Malamute, but that's not to say that breed alone is a determining factor.
I've known dogs of other breeds as well as quite a variety of cats, and even a horse or two, who were all uniquely intelligent and personable.
Our animals provide us with much -- companionship, assistance, entertainment and friendship are just a few of the benefits. For some people, their pets serve as surrogate children, providing a source of responsibility while exercising a need to nurture and, in return, receiving unconditionally faithful companionship.
What animals have you known through your life who have made a significant, positive impression upon you?
And remember, this is an Open Thread.