Animals: True Art for the Heart!

Just recently, I was humbled to have a wonderful artist graciously do a portrait of me and my dog, Maui.  It got me thinking about how animals are true “art for the heart”.  I absolutely consider the face of a beautiful horse to be true art, as are a group of puppies and kittens, or pictures of you playing and being incrediblyhappy with your pets. It is amazing all the different mediums and choices an artist can use to give you such emotion from what you see on the canvas, or the sculpture.  The amazing feeling that they give you in your heart, forever, is priceless.

For the portrait I was given, it was the wonderful color and expression through the simplicity of the line that got me immediately. I remember that day and time like it was yesterday and the happiness this enduring art has given me is priceless. The artist’s name is Nittaya Namrung (Nittra, for short) She is from Thailand (the wonder of the internet, bringing animals lovers together!) and she is actually in school for Molecular Biology, but she apparently is great at art, too. Her online site is:  http://paintmyphoto.online/. She uses watercolor and digital portraits for her mediums and I have to say, I LOVE what she gave me. Thanks, Nittra!

Interested in some other animal art that you might want to get done for yourself, or art you can fin of animals in general?  There are literally thousands of websites and options out there to get your fill of animal art.  Getting a sculpture done, or getting a commissioned portrait of you, your family and your pets is just as easy.  Simply surfing the web, you can come up with endless options to get exactly the medium, size, etc. you desire.

If you want to get your custom pet portrait painting” from Nittra, check out these sites to learn more about her and how you can get one of your own beautiful designs:  http://paintmyphoto.online/index.php/2019/07/24/custom-pet-portrait-from-photo/ and at Etsy:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/PaintMyPhotos?ref=seller-platform-mcnav.

EACH time you look at that painting, graphic art, or sculpture, your eyes will fill with tears because of the priceless treasure that you now have.  Animals are true “Art for the Heart”…

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DON’T BE AFRAID TO MAKE A FOOL OF YOURSELF!

Humans can be so silly sometimes.

We get so worried about making a fool of ourselves, or what others might think, that sometimes we miss out on having a truly great time.  This is something I LOVE about kids.  Before they grow up and are “taught” to stop being so foolish, kids can have so much fun doing the simplest and silliest things.  It is true happiness and a wonderful gift which we are all born with, but somehow lose as we age.  Animals have the gift that they NEVER lose this wonderful quality.

I had a very bad horse accident twenty years ago that put me in a coma.  I know it sounds horrible, but fortunately, I made a fantastic recovery.  (Although many would say I am crazy, as I have been riding again for many, many years, minus my recovery time. LOL).  It can be fairly common for people to become depressed, or aggravated from a head injury and from the following recovery, but for me, it was one of the happiest and most simple times of my life.  Part of that was because I had no sense of “embarrassment, so there was no, “Do I look funny? Should I have said that?  Does this outfit make me look weird?” I was just happy to be alive, happy to feel the sun on my back.  Just happy…  I look at my animals now and realize that they have that gift every day.   It was one of the greatest lessons I ever learned and one that my animals constantly remind me of when I forget.

One of my cats, Frack, is the best at reminding me to not worry about making a fool of myself. He is very clumsy, which is weird for a cat, but he doesn’t care.  I’ll see him, lying on the bed, or the steps, legs spread-wide open with his belly up like a hog, totally shameless and completely unbothered by the fact that he WILL fall.  He will land in a heap, making an utter fool of himself.  Still, he’s just so happy and comfortable that he can’t be bothered to realize that, although he is a cat, he has essentially NO ability to be “cat like” and agile! LOL

Every new event and situation is a potentially positive and a spectacular moment not to miss…

His total lack of awareness about his silliness allows him to be super comfy, relaxed and one of the most “chilled out and cool” creatures, people or humans, that I have ever known.  Because of this, every new event and situation is a potentially positive and a spectacular moment he will not miss.  True, we laugh at him lots because he does so much silly stuff.  However, he is also the happiest of us all, adapting to all situations. Truly, he will probably lead the most fulfilling life of us all!

So, here is to animals (and kids) and their loss of personal “worries”.

So, here is to animals and their loss of personal “worries” that keep the rest of us from truly enjoying things.  Each day we should all stop worrying or being embarrassed and just be more child-like.  Live life, adapt, have more fun and just ENJOY!

 

 

CATS and DOGS: TAKE NEW PATHS

“You never know if you don’t go.”  Isn’t that the truth?

All animals roam.  In herds, the tendency is to go the way of the crowd.  Certainly, this has some benefits.  Still, sometimes, you have to just “take the back streets” and explore.  This is a skill I learned most from dogs and cats.  I don’t know which species goes on little explorations more (since they are both always looking to find new and exciting trouble! LOL), but they each have taught me that wonderful skill.

Sometimes you just HAVE to get off the beaten path and find a new route.  Animals have helped teach me to always be open to the “other” forks in the road, the little dirt path, or even the road that isn’t even there yet…  Certainly, there have been some tough, rocky and unpleasant roads I have taken, but if I hadn’t taken those, thanks to my animals helping me to look that way, I would have missed out on the beautiful and amazing things that have come to me on the other side. The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost, said it best:

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference. ”

Thanks to my dogs and cats for teaching me this lesson. It sure has been fun so far…:-)

HORSES/Think Ahead

It’s Saturday morning and raining, which is depressing since I wanted to ride today. I truly love the horse, that incredible partnership and friendship that I have now, and have had in the past, with those essentially perfect animals.  When I think of all of the truly fun, happy, tough and sometimes painful moments (ouch!) that I have been through with them and how much value they have brought to me, I just feel so appreciative and grateful.

Horses have taught me many things.  One of my favorites (and most useful) is the art of planning and seeing ahead. They have definitely taught me to think ahead! Because of them, I know it’s more important not to look at what you have right at that moment, but to see where you’re going to have something five and 10 steps ahead.

I suppose children are the same way, but since I have only had the four-legged, hairy varieties to teach me, I can only speak to them. Still, I think of all the times when I was younger and how I DID NOT think ahead.  The pain and problems it caused me, well, let’s just say that pain has been a great teacher. 😊

What has “thinking ahead to the finish line” given to me? What is the benefit, you ask? 

Proper Planning Prevents Problems… the four P’s

Think about it, it’s just like if you want a great harvest. You have to think ahead, plant the seeds (of food, of growth, of mental/emotional development, for success in anything), tend to the garden and be patient and persistent.  The outcome can either be a beautiful, delicious fruit, vegetable or flower, or rotten, scrawny, pathetic plants that probably don’t even bear fruit or flower.  Remember, if the other outcome is to NOT plan, manage and think ahead, what does that give you?  Essentially, A DISASTER.  You know.  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail…😊

That’s what I learned from horses.  To have beautiful, incredible, loving and trusting friendships and partnerships with a horse, you MUST plant the seeds way back in order to achieve this outcome.  This lesson is something I use over and over again each day.  I am so grateful to have been “enlightened” in such a funny, entertaining, although somewhat painful way (LOL) by horses in this way. 

It’s been a game changer when ever I have decisions to try and make right for the “long-term”.  And believe me, pain comes in ALL areas of your life when you don’t think ahead! Business success, health, relationships, everything. So, thanks to the horses, who have been my teachers, best friends,” siblings” that I can’t stand and most truly and purely good time buddies.  I’ll try to remember to keep thinking ahead…

BROTHERS IN ARMS – PROTECT FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Three years ago, I adopted two kittens from the local county animal shelter.  They were in the same cage and similar ages, but I had no idea if they were related (they are VERY different looking and acting). So, even if I still don’t know if they are related or not, they sure do treat each other like family. By that I mean that these two can definitely go at it, just like brothers and sisters can do to each other. Still, it’s obvious that they are willing to defend and protect each other.  This is a great bond and quality we should all have and to see it from my cats reminded me how important it is for us all to protect and stick to your friends and family.

I’m very lucky to have a vet that comes to the home to take care of my cats. She came to give the cats vaccinations and their yearly exam. Frack got his vaccines and exam with no problems.  He’s the tough one (I think he is actually a dog stuck in a cat’s body! LOL).  On we went to Frick.

Frick is the pacifist.  He is a friendly, jolly fellow who DOES NOT like things like vet exams or shots.  Needless to say, Frick started screaming and crying when I “restricted” him for the shots/exam.  I mean, you would have thought we were ripping his legs off, or worse!

Well, can you believe that as I was holding poor, struggling (and wimpy) Frick, his brother ran over to me and BIT ME in the elbow!! He wasn’t doing it for any other reason than to protect his brother/buddy and to get me to release him while being examined!  I thought to myself, “You go, boy!  Way to protect your family and best buddy.” The vet and I were shocked, but completely delighted at the same time.  I mean, he was completely willing to stand up to me to help his buddy.  How cool is that?

On this same theme, there has been LOTS of chaos in the home recently, due to just having just sold the house.  It sold in two days and we have to be out in THREE weeks, so needless to say, it’s just a bit crazy here.  The cats and dogs have been put off by the strangers trampling through their home (WITHOUT their parents) and the dog won’t leave my side.  The cat’s way to cope is to stay on top of each other, comforting and supporting each other.  Again, brothers in arms! 

We all need to follow their example and protect each other, comfort each other and stay close.  Certainly, we want to kill our family and friends sometimes, but that doesn’t ever mean we won’t drop everything to protect them.

DOGS: Keep Going and Enjoy!

My old dog Butthead (yes, that was his name-I didn’t give him the name, but if you knew the dog, you couldn’t change the name! LOL) was a puppy mill puppy that a woman bought from a mall pet store because she loved Springer Spaniels and she had the means to do so. She frequently bought Spaniels in pet stores and then gave them away because she wanted them to have a great life.

First, she gave him to a blacksmith, who tried him as a bird dog (which didn’t go well 😊), so he gave the dog away to my former boss. When my boss was leaving his job and I was taking over for him, I loved Butthead SOOOO much that when my boss was leaving, he told me he was moving to somewhere he couldn’t keep the dog, so he asked if I wanted him? Enter my first dog as an adult. I can tell you, even though I was now his forth owner, that he was the BEST friend and BEST dog I ever had (and may ever have).

Butthead was so fun and so cool, you couldn’t help but love him to pieces. His happiness and love for life were so infectious. I even used to take him to senior homes as a volunteer to brighten older citizens days to cheer them up. He would march into each room and announce to every person he saw that life was amazing and weren’t we all just lucky for something so fun?  Certainly, he brightened the life of everyone he saw.

Now, Butthead had everything going against him. Being a puppy-mill puppy, he was terribly bred, meaning he had every problem imaginable. Again, I was his FORTH owner, plus he had grade four out of grade five hip dysplasia, horrible skin allergies and he also had to have three (yes three) cruciate ligament surgeries.  Still, that dog got up EVERY day and looked at me with the biggest toothy grin and said, “today is the best day ever! What are we going to do to make it even more awesome!!?”

It was his amazing attitude and love for life that got me through some of the darkest times of my life. And I do mean dark… I would look at him each day and wonder how he could possibly have such an amazing zest for life? At a time when everything seemed all wrong for me, when I had thoughts of not going on myself, I used to look at him and think, “How can you go on and be so damn happy when everything is against you?” 

FORTUNATELY, he made me realize that if HE could keep going and be that happy, that I could, too!  That dog truly taught me one of the best lessons I ever received.  He gave me a drive to keep going on and keep trying my best, like no one else could.  I still think of him often and know I owe him everything.  When I spread his ashes this year over his old running grounds (he used to trail ride with me for hours in NY, having the time of his life!)  I cry with joy now just remembering how lucky I was for him and how much he gave to me.

Dogs are simply the best that way.  They know that no matter how bad you think you have it, life can still be amazing and fun and wonderful, so WHY NOT smile and enjoy?  His gift, and the gift of all dogs, is to keep on going each day.  We are all really lucky for those furry best buddies, no matter how they come into our lives!

HORSES: Patience and Appreciation

I lived in Ocala, Fl for 21 years and I’m in back for work obligations. Depending on who you speak with, it is, “Horse Capital of the World”. That may, or may not be true, but horses are everywhere around. It’s why I moved to Ocala originally and lived in the town for so long.

A life-long horse nut, I have been incredibly fortunate to have been around some of the best and most incredible horses and their riders, trainers and caregivers. Superior horsemen have been incredibly generous in teaching me smart and life-long skills to keep these animals at their peak and as happy as possible, which can be very hard in the tough world of serious showing (or racing, or any top-level horse competition). Being back here reminds me how much horses have given to me and taught me. Horses are actually why I started this blog.

The patience and overly abundant tolerance that horses give to humans is something that I never get past. I mean, how would you like someone hopping on your back, kicking you in the belly and insisting that they “jump this” and “run around this track”, or “race around this stupid barrel”? What human would put up with that foolishness? Still, horses just do. Certainly, their nature is to be passive and tolerant and essentially “do as told”, but what they give us, the patience they show us as we make mistake after mistake is mind-boggling. 

I’ve always considered myself so lucky to have been able to be continually given that patience and unbelievable tolerance by the horses I’ve been around.  Even to have “fixed” horses that came from very bad situations and to see their ability to come back and love, just as before.  Such patience and tolerance…unreal.

Humans should try a little of this with themselves, each other and other species.  Just think how much better EVERYTHING would be for all if we tried to learn a little from horses.  Patience and tolerance.  Rare, but incredible valuable gifts for us all to practice to all animals and each other.