Learning from Animals

Last summer I told you about Logan, my German shepherd, who had major surgery for a ruptured tendon in his knee.  For four months my kitchen was his convalescent hospital, and now he has a weekly swim to rebuild muscle and a monthly laser treatment to ease arthritic pain.  Though he sometimes wobbles, he prances on the lawn with his Frisbee; and I rejoice at the wonders of veterinary medicine.

Still, I wish I could stop the clock on Logan’s aging, which is most visible in his weakness and the salt emerging on his pepper muzzle.  At age 11, he’s a geriatric, and I grieve at his inevitable decline.  When I mentioned it last week to my friend Gloria, she said, “In the time you have left with Logan, you need to learn what he’s meant to teach you.”

What might it be? I’ve been wondering.

The lesson that keeps elbowing all others out of my mind is “courage.” When Logan stands his ground and stares at you, he’s so clearly brave that you would never think of crossing him.  But he’s also brave in more subtle ways, such as gathering grit to climb the stairs to the bedroom each night, or enduring acupuncture needles whose purpose he doesn’t understand. Though Logan is not fond of swimming, he bravely walks down the ramp into the pool and paddles with the fortitude of an Olympic medalist.  And he’s met adversity with courage like none I’ve ever seen.

His original family abandoned him at a kennel; because he was such an exemplary dog, the kennel owner was determined to find him the most loving home.  For two years before my husband and I adopted him, Logan was incarcerated, a prisoner who’d committed no crime.  After being so betrayed by his people, he could have grown snappish or sullen.  But when we met him, he stood behind his barred gate looking fearless and regal, his tail wagging gently, his exquisite brown eyes shining.

He’d had no idea what his future might be; but he’d not lost heart, and he’d bravely met each day.  Last summer he also bravely met the terrible pain of his injury and surgery without complaining once.

So perhaps the lesson I’m supposed to learn from Logan is to walk bravely down my path without knowing where it’s leading.  To cultivate the mettle to handle whatever comes.  To tuck past hurt in dark corners of my mind and live only in the present’s light with courage.  Tall orders, but truly worthy ones.

I believe all our animals have much to teach us if we only open our eyes and see.  What lesson is yours trying to get through to you?  As you search for the answer, you might be surprised.

18 Responses to “Learning from Animals”


  1. 1 Nancy Furstinger (@AnimalAuthor) May 24, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    How is handsome Logan doing? The vet wants Bosco Bear (the young rottie with severe hip dysplasia who I recently adopted) to swim…I’m hoping lab Lacy (now 12) will show him how in the lake. Bosco went from being afraid to get one toe wet to going up to his chest in 2 months so there’s hope!

    • 2 Kristin von Kreisler May 24, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      Logan isn’t wild about swimming, but he does it. It’s been a miracle. His injured leg is strong now, and he is much more limber. His hip dysplasia seems much better, too. I hope Bosco Bear gets into the lake soon! Give him a nudge.

  2. 3 HektorHaus German Shepherds April 29, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    I think that was the most well written story on a GSD I’ve ever seen. They are amazing dogs. Thank you so much for sharing and for giving Logan a wonderful life.

  3. 5 elsawatson April 5, 2012 at 5:27 PM

    Oh, Kristin, what a beautiful post about Logie. He’s so wonderfully gentle – and brave, as you say. I hope you’ll also blog about his ultra-creative frisbee game and the way he demands that John play it correctly! :)

  4. 7 Suzanne H. Kerr April 3, 2012 at 6:31 AM

    Kristin, Having met Logan, we read your Logan piece with special interest. You’ve described his character so well. We know that watching him suffer through his injury and therapy was equally painful for you and John. Hopefully Logan will spend the rest of his many, many months (I’m sure) in relative comfort basking in your love. He’s an elegant animal.
    Suzy and David

  5. 9 Lisa Di Nicola and Admiral April 1, 2012 at 8:47 AM

    It shames me to look at my character compared to Logan. Your post opened my eyes. Cherish every moment this gentle beast has left at your side.

  6. 11 Mary Garland April 1, 2012 at 6:38 AM

    It’s truly a gift what our animals teach us. My 3 rescue beagles teach me things on a daily basis, and they never cease to amaze me! I think I learn more from them than most humans.

  7. 13 Bill April 1, 2012 at 12:02 AM

    Lovely, Kristin, thanks

  8. 15 Andrea Warren March 31, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    Just beautiful, Kristin. I’m going to pay some special attention to my cat and see what she has to say.

    Andie

  9. 17 Kathryn Renner March 31, 2012 at 6:13 PM

    What a lovely, tender meditation as your dog enters his final stretch. Both your dog and you are very special.


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