pet life lessons

Here at Darling we cherish our pets as the family members they are. We love dogs, cats, turtles, hamsters, fish — all sorts of creatures — and we give all species the same degree of worth, knowing that while some of us may be distinctly dog people, others of us have the very same relationship with our pet ferret or snake or bird.

Having a pet can be challenging, certainly, but we unanimously agree that the effort of caring for our beloved creature is worth it; in fact, we often feel like we need our pets more than they need us. Animals can teach us so many lessons about life. Today we’re waxing poetic about the pets in our lives and the things they’ve taught us that have shaped us into the pet owners (and people) that we’ve become.

Pets Teach Us About Loyalty

I must confess up front that I am a dog owner, so my realm of understanding of other pets is a bit limited, but I think we can all agree that pets of all kinds are incredibly loyal creatures. They greet us when we come home, they protect us from the mailman (whether we’ve asked them to or not), and they show us great affection.

pet lessons for life
Photo of Amanda Shine for The Setting NYC via Camila Gutierrez |

The loyalty they display reminds us of the ways in which we can be loyal and loving to the important people in our own lives. Loyalty isn’t a topic we discuss much even though it’s a hugely crucial component in relationships. We often focus on honesty, openness and love when discussing relationships (all good things!), but we less frequently expound upon the importance of being loyal to one another by being supportive of one another’s decisions, showing up when someone’s in need, and protecting the parts of each other’s lives that should be kept confidential. Pets remind us of how it feels to be on the receiving end of someone’s loyalty, encouraging us to treat our family and friends in the same way.

Pets remind us of how it feels to be on the receiving end of someone’s loyalty, encouraging us to treat our family and friends in the same way.

Pets Teach Us About Contentment

In a world full of opportunities to compare ourselves to one another, I find this lesson to be the one that resonates most with me. In the midst of being blessed with a wonderful husband, an incredible family, a beautiful community of friends, good health, a full-time job, and a lovely place to live, I still find ways to compare myself to others. It’s ridiculous, really, but I find myself falling into the trap time and time again.

Whenever I need a reality check, I think about the ways in which I’ve learned about contentment from the dogs I’ve had over the years. Granted, pets don’t have to worry about overdue bills, insurance snafus, home repairs or ill relatives, but they still remind us of all there is to be content with, including the basics like food, water, shelter, and love. Pets are content to simply just be present with their owners, which is a tender reminder of how special and meaningful it is to spend time with loved ones, whether we’re engaging in an activity together or just resting in one another’s presence.

Pets Teach Us About Gratitude

Pets remind us of the value of being grateful for all that we have. This life lesson goes hand-in-hand with the concept of contentment: First we learn to be content with what we have, and then we learn to express gratitude for those things. Pets are thankful for the simplest little things in life, and most are able to express their gratitude in specific ways, whether they come in the form of slobbery kisses or loud squawks.

life lessons pets

I often reflect on the way my dog excitedly runs around our living room in circles when he realizes he’s about to go on a walk, and it makes me wonder if I ever approach the little things in my life with that much enthusiasm and gratitude. His sweet behavior puts life into perspective for me, and it reminds me that there’s something that I can be thankful for every single day.

Pets Teach Us About Responsibility

As any pet owner knows, taking care of our animal friends is a lot of work. It’s worthwhile work, certainly, but it’s work nonetheless. Scheduling appointments, tracking medication, keeping living spaces clean, and taking pets out for bathroom breaks are consuming tasks that help teach us to become more responsible with our time and our resources. We learn to better prepare for financial emergencies, should they arise, and we make our schedules in such a way to be the best parents to our furry/feathery/scaly friends.

What life lessons have you learned from your pet?

Images via Camila Gutierrez


  1. Presently, I have fish as pets. Lately, I was thanking them for helping me shake off my lethargy; if I am lazy or lethargic, who is going to give them their food-pallets?; who is going to change the water of their aquariums?…
    Sometimes, they are the reason why I leave the bed immediately in the morning.
    They teach me how to care for someone; the aspects one needs to keep in mind while caring for another.


  2. Our dog has reminded me the importance of greeting people well.
    When the day has been good and I rocked my day, when I walk in the door, there he is with his helicopter tail, his face full of joy because You Are Here! Hooray! I LOVE You! You’re My Lady Human! Yay!!
    When the day has been rotten and I have not done my best, when I walk in the door, he is there with his helicopter tail, his face full of joy because You Are Here! Hooray! I LOVE You! You’re My Lady Human! Yay!!

    Either way, his joy is contagious and makes me feel valued. So, I try, whenever my husband gets home, or when someone arrives, to stop what I’m doing, to go and greet them with happiness and gratitude that they’re with me now, to try to make it clear that NOW my day is even better because that person is here with me. Especially with long term relationships, it can be really easy to make them find you while you’re folding laundry or cleaning xyz, etc. But my dog reminds me how life-giving it is to be greeted well.

  3. Great article! so true, a pet teaches you to be present in the moment and you don’t even realise it at the time. It’s a great gift to have 🙂

  4. Fabulously well written article! Pets are wonderful additions to the family. They add so much joy and unconditional love.

  5. I love this article!

    I’m fortunate enough that my company is very pet-friendly (Love That Pet) and being around pets is part of our natural workdays. This also fosters an environment of friendliness and calm. We take regular breaks to walk a dog or visit with one instead of just heading from desk-to-meeting-to-desk in an endless cycle. They also create an immediate social bond among us.

  6. What a great article!
    I have a six year old Maltese-yorkie mix named Zuzu (after the pizookie dessert at BJ’s) that I adopted from my little sister last year (when she got herself a German Shepard who wouldn’t stop thinking that Zuzu was a chew toy!
    I wouldn’t consider myself a pet person but Zuzu really has given me lots of life lessons and perspective . As a self employed artist, I call her my studio sidekick and she really is the perfect little distraction for me throughout the day….

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