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  • Writer's pictureMarybeth Haines

The Lesson Thunder Taught Me

Through the writing of my book The Power of Pets, I’ve been fortunate enough to do many speaking engagements and meet incredible people and pets. Recently, Pets at Peace – Pet loss and Memorial Services sponsored a Blessing of Animals service at St. Aidan’s Church in Toronto, Ontario.

Helen Hobbs, owner of Pets at Peace is a caring and kind person who has become my friend. She understands. She listens. She knows that the time spent with pets can often be greater than the time spent with other family members. When I was asked to speak about the gifts pets give us, I was excited.

Reverend Lucy Reid performed the service to bless the animals and to remember our wonderful pets of today and yesterday. She paid tribute to the relationship that we have with our pets.

I began my talk with how thrilled I was to see so many people and their pets in the church! My gaze went from person to person to hamster to dog to cat. I remembered I had passed Winston the Toronto Police horse at the entrance of the church. Winston was nice enough to wait outside. I spoke about the gifts pets give us and the lessons they teach us.

Rev. Lucy Reid blessing Winston | Photo credit: Ruthann Sullivan

Helen Hobbs remembering our pets of yesterday | Photo credit: Ruthann Sullivan

Marybeth speaking about the gifts our pets give to us | Photo credit: Ruthann Sullivan

Outside the church and the Blessings of Animals | Photo credit: Ruthann Sullivan

Did you know that animals are brought into courts to calm children and adults when they must testify? Dentists know about the power of pets.

A dental office in the United States brings their dog to the office each day to lie with and comfort the person in the dental chair! Psychologists and psychiatrists know about the power of pets. People open up and feel comforted when a pet is nearby giving unconditional love. I have learned so many important ‘life’ lessons from my pets that are carried with me today.

In my younger years, I have fond memories of my horse named Thunder who I always rode with my sister or my dad who would walk along beside, leading Thunder; a beautiful little golden pony with a blonde mane and tail. (I wish I had a photo to share, he was my best friend). As a little girl gets older, she wants to do more things on her own. I wanted to ride Thunder alone and gallop. This terrified me and was exciting at the same time.

I brought my pony into the barn. I groomed and saddled him and rode out into our 25 acres of land. I had always pictured being in the field with Thunder following my lead, my commands. We would bond and gallop for the first time with the wind in my hair, connecting with each other. THAT was what I wanted to do.

It was time to gallop so I pressed my feet into his sides and we started off into a trot and then a gallop. Finally I was free and I did it! I really did it! I remember feeling that saddle beneath me. Why was it slanting to one side? Down to the hard ground I went. The saddle had slipped and I remember my Dad and sister looking at me, as I cried bitter tears on the ground as Thunder kept running towards the barn. I felt like I had failed. I was embarrassed and angry and very, very shocked.

Now I truly believe that children are resilient. What did it take for me to get back up on the horse? I guess my pride had something to do with it. My sister and Dad were watching me, trying to console me. It was time to saddle up again and maybe get a little help from my Dad in making sure the saddle was going to stay on Thunder’s back and me on the saddle. I got back up and as I reflect upon this time in my life, I realize that my friend Thunder was my teacher. Sure, I didn’t realize the lesson Thunder taught me back then but I remember it now…. “Never give up”.

We as humans are open to anticipating the future. Sometimes when I have a stressful day and the litter needs to be changed after I eat something but the phone is ringing now…I take one look at my cat Mooshie who will stay transfixed on looking out the window – in the moment. He sits there in this meditative stance, sitting at the desk in his bed while I’m working. He’s not worrying about what he is going to do in 10 minutes because he is in the NOW! He brings ME back to the present moment.

Oh yes, there was the time when Mooshie in his comedy style way decided to do a balancing act on top of my files. He then proceeded to promptly slide and gently fall in my desk drawer in between my files.

He slipped in between the files and I laughed as I carefully pulled him out. Okay Mooshie. I’ll have some time to play with you. Do you want to look at the light moving on the carpet from the flashlight or would you like to sit still and have me brush you? Oh decisions, decisions…and then there’s Thunder my pony who taught me that giving up isn’t half as much fun as sticking with it until you get it right.

Pets from the past and present or as I like to say…pets from today and yesterday. Pets who heal and who teach just by being themselves.

Thank-you to all of you who continue to support me on this adventure. It’s been and continues to be quite the ride.

With hugs and love,


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