This story about the animal/human connection was submitted by Rebecca Poliquin and a Communications major at Carroll College.
There is a story in the lore of my family about my aunt, who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer when she was nineteen. As a normally witty and charming girl, the absolute loneliness of her treatments sent her into a depression. My uncle— her husband— happened upon a stray calico kitten in their apartment building’s parking lot.
He gifted the kitten to my aunt, who christened her Sonora. Sonora was a companion and a friend, and, from my own experience, a very gentle soul. She accompanied my aunt through her recovery before dying on the fifth anniversary of my aunt’s cancer free body— when she was safely and officially past remission.
It’s one of those stories that comes up now around a dying campfire, when the low embers glitter like a lonely city and the conversation shifts to ideas we don’t understand fully: ideas of love. Every Facebook video of a dog happily and desperately greeting his long-away owner, every photo of a cat with her paw on her pregnant owner’s belly, every necessary cuddle we’ve ever had— they are all portraits of the simplest sort of love.
That basic adoration fosters profound connection because it requires very little, but offers very much. This connection is in our evolution, too— we domesticated animals out of necessity and then desire and then habit. From Paleolithic hunting dogs to royal Egyptian cats to modern therapy animals and police hounds, we’ve always found purpose or solace in the animals around us.
We are grateful for the stories that our community of kind, thoughtful people are willing and eager to share about their experiences with a beloved pet. Please consider sharing one of your stories and even a photo. Send the story to [email protected] and write HUMAN ANIMAL CONNECTION in the subject line. We will let you know when the book will be ready to be released.
Judy Helm Wright, Pet Grief Coach and author