I admit it. I’m hopelessly in love. The first time I laid eyes on her in a pet shop in Chile, Elizabeth, my bulldog puppy, stole my heart. She looked forlorn and desperately bored; the poor thing had been caged up in the store for four months; no-one would buy her because she was so small for her age. I was shocked to hear she had been living like that for so long, and although I was not planning on getting another dog (I already had seven!) it was impossible for me to resist.

Elizabeth is a wonderful example of surrender to life. She embraces her reality completely, as all dogs do. They don’t sit there wondering if their lives could be different; they have an innate ability to enjoy life without questioning. This is a gift that we humans could learn a lot from. With all the “what ifs” that cloud our days, inhibiting our ability to truly enjoy what is in front of us, our capacity to find true happiness is greatly diminished. It is this inability to embrace the beauty of our present reality that maintains us in discontent. But not for Elizabeth! She embraces everything with loving acceptance, and I secretly believe that it was this surrender that brought her into my life. Why? Because now she experiences the other extreme; she lives in the lap of luxury, adored and pampered to her hearts content. She is the most loving and affectionate dog I have ever had; she is quite happy to fall asleep on top of mummy, her slobbery chops resting on my shoulder.

We get what we give in life. If we face situations of injustice with resentment and aggression, we will surely be in for a long and disheartening battle. Yet if we can learn to embrace the hardships with surrender and trust, a trust that everything is bringing us toward a greater freedom that we cannot yet conceive in its entirety, maybe, just maybe, we can transform situations of suffering into opportunities for growth.

In our arrogance, we accept the idea of the superiority of humanity without question. But maybe we have much more to learn from our animal friends than we think. What wisdom have you learnt from your animal companions? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.