Thursday, June 16, 2016

Book Review: Two Dogs and a Parrot

Two Dogs and a Parrot: What Our Animal Friends Can Teach Us about Life
by Joan Chittister
Katonah, NY: BlueBridge, 2015

As a child, Sr. Joan Chittister wanted a dog, but neither her mother nor their landlord were on board with the idea, so instead she got a bird. She shares that Billy became “my playmate, my ally, my first guide into the depth and meaning of the animal-human bond.” In Two Dogs and a Parrot, Chittister shares the lessons she has learned from other animals that have been part of her life. She also reflects on “what it means to be entrusted with nature” and “the role of animal companions in the development of our spiritual lives.”

From the Irish Setter, Danny, she learned about acceptance, self-knowledge, enjoyment, assertiveness, purpose, balance, and empathy. From the Golden Retriever, Duffy, she learned about rejection, woundedness, relationships, insight, presence, diversity, and beauty, while the Caique (parrot) taught her about change, materialism, play, love, adventure, essence, and respect. Chittister reflects on each of these traits, how the particular animal illustrated them, and then applies that lesson to human life.

As any pet-owner knows, animals do change your life. Each one is unique with his or her own personality (much like children!). The animal and owner need to learn how to coexist and make the most of the relationship. Animals do have much to teach us if we take the time to slow down, observe, and appreciate the lessons that they have to offer.  Chittister writes, “I know that because of my animal companions my own small soul has been awakened to more of life than I could ever found without them.” That is no doubt true of all of us who have welcomed an animal into our lives and our hearts.

Two Dogs and a Parrot will appeal to any pet owner or anyone who wonders what animals might have to teach us humans. 

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