Random Acts of Love from the Animal Kingdom

This month I’ve blogged about random acts of love and kindness. Too often it feels as if the world has become colder, harder, less kind. As February draws to a close, let’s look at how the animal kingdom performs random acts of love and kindness.

Acts of love from the animal kingdom include this dog allowing a cat on his back to drink from the fridge's water dispenser

Empathy

All month I’ve been asking you to perform random acts of love and kindness but perhaps you’re perplexed by this. Why should you love your fellow man? 

Empathy is …

… the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Empathy helps you make a partnership with your spouse. It tugs at your heartstrings when your child skins their knee. When your neighbor’s wife dies, empathy inspires you to take the widower a casserole. Empathy is part of 98% of all human beings. Yet, acting on empathy for a stranger takes…

I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.

Maya Angelou

courage. Acting on empathy for someone not-like-ourselves takes courage. We can learn that courage from animals who make interspecies friendships.

Image of a lioness, a bear, and a tiger nuzzling one another
Interspecies Friendship at Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary
Image of a hen nesting over puppies
Hen that thinks it’s a dog.

Image of giraffe nuzzling heads with an ostrich
Bea the Giraffe and Wilma the Ostrich from Bored Panda, Image credits: PA

We often see images of different species of animals acting with kindness toward one another. If the animals can do it across species and against instincts, shouldn’t we be able to? 

Types of Empathy

Psychologists have identified three types of empathy: Cognitive, Emotional, and Compassionate.

Cognitive Empathy is the ability to understand another’s perspective or emotional state. If you have cognitive empathy, you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

Emotional Empathy also called Personal Distress is the ability to respond with an appropriate emotion to another’s mental or emotional state. Babies cry when they hear another baby cry. You get scared when watching or reading a frightening scene. If you have a pet, you may remember a time when your dog or cat comforted you during a sad time.

Compassionate Empathy, also called Empathetic Concern, goes beyond understanding or responding with an appropriate emotion. It moves us to act, to help. Like Cholli the German Shepherd helped these cubs.

Image of german shepherd nursing cougar cubs
German shepherd foster mom raises cougar cubs in Russian zoo

Compassion

Showing compassion with a random act of love and kindness doesn’t mean you agree with the other’s religion or philosophy or politics. It means you can put yourself into someone else’s shoes, ‘feel their pain,’ and attempt to relieve it if only for a moment.

Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man. 

Arthur Schopenhauer

I would rephrase Schopenhauer’s words a bit. 

Any person who is cruel to another person cannot be a good person.

At our best, we practice empathy, imagining ourselves in the lives and circumstances of others. This is the bridge across our nation’s deepest divisions. 

The Honorable George W. Bush, the 43rd President of the United States

Going Forward

Let’s all practice empathy every day. Show it through random acts of love and kindness. If you haven’t yet, read the other post about Random Acts of Love: Random Acts of Love, Inspirational Random Acts of Love, and Random Acts of Love May Save Your Country. An act as simple as holding the door for someone can turn a bad day around.

Animals don’t hate, and we’re supposed to be better than them. 

Elvis Presley

The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man.

Charles Darwin

Take a clue from the animal kingdom. Find opportunities to perform random acts of love and kindness. You’ll help someone who may need it desperately. And you’ll reap rewards that will last you a lifetime.

Are You Furever in Love with Puppies?

Puppies. Puppy faces. Wiggly puppy bodies. Puppy breath. I can’t get enough. Are you furever in love with puppies like I am? 

I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with dogs my whole life. I’m told my first dog was a Cocker Spaniel named Buttons. Sadly, as a toddler, I helped let him outside once too often. I remember little of my childhood. I was in grade school when we got our next dog. Sammy was a pound puppy—okay, not really a puppy—but to me all dogs are puppies. But four kids and a day care and a rambunctious sixty-pound dog was too much for my mom. Sammy stayed outside. So I liked dogs, but I wasn’t overly fond of them.

Months after DH and I married, he spoke about his love affair with a tiny pekinese mix named Bear. Bear had been “lost” to his first wife in their divorce.

NEMO

Image of my Miniature Schnauzer puppy, Nemo  whom I'm furever in love
Baby Nemo

He talked about Bear a lot. So when post-op depression took hold of DH, I decided it was time to get a dog. Since DH is allergic to everything, I researched “non-allergenic” dogs. Surfing puppy pictures, a funny feeling started growing inside me. I found a Miniature Schnauzer pup and brought him home. Nemo (2001-2011) was the perfect dog at the perfect time. (Have your tissues ready and read my goodbye to Nemo.)

My salt-and-pepper mini schnauzer all grown up and handsome
Nemo, miniature schnauzer

COSMO

Cosmo, a blonde schnauzer mix

We soon decided Nemo needed a friend, a pack mate. I found an ad for a Schnoodle (Miniature Schnauzer-Poodle mix). We brought Cosmo (2002- 2015) home. I hadn’t done my due-diligence and when we finally got papers on Cosmo. He wasn’t a Schnoodle but a Standard Schnauzer-Bichon Frise mix. That explained both his size and his tendency to walk on his hind legs. He could walk all the way around the table or along the counter and never touch it. But he could snatch a goodie from either surface and snarf it down in a second. My vet called him my clown dog. And he was a lovable clown all of his days.

Cosmo and Nemo posing for the camera
A clown who adored his big brother.

ASTRO

Baby Astro sits pretty for a treat with big brother Nemo watching

I loved all my dogs but still had puppy fever. And Astro (2005 — ), my first Yorkshire Terrier, came into my life. At less than five pounds, he was and is my first furever puppy. In early 2017, he began having seizures. The vet said he probably had a brain tumor. She warned us that our time with him was limited. His condition grew worse. I blogged about that in my post, My Dear Old Dog. I’m happy to report that his health turned around and he’s still with us. Still an independent little guy who loves to have his head scratched.

Astro, Nemo, and Cosmo ducked between the curtain and the front window to stare out into the yard.
The three amigos loved watching the front yard from atop our loveseat in the window.

GIZMO

Gizmo hiding near mom on his first day
Gizmo’s first day with us.

In 2014, Unleashed, my local pet rescue folk advertised they had a Yorkie available. They estimated his age at around 3 or 4 years. I couldn’t help it. I went to see him. Poor thing quivered and cowered in the crate he was in. He practically jumped into my arms and promptly nestled up against my chest and sighed. You know I had to bring him home. We named him Gizmo (2010?—).

 NEO

baby neo

With Cosmo gone, my little pack of fur babies needed another companion. We brought Neo (2017 — ) home. I blogged a bit about him in We Interrupt This Blog. Neo is energy and love and energy. He can barely sit still for a treat but he wants in your lap and both your hands petting him for the thirty seconds he can sit still.

grown up neo still a puppy

Furever in Love

My three dogs I'm furever in love with these puppies
The bed was in the empty shelf but they wanted to be closer to mom working at her computer.

I admit it. I am furever in love with puppies. Luckily, Yorkies are furever puppies. Now with three Yorkies at my feet or in my lap all day, I am —content. Just don’t tell me about a Yorkie that needs rescued or a Yorkie pup for sale… But do tell me about your fur babies or puppies or other critters you love.

Do You Celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Happy Valentine’s Day 2020! It’s a day to celebrate romantic love or it passes in sorrow or passes as any other day or celebrating it is prohibited. Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Image of a large red heart Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

I have had years when I celebrated. Years when I hated the day. And years when I ignore the day. Don’t get me wrong, I am a romantic. Don’t believe me? See my post Fools Risk Magic.

There are millions who are romantic enough to celebrate Valentine’s Day in one fashion or another. Millions like W. H. Auden…

I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you till China and Africa meet and the river jumps over the mountain and the salmon sing in the street.

W. H. Auden

Is that romantic or what?

Why Do We Celebrate?

Well, all you romantics know why you celebrate. But do you know what the historical roots of Valentine’s Day are? Guess what? There isn’t one answer.

Some believe we celebrate because of the Catholic saint, St. Valentine. But there were three St. Valentines. Read Who Was the Real St. Valentine? 

The day could have its origins in the pagan fertility celebration, Lupercalia.

We think the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer recorded the first Valentine’s Day poem in 1375, “Parliament of Foules.” Did he start Valentine’s Day?

The Procrastinators

Today is Valentine’s Day – or, as men like to call it, Extortion Day!

Jay Leno

Some of us delay preparing for or celebrating Valentines Day. For some reason, Valentine’s Day brings out the procrastinator in more than 70 million who purchase their cards within six days of the holiday? Are you one of those? You might need some last-minute ideas. See my post Valentine’s Day Procrastinator’s Delight.

Not Everyone Celebrates Valentines Day

I’d kiss a frog even if there was no promise of a Prince Charming popping out of it. I love frogs. Cameron Diaz

Not everyone has found a romantic love. Some don’t care. Others care desperately. For them this is a difficult day. For them I wrote Your Valentine’s Day Survival Guide and the flash fiction, The Yellow Rose of Valentine’s Day.

Places like Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and India do not celebrate. In fact, in some of those countries there are severe punishments for those who do. Read more here.

Celebrate Your Way

What am I doing to celebrate? I’m taking my husband to the pulmonologist for a follow-up visit. Not as romantic as seeing his cardiologist… but that’s where we’ll be. Afterward, we’ll stop for some sweet treats. A nod to the day, but these days we express our love, celebrate our love every day.

Whether or not you celebrate, use this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to remember to love yourself. No matter who you are, what your life circumstances are, you’ve been through a lot. You are here on this planet on this day. Celebrate you. Love yourself. Treat yourself with love and kindness. And have a very happy Valentine’s Day.

Inspirational Random Acts of Love

Inspirational random acts of love are often an act of selflessness too. It’s sad that we need this kind of inspiration. Unfortunately, in the hustle-and-bustle of our daily routines it’s easy to get caught up in our own needs. Fortunately, there are people who perform small acts of love and kindness that inspire us to pay it forward.

Image of a red heart outline with the words Inspirational Random Acts of Love inside the heart.

This is the second of this month’s exploration of Random acts of Love (read the first one here.)

The best portion of a good man’s life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.

William Wordsworth

The Beginning

According to Wikipedia, the phrase “practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” was written by Anne Herbert on a placemat in Sausalito, California in 1982

Today, if you do an internet search for “random acts of kindness” you’ll find dozens of articles identifying inspirational random acts of love for one’s fellow man. One such article, 10 Acts of Kindness by Strangers Around the World, appears on the National Geographic website. The article tells of a traveler touring the Ring of Kerry in Ireland. When her car broke down, many locals stopped to help. In Australia, a toy gifted to a boy came with a catch—that the boy pay it forward with an act of kindness to someone else. 

image of toy turtle

On the website Little Things, 25 Random Acts of Kindness includes a story about the employees who repaired a veteran’s wheelchair when it broke in the hardware store.

image of three hardware store employees fixing a broken wheelchair in the middle of the aisle.
image from LittleThings.com

Personal Experience

Recently, exhausted after helping my handicapped husband in and out of the car for four back-to-back appointments I struggled to keep going. Too tired to think about cooking a healthy meal, we went to a favorite restaurant. When we returned to the car, I helped my husband into the passenger seat and folded his wheelchair to put in the back of my Suzuki Aerio. I could barely lift the chair. A gentleman standing outside the restaurant talking with his friends came over and said, “Let me help.” He hoisted the wheelchair easily into my car. “Thank you,” I said. “You’re very kind.” And off I drove. But his act of kindness, of love for his fellow human being—me, will stay in my heart forever.

A little thought and a little kindness are often worth more than a great deal of money.

John Ruskin

What it Takes

All it takes is a little thought. It doesn’t have to cost money. Open a door for someone. If someone is wearing something that catches your eye, give that person a compliment. It takes so little to brighten someone else’s day. In performing small acts of love and kindness, you’ll feel brighter and want to do it again. And—you’ll inspire someone to pay it forward with their own random acts of love.

Why Take Part in Random Acts of Love 

When I pontificate, it sounds so, you know, Oh, well, she’s preaching. I’m not preaching, but I think maybe I learned it from my animal friends. Kindness and consideration of somebody besides yourself. I think that keeps you feeling young. I really do.

Betty White

If anyone knows how to feel young despite her age, it’s Betty White. I agree with her, it keeps you feeling young. And it almost always puts a smile on your face.

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our time in this world is limited. Why not enrich your life by being kind to someone else? Your inspirational random act of love and kindness can be contagious. What random act of love have you received or performed? What’s your plan to continue doing random acts of love and kindness?

Random Acts of Love

February is the month of love. Romantic love is what most people think about. Romance is important. Connecting with the special relationships in your life requires a life of small acts of love and romance. But what about the other people around you? This month I will explore what others call Random Acts of Kindness, what I call Random Acts of Love. 

image is a looking at the end cuts of a stack of wood with one large heart-shaped log surrounded by small white logs--we're in this together, lets do random acts of love this month

We’re all in this world together. Sometimes stacked close like the logs above. You don’t have to agree with or have romantic or sexual love to perform a Random Act of Love. A short exchange. A small gift or a small gesture can make a huge difference in a life you know nothing about. 

Love For the Homeless

Image of a homeless woman sitting with her cart of stuff--she needs a random act of love

It’s winter in the northern hemisphere. The homeless have it tough. It doesn’t matter what their circumstances are—why they are homeless. The harsh conditions of living on the streets can break a person’s spirit quickly. 

Next time you see a homeless person give them a cup of coffee or hot chocolate or a hot sandwich. Or give them a pair of warm gloves or a scarf. (They can use blankets and hot meals, too, please provide them with that if you’re able. But this is about small, random acts of love for your neighbor.)

Love for Your Next-Door Neighbor

One of my neighbors makes candies. Only she and her husband live in their home so instead of eating it all, she makes little boxes of candy and gifts them to her neighbors. You might bake cookies or breads. (Avoid nuts and you’ll avoid most allergies—regardless, the act is kindness and love.) If you’re more athletic, you could shovel a driveway or a walkway. What would you appreciate someone doing for you? There’s your next act of neighborly love.

Love for a Random Stranger

This one’s a little tougher because we are more suspicious these days. But you can open a door for someone (regardless of gender). You could gift a candy bar or a gift card for a single drink or snack at your favorite coffee shop or fast food place. Paying for the next person in line’s purchase at the lunch line is a nice option, too.

image of pink butterfly with it's flight in pink dashes that form a heart-a random act of love

There’s so much stress and worry and conflict in the world don’t you want to leave a smile on someone’s face? Make February the Month of Random Acts of Love. Won’t you give it a shot? Try one of each of these acts of loves this week. This month love your neighbor. Love everyone. If you only “love” that person for the few moments of your exchange, it will improve that person’s day and yours. Try it. See how it makes you feel.