Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Animals as Teachers: A Guest Post by Ingrid King (& a Giveaway)

I have gotten to know Ingrid King through her blog and am honored to have her as a guest today. Anyone who has spent any time on her blog, The Conscious Cat, knows how much she loves and respects cats. She recently published her first book, Buckley's Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher. Please welcome Ingrid to Musings of a Bookish Kitty!


Animals as Teachers From the Introduction to Buckley’s Story –
Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher


I have always believed that animals come into our lives to teach us. First and foremost, they teach us about unconditional love. But they also teach us to stretch and grow, to reach beyond our self-imposed limits, and to expand our consciousness. They take us to places we did not think were possible for us to go. I’ve been fortunate to have a number of these animals in my life.

I was not allowed to have pets as a child. The apartment building I grew up in would not permit them, but I would temporarily adopt cats for the duration of almost every family vacation. I grew up in Germany, and in those days, a typical vacation meant that you went to one place and stayed there for two or three weeks at a time. We stayed at small bed-and-breakfasts or rented a vacation condo, and somehow, at every place we stayed, we would either find a resident cat or two, or there would be a number of stray cats hanging around the property. The times I spent with these cats make up some of my happiest childhood memories.

I got my first cat when I was in my twenties. Feebee was a grey tabby cat who was born in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia to a cat named Blue, who belonged to a childhood friend of my former husband. Walt and I were living in Germany at the time, but we would be moving back to the Washington, DC area shortly, so Walt’s friend saved one of the kittens in Blue’s litter for us. Meeting Feebee was love at first sight for me. We took him home as soon as we had moved into our new house in Northern Virginia, and for the next fifteen and a half years, Feebee was the love of my life. He saw me through my divorce as well as the death of my mother. He was my primary emotional support during those dark days. If it wasn’t for him, you might not be reading this book.

He was also instrumental in guiding me toward a new career. I was increasingly unhappy with my corporate job but had no clear sense of what I was meant to be doing with my life. Then Feebee took matters into his own paws, so to speak, and developed bladder stones. The time we then spent at veterinary hospitals for diagnosis, treatment, and surgery led me to change careers. I started volunteering and then working part time at veterinary hospitals, which eventually led to a full-time position managing an animal hospital—a position that came with an office cat with a very distinct personality. Virginia, a beautiful tortoiseshell cat, loved me fiercely, and made my dream of a fulfilling career complete. Whenever I had visualized my perfect job, that dream had always included a cat sleeping in a sunny spot on my desk. One of Virginia’s favorite sleeping places was the spot right next to my computer, in front of a sunny window.

Working at various animal hospitals led to many encounters with a large variety of special cats and dogs. The lessons learned from those encounters are enough to fill another book.

Several years later, Feebee lost his battle with lymphoma. Three months after he passed away, Amber came into my life. She was a stray who was brought to the animal hospital with her five kittens. She was emaciated and scrawny, but even then, her eventual beauty was evident. She is a dark tortoiseshell color, with an amber-colored, heart-shaped spot on top of her head, which became the reason for her name. Her kittens were adopted out to new homes in fairly rapid succession, but nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat. I did not think I was ready for another cat yet. The wound from Feebee’s passing was still very fresh and raw, but coming home to an empty house was becoming increasingly difficult, so I took Amber home, “just for the weekend.” She never returned to the animal hospital, and for the past nine years, her gentle, loving, wise presence, not to mention her almost constant purr, has been bringing love and affection into my life every day.

Virginia passed away two years after Feebee, and my office felt empty. For the next three years, I did not have an office cat, but there were always plenty of cats boarding at the animal hospital and these cats appreciated getting a break from being confined to a cage all day. I would bring a succession of favorites into my office with me whenever the opportunity presented itself. But it was not the same as having my own office cat.

And then, in the spring of 2005, Buckley entered my life. It seems hard to believe how much one small cat can change your life in just three short years. This is the story of Buckley and the lessons she taught me. Since the lessons are universal, I hope that you, dear reader, will find some of them useful for your own journey. If nothing else, I hope you enjoy the story of Buckley, a very special little cat.

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Ingrid King is a former veterinary hospital manager turned writer. She publishes the E-zine News for You and Your Pet, covering topics ranging from conscious living to holistic and alternative health. She shares her experiences with consciously creating a joyful, happy and healthy life for pets and people on her popular blog, The Conscious Cat. Ingrid lives in Northern Virginia with her tortoiseshell cat Amber. Visit www.ingridking.com.


The author has kindly offered a copy of her book, Buckley's Story, to one lucky reader in the U.S.A. If you would like a chance to win a copy please let me know by leaving a comment. Be sure and include your e-mail address. The winner will be selected at random and notified by e-mail. The deadline to enter the giveaway is October 30th at 11:59 p.m. PDT.

Thank you to all who commented and entered the giveaway! The winner was selected using random.org. The winner is


Congratulations, Diane!

**GIVEAWAY CLOSED**

26 comments:

  1. "I have always believed that animals come into our lives to teach us. First and foremost, they teach us about unconditional love." That is so true, and not to mention they make a great companion too!

    Thanks for this wonderful post, Wendy! I enjoyed reading more about Ingrid King and I'm sure Buckley's Story will inspire many of us! :)

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  2. I'm with Melody on this! Thanks for hosting author Ingrid King!

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  3. What a sweet guest post! I had to giggle just a bit though, when I think of my cats. Yes, they love me, but on their own terms. My cat Casper, the one on the header of my blog, is honestly a freak show. He won't hesitate to smack me around if I look at him wrong. I am his slave.

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  4. There's no doubt that pets teach us an incredible number of lessons! I'm especially drawn to your point about how pets help us to stretch ourselves in new directions. I've found that to be very true with our dogs. They've helped me grow in a lot of ways.

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  5. Thank you so much for hosting me on your wonderful site, Wendy. I'll check in periodically and I'd be happy to answer any questions from your readers.

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  6. What a wonderful guest post. I loved Homer's Odyssey so I bet I'd like this a lot as well. Thanks again

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  7. What wonderful universal lessons await us if we are open to them. And animals are natural facilitators of such lessons. This book sounds like a wonderful read with something special for every one of us. It seems as though each cat came into your life for a special reason, Ingrid, and they each affected you differently. But Buckley must be a special little girl who touched your life very deeply and now is touching the lives of others through the book you and she wrote.

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  8. I agree with Ingrid - animals teach us so much. I bet Buckley's Story is wonderful.

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  9. It's so true that our pets teach us valuable lessons. And they add so much to our lives.

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  10. I learn something new from my dog and cats every day. I like to think that they help me be a better person.

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  11. Indeed, we have so much to learn from our non-human animal brothers and sisters, who, in their simplistic, real and grounded ways, live their lives without the baggage most humans carry. And in our ignorance, arrogance and selfishness, we presume to be superior, masters and rulers. The day we learn to respect and appreciate non-human animals for what they are--unique sentient beings deserving of existence without man's exploitation--and be ready to learn from them, that day man will have become one with, not one over Nature and animals.

    Marisa
    http://www.greenpetsecoliving.com

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  12. I didn't know about Ingrid King or her blog until now! Thank you so much. Buckley, on the cover, is so adorable! I would love to win the book! I'm going to be honest and tell you though, if Buckley gets ill or hurt I won't be able to read anymore of the book. I can't handle stories of animals who are ill or huty. I know it's wimpy of me but it just too painful. I feel so bad for the. I have the utmost respect for people like Ingrid who spend their days tending to and caring for animals. I think the stories she probably hears and asome of the things she sees would break my heart.

    Thank you for profiling this awesome woman!

    Aimala127@gmail.com

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  13. Everything you wrote is purrrrfectly true Ingrid, from one Feline who has lived many lives. Purrrr!

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  14. I always had a dog growing up, but when I moved in with my husband he did not want one, but agreed to a cat. Scout is 11 and has taught me so much. Now we also have Max, a dog, and he and Scout have learned much from each other ;)

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  15. Best wishes for continued success of your new book. I've been enjoying your very inspirational blog!

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  16. I'm already enjoying my copy (thank you) but wanted to chime in and say how much I enjoyed this post as well!

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  17. I can't wait to read Buckley's story! Holly hlfallison@yahoo.com

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  18. Thank you for all the wonderful comments!

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  19. I'm glad to discover a new animal book and Ingrid's blog! Thanks, Wendy!

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  20. What a beautiful post and gorgeous kitty. I love reading books about the lessons animals teach. They really are invaluable.

    nicole(at)linussblanket.com

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  21. Thank you, Ingrid, for your wonderful post. Thank you too to everyone for your great comments. I cannot imagine my life without my animals. I have learned so much from them over the years, dogs and cats alike.

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  22. It is hard to resist a book about a cat. What would we do without them?

    -Amy
    Life by Candlelight

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  23. I can't remember a time in my life when I've been without a cat. I love cats & books about cats. Thanks for the great post & the wonderful giveaway.

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  24. I'm so glad that you were able to eventually have cats in your life full-time. They are truly a gift to those of us who can indulge. Your account of life with Buckley is a beautiful and bittersweet story. Thank you so much for sharing it, Ingrid.

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  25. We don't own cats. We offer them a place to live, and offer lap space and in return we understand what a special day it is when they expose their bellies in trust, rub up against us to get our scent on them and require cream after they are brushed. To have their attention is an earned trust... and once you earn that.. you wouldn't trade it for the world. Lesson learned. Can wait to read your book Ingrid. One way or another. One cat lover to another... the best always Tammy

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  26. Thank you to all who commented and entered the giveaway.

    I used random.org to select the winner and the lucky reader is Diane of Bibliophile by the Sea! Congratulations,Diane!

    **GIVEAWAY CLOSED**

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