What’s the name of your favorite pet?

We’ve all had at least one favorite pet that we just love to talk about when someone asks us this question. We answer fondly with its name, and love to tell stories and share the memories of our pet that seem always to be fresh in our mind.

For most of us it is probably a much loved dog or cat we are honored to recall. For me it’s Targa, my black, miniature poodle that was my running partner for 14 years. Just this last week I was bragging to an acquaintance about him.

But what I really want to talk about is a different type of pet – I call it Misery. For most of us this pet may only be present occasionally. Remember the new diet I began last week to end my addiction to thinking? Just like the start of any new diet — the temptations to stroke this pet last week were frequent.

And there are many for whom this pet is a constant presence. Undoubtedly, like me, you have at least one friend or associate that is obsessed with this pet. They use it to get attention, and love to talk about it endlessly to anyone who will listen. Let’s face it – it is so easy when life happens to go unconscious, to forget who we are and stroke the pet of misery.

I want to share with you a poem I wrote many years ago – My Pet Misery. An inebriated woman caused a scene waxing loud and long about her miserable life. I knew the next time she came into the restaurant I would have to address it with her lest it happen again.

The agony and dread I put myself through over our pending conversation birthed the poem. And I know these words were for me as well as for her – and for any one of us — who sometimes get obsessed with our misery. It is the last line of the poem that is the punch line.

By the way, there is a happy ending to this story. When she came into the restaurant a few days later apologizing for her actions, I told her my angst over the episode had inspired me to write a poem. She asked to read it, and with trepidation I gave it to her. A few weeks later she appeared again – saying “thank you” for changing her life. She told me she kept the copy of the poem in her wallet, and read it frequently to remind her to live differently.

Don’t you just love life-changing wake up moments? I am making a choice to consciously adopt a new pet – not one that I become obsessed with and constantly talk about – just one who is always quietly with me. Today, I am thinking I will name it Peace.

I’d love to know what you name your pet.

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