Joy untroubled

Mama's cockatiel, Pumpkin, loved to eat off Daddy's plate.  August 2005

Mama’s cockatiel, Pumpkin, loved to eat off Daddy’s plate. August 2005

“Love the animals: God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I don’t know of anything that can lighten the mood as much as a cute or playful animal.  I realize many situations make it impossible to have a pet in the home, but I hope everyone has the chance to make friends with at least one or two animals, even if you have to visit other people’s pets.  The therapeutic effect of interacting with an animal can cut through stress with a relaxing joy not found anywhere else.

During the long months of Jeff’s chemotherapy, we would occasionally have delightful visits with some of the therapy dogs that work at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda.  The dogs were polite and well trained, really impressive with their obedience to their handlers and their sociable approaches to each person in the room.  Seeing the dogs in their military garb (wearing camouflage jackets with ranks and other insignias) always brought a smile to our faces.  They spread cheer to so many people facing illness and sorrow.

Your animal friends might be wild birds and squirrels, farm chickens, sheep or goats, or a household bird, fish, cat, or dog.  Whatever creature you choose (or whatever chooses you), I wish you the peace, comfort, laughter and fun of watching an animal today.

Related Posts

Curiosity conquers fear

Represent civilization

The power to speak


  1. singleseatfighterpilot

    You didn’t mention “bear”. Go to and click on “Very talented Russian bear and his awesome trainer”

    • Eric, this is a delightful video that brought a smile to my face. What an amazing bear! I didn’t realize they could be so agile on two feet. I found it on page three of the link you posted, but had to play it in YouTube at because my computer won’t always play from all sites and formats. Thanks!

      • singleseatfighterpilot

        Thank you, Julia for assiduously pursuing JOY via this blog. I know, it ain’t easy.

        • No, it’s not, but it may well be what is standing between me and insanity right. As Barney Fife would say, when it comes to despair, “WE’VE GOT TO NIP IT IN THE BUD!”

  2. Ryan

    We have two baby yellow bellied sliders that I enjoy watching. One is fearless and eats the lion’s share of food. Consequently, the second is smaller but is my favorite.

    • Ryan, I would like the smaller one better too – I am always for the underdog! 🙂

  3. Animals are one of God’s greatest gifts! They continually teach us unconditional love and how to be lighthearted!

    • Yes, I’m so grateful for the humor and joy they bring into our lives! Thanks for being here.

      • Carolyn

        While I was taking cheom there was a lady that would bring in a beautiful white dog. The ladies were always happy to see ,?, can’t remember the name. Animals can make us feel better and you are ready to have anything that will make life better. Is Jeff still in hospial, have a great day.

        • Carolyn, yes, Jeff is still in the hospital, for at least 4-5 more days. The liver still looks good (thank God for that!) but he’s having a hard time with the incisions healing well, due to the chemo, lack of nourishment from the abdominal blockage, and other factors. I feel so sad for all he’s going through, but he’s hanging in there. Unbelievably tough and still pretty stoic. Keep those prayers coming – love to you and Terry. Matt and I have been praying for you each night.

  4. Sheila

    Julia, that really looks like bacon and eggs…. was! Haha. I have to ask if Pumpkin liked grits? My prayers this morning were many! I walked, felt like you were with me.

    • Sheila, Pumpkin was a good Southern bird, so of course he loved grits! I was indeed with you in spirit on that walk today. I’ll take a virtual walk with you every day until I’m able to return to actual walking someplace other than hospital corridors (luckily Walter Reed is a city itself, so I can easily do several miles there in a day if I make the time). Thanks for your ongoing prayers!

      • Sheila

        Julia, for a smile….one more thing. I have a t-shirt: GRITS “Girls Raised In The South”!
        That’s us. Sheila

  5. Sheila

    Reply to Eric:
    Eric, I so enjoyed the “bear” video. I loved that it was in a natural setting. I saved it for the grandchildren. They’ll think it so cool! Sheila

    • singleseatfighterpilot

      Thanks Sheila. We hope to be with two of our grandchildren this weekend, and “the bear”, I am certain will be a hit. Did you notice, after he managed to get seated in the chair, he did a “feel my bicep”, macho-celebratory motion? (As is the case with Julia, I feel Like you’re an old friend 🙂


    Sen_t from my Verizon Wireless Phone

    • Hi Amy, this is all that came through. You must have had the dreaded “disappearing text” that plagues me so often! I would like to have some words with the person who designed the “select all” in such a way that it can delete with a single key without warning! I don’t know how to fix this feature, either. In Word you can always just hit undo, but not here. I hope your comment wasn’t long and profound – please let us know what we missed!

  7. My father was against keeping pets or any kind of domestic animals. So I have no idea how it feels to have a pet. But I remember we had a goat while I was 5 or 6 but it did not survive for long and its death made us sad. Papa said, ‘I told you!’ May be he was right – I don’t know.
    What kind of pets do you have?

    • Bindu, we were never allowed to have animals inside the house while I was growing up, although we did have a dog when I was very young, and later, a female cat who would have kittens frequently – which meant we would end up with MANY cats until we found homes for them! At one point we had six cats! Right now we just have a small dog, but if I had the time and space for it, I would love to have more. Some friends of ours in Tennessee have all sorts of animals – horses, goats, dogs, cats, I’m probably leaving some out — so I get to read about their adventures and I guess that’s the next best thing. I do think having pets exposes children to many hard lessons, most of all the sorrow we feel when a beloved animal dies. But that’s a part of life we cannot avoid, and I think the pain of parting with human family later is made easier by early experiences with loss. With pets we also teach our children that taking care of each other is not always fun, but ALL of us require some loving maintenance! When our sons were growing up they were very good about feeding the dog or walking him, and I think this taught them some responsibility as well as teaching them that one comes to love whatever one takes care of. Before we got our dog I used to think I could never stand having one inside the house, but I have changed my mind completely about that 🙂 although we still do not allow him on the furniture, and we have to keep him on a leash outside which means he never gets into anything really messy.

  8. My heart just knows so much joy when I’m in the company of an animal. Be it my own lovely pals, Blossum and Petals or just a cow on the side of the road. Life is so clear when I look into the eyes of a loved pet. I don’t have kids, but I imagine parents must know this feeling too. My heart just sighs when I hear the robins sing outside my windows, he’s there every morning to great me. I’ve seen what they can do for people at the worst time of their lives. Are friend lost his wife a year ago in June, I hate to think where he’d be without Tia, their adorable retriever. She’ll just never know what a lifesaver she’s been, without even trying. Thats the power of pure love.

    • I agree! I have known people who were saved from despair or grief by adopting a bird, dog or cat. And watching wildlife is also quite therapeutic. I get a big kick out of all animals, even frogs and lizards (snakes, not so much! although the little non-poisonous ones are cute). I have to limit my time online or I could get addicted to watching funny animal videos on YouTube. We are really so blessed to be surrounded with so much that is beautiful and good.


  1. Perversely human | Defeat Despair

Leave a Reply to Julia Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: