Lessons from Leo

Leo and Hana morning smooch
Leo and Hana morning smooch

As we have been planning for our upcoming adventure, one of the dilemmas that had to be addressed was how to make the cat comfortable living in a small camper space with two dogs, the parrot and us.  As fate would have it, Leo decided not to go. He sadly passed away recently and will now join the journey in spirit only.

Whenever we have lost a pet, we like to reflect upon the lessons that that creature has brought to our lives and ask ourselves how we are better people for having the privilege of sharing part of our lives with them. Those who arouse intense feelings in us are potent teachers.  Leo, like all of the others, had a lesson to teach and we want to be sure to learn it, especially at this time of loss. We would like to share that with you what we think we have learned from being with Leo. Appreciating his gifts to us helps us to cope with the loss of his cheerful  and loving presence.

There is a backstory to Leo and how we all came to be together; a story of Chance Encounters.

Arnie and I were in the same class in high school. We were dear friends back then who took different paths in life. We each were married 25 years, single about 10, and then found one another again as a result of a Chance Encounter. As we grew closer and considered making a new life together, we faced a bit of a dilemma. I had two little dogs, a fussy old African Grey and a couple of cherished Bearded Dragons. Arnie had a huge orange bachelor cat; an only child who had not been exposed to many other people but him. We were unsure how we would combine all of the step children and be fair to all. Our commitment to our animals was uncompromising and we would not sacrifice anyone’s safety or comfort………..but we had to try. Animals and people sometimes get second chances for happy lives and, after all these years, this was our second chance for a happy life together.

rub my tummy

Enjoying my second chance!

Fear not! Despite the fact that this formerly feral guy had to scrap and fight for the first part of his life, the bachelor cat walked through the door and took command of the household with a very Buddha nature.  Leo set the tone for tolerance and acceptance from the first moment in his new house with his new family members. He walked in, not with typical kitty arrogance, but with a curiosity and zest for exploring these new relationships. His gentle and sweet manner of introducing himself to everyone established a balance of equals among all of the other species. He intrinsically knew how to behave to be in right relationship with each and every creature he would now share a home with. He adjusted his demeanor to make everyone comfortable with the biggest guy on the block. He became the 18 pound gentle giant and not the feline bully that he could have chosen to be.

Hana and LeoThe Bachelor falls in love with the Princess.

As an added perk, Leo fell head over heels in love with one of the dogs, appearing not to understand that he was a cat and she was a Princess. He never gave up trying to win her affection, lying next to her, tapping her gently on the rump, chasing her joyfully down the hallway. Despite her typical Japanese Chin aloofness, it was enough for him to get up each day and see that she was there. He generously needed little from life other than to be quietly close to her. Here are the lessons we learned from our time with Leo.


Lesson One:       Leo moved past his history and right into the present moment, seemingly grateful to be able to set a new norm and create more positive karma. He came to his present situation open and accepting that today is a new day. He taught the lesson that baggage from the past does not define our lives going forward.

Lesson Two:       Leo modeled how to choose to be a peaceful participant in his daily life and each of the others followed his example. He was the feline embodiment of, “As ye sow, shall ye reap.” Despite the challenges of living with all of the other animals, he chose never to be cross at anyone and always to be willing to step aside, taking their well-being into account.

Lesson Three:    Leo loved Hana. If Karma follows intention, he intended only to be in right relationship with the one he loved. He must surely have created some great Karma! What better lesson could we all learn?

Leo 2011


2 thoughts on “Lessons from Leo

  1. Oh Barb, that was so beautiful. I’ve forwarded it on to someone who is going through a difficult time and hope that it changes her day as it has mine. Thank you


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