"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures o n earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
We all adore ours.
Their lifespans usually ensure that we will someday lose them.
Or we have already.
Closer than siblings or parents or human pals.
The ones we are closest to in life.
One sage has written that the one thing we remember on our deathbeds is the love of our dog.
The closest thing to unconditional and continuous love we'll ever know, the love of our dogs, cats, birds, horses, bunnies, hamsters, turtles, and o n into the exotic
ones like iguanas and weasels and the domestic sweeties like cows and sheep, we've all had them if we were lucky enough to draw nice parents.
And lost them.
Along with the treasures we may have buried with them in our backyards, our touching funerals accompanied with some flowering weeds, we'd tucked in some pieces of our hearts too, with their favorite toy, perhaps, or a photo of us in the best of times, together, smiling, both of us.
But there is, doubtless, maybe now in a dusty storage space we pay rent o n dutifully every month, or maybe in our parents' attic, or in our own closets, a box full of heavenly memories in some sacred, iconic treasures whose very sight and smell rivet us backward into pleasanter times we'd o nce shared with beings whose every breath had spelled out paradise for us, whose existence had redeemed our childhoods in so many ways that we will never be able to pay back the soul's debt except in some afterlife that we owe to them.
And when we reach those pearly gates, if our best friends are not there to greet us first, we will, like the sweet old man who had died o n a great episode of The Twilight Zone, turn and refuse to go in if our dogs and cats and others are not allowed entry.
In that story, of course, the man passed the test of the angels, and understood that any heaven not filled with all our other animal species is no heaven at all, he and his dog wandered along the no man's realms until the true Saint Peter greeted them both heartily and welcomed them in.
The other had been hell, of course, without other animals, containing only humans.
If we don't race to stop human overpopulation, one child-free person at a time, we will be condemned to live in such a hell we're making right now on Earth, by the way.
Back to our treasure boxes, our stashes of memories, now.
Somewhere is a box or a series of boxes with perhaps a rusty old dog collar, or a few snippets of beautiful glossy fur, an old jingling plastic ball or one made of rubber that once delighted your cat, or a dangling toy that once clung to the top of your parakeet's cage and caused your bird to sing his heart out.
Toys you'd saved your pennies for in a little piggy bank, or collected your weekly allowance in your sweaty little palm and found a way to get to the local pet shop, presented your wad of coins or wadded up tawdry bills to the check-out lady who smiled down at you as she put your shiny toy gift to your most beloved pet into a plastic bag.
No holiday was complete without a present for Fido or FiFi or Ralph or Tweetie, and we all remember sitting under a Christmas tree with our best pal whose main source of joy that day was running through the torn, frothy paper wrappings and discarded chaos of boxes and ribbons strewn across the floor, and with cats the adventure was even more delectable - sparring with breeze-born phantom clouds of transparent tissue papers and ambushing unseen imaginary adversaries under box tops provided an awesome hour or two as we lay among the trash, laughing our little heads off!
The tacky little treasures to our loved o nes were the cheapest and the most impromptu, like an unnoticed newspaper that became an irresistible seating mat for a contented cat, or the perennial broken branch chew toy discovered in the yard by your doggy, or a wad of new raw cotton your hamster reveled in as he or she shredded it into just the right consistency for a cozy bed.
Such natural appreciation for even the very simplest things in life have always made us smile, and now, I hope, you still lean in doorways, perhaps with a steaming cup of tea, and smile as you watch your current pet romping in the yard and barking at the wind who dares to make the trees dance and sway, as if it were a miracle, or your cat as he does his "walky-walky" thing, one leg at a time, entranced, atop a pillow, making it just right before settling in for an afternoon nap.
Treasures remain, tucked into the corners of our lives, and our hearts, and as we go through life, hopefully we meet and greet, rescue and protect, invite into our lives and our souls, ever more remarkable and utterly unique companion beings of other species.
The enrichment of our lives is immeasurable, with doctors telling us that those people adopted by pets live much longer, happier, healthier lives, and with what we who love outside our own breed know - life is just sweeter with pets.
So cherish your shoeboxes or cigar boxes or nice, lined store-bought treasure chests filled with the musty aroma or your once-upon-a-time pals, and always invite new loves into your life.
You'll live long and prosper.
And one day, you'll all be together again!
Meanwhile, cherish the little teddy bear you only keep now because it bears the torns edges where your cat used to sharpen his nails, or the table next to your bed that you keep o nly because it still has still the bite marks from your puppy when he was tiny.
You wouldn't have it any other way.
And walk gently toward the little graves in your yard, and bring them bouquets of new spring clovers, if you like, or better yet - plant some sweet wildflowers there, and know that some of the molecules that o nce made up your precious pet will now bloom into new, beautiful life!
And even if our pets were only imaginary, and we slept only with our stuffed teddy bears, at least we all dreamed of a time when we could share our lives with real live animal pets, and now, as adults, we can be owned by as many pets are we like!
And we can follow our hearts' desire to sleep now and forever, with a doggy, cat, ferret, or even an elephant on our own beds.
And we can all adopt virtual pets too, among many wild species, with only a touch of a finger and a click on the computer, every day!
and help some now!