She asked an older neighbor to watch her pets. His letter of gratitude is everything.

When older people get lonely, interacting with pets can be a game-changer.

Sometimes when we're in the younger, busier time of our lives it's easy to forget—or not even realize—that our elderly friends and neighbors might be lonely. But very often, people who have long been retired, who may have already said goodbye to many of their friends or who have physical limitations that make it difficult to get out to visit people can find themselves alone most of the time. Feelings of loneliness can lead to depression and other health risks, in addition to simply being not very enjoyable.

A viral Reddit post offers a good reminder of this fact, but in the most heartwarming way.

Reddit user u/SnooCupcakes8607 shared a photo of a typed letter with the caption: "I went on a vacation 2 weeks ago, and let my neighbor babysit my pets. Shortly after I got back home, I received this letter from him in the mail that made me smile and cry. I’d like to share it here."


"Good afternoon," the letter begins. "This letter is regarding your vacation two weeks ago, and how you let me babysit Smokey, Oreo, and Jennifer. I'd just like to give you a letter of thanks."

(The letter doesn't specify what kind of pets Smokey, Oreo and Jennifer are, but the original poster later shared that they are a German shepherd, "the crankiest little beagle you’ve seen in your life," and a cat named Oreo.)

Then he continued:

"As you know, I'm an old man. You don't see me outside often anymore, as these joints aren't as lively as they used to be. To add to that, two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, my dad got diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. After his death, I was left alone in my home. I don't have a wife or kids. I could go to sleep one day and never wake up again. Every day is just sitting around and wondering what I have done for this world.

Until I met Smokey, Oreo, and Jennifer.

Your pets are the cutest, funniest, and most troublesome (In a good way, don't worry, they didn't mess up my house too much!) individuals. They gave me the motivation to restart my life again. I started waking up early in the mornings. I began to take walks outside with your pets for the first time in years. Every 10 minutes, whenever I felt sad for a second, they would bark or rub against my leg and make me laugh.

The highlight of their stay was when I took them to the park. It was the longest time I've spend outside in a while. It didn't just bring back pet interaction, I also met other people, started talking, and made friends with a handful of fellow human beings. I was so happy to finally be able to talk with friends again, interact with others, and feel like I'm part of the human race.

I realize I sound very existential right now, but I'm telling the truth. It's nice knowing that I'm doing something for someone, even if it's my neighbor.

I adopted two dogs soon after. (You may have been hearing noise from my home, pardon them!) I now take regular walks to the park with them and talk with friends I made there. Anyways, I'd just like to say: thank you so much. You brought back meaning to my life. And that's all that matters.

Sincerely,

Robert (P.S. I think it's time for you to mow the lawn, haha!)"

People absolutely loved Robert's letter—and Robert himself, judging from some of the comments:

"Robert is a national treasure and I take anything less to be an insult!"

"I wouldn’t just mow my lawn, but Robert’s too. Forever."

"Robert really is the good in all of us. He must be protected at all costs."

Some people related to Robert, having found a new zest for life after getting pets of their own. Others joked that the whole letter was just an elaborate, "Midwest-nice" way to tell the poster their lawn needed attention. Some doubted the veracity of the letter, but even if it's not real, the comments from people sharing how their elderly loved ones had been helped by neighbors sharing their pets with them show that animals really can help people who are lonely find more connection and purpose in their lives.

It's a good reminder to check in with older folks around us and to share the joy of our pets with people who might be lonely. You never know whose life you might touch with your furry friends.

Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

Keep Reading Show less
Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

Keep Reading Show less

Sandy Hook school shooting survivors are growing up and telling us what they've experienced.

This story originally appeared on 12.15.21


Imagine being 6 years old, sitting in your classroom in an idyllic small town, when you start hearing gunshots. Your teacher tries to sound calm, but you hear the fear in her voice as she tells you to go hide in your cubby. She says, "be quiet as a mouse," but the sobs of your classmates ring in your ears. In four minutes, you hear more than 150 gunshots.

You're in the first grade. You wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus and magic. You're excited about losing your front teeth. Your parents still prescreen PG-rated films so they can prepare you for things that might be scary in them.

And yet here you are, living through a horror few can fathom.

Keep Reading Show less