Posted by: Abby Caplin, MD | January 29, 2010

Healing Souls

Bambie, Kitzeleh, Kelly, Sheba, Ruth, Cleo, Maggie, Laila, Tzipi, Sarti, Houdini, Thea.

What do these names have in common?

These are the names of my pets, past and present. Can you tell which one was the dog, the cat, the goldfish, the rat, the hermit crab, or the parakeet?

My favorite pet was Laila. She’d run back and forth, and loved to be tickled. She’d make a little high-pitched laughing chirp when I played with her. Laila belonged to the species Rattus norvegicus!

I’ve met so many people who benefit from sharing their lives with another little being. A woman once told me her story of being bedridden for almost a year. A little sparrow lived above her window, and she’d leave birdseed for him. Feeding him was the most she could manage to do at the time. After awhile, he brought his “wife” and then his babies to visit every day. Many times, even though food was available, he didn’t eat. He just came to spend time with her. She now cares for his great-great-great-great-great “grandchicks!” The important part of this story is that he continues to give her life great meaning. She knows that her relationship with this little bird helped save her.

When we allow our hearts to be touched, we can heal.



  1. Dear Dr. Abby,

    I love this post, and the image I get of you tickling Laila!

    Pets (and wild critters too) have nurtured me through many rough times. My cat, Bilbo (yes, named after the Hobbit) was my steadfast companion for 14 years in multiple places. He unfortunately got tongue cancer after a long and happy life. I was with him until the end.

    The woman who connected to sparrows is beautiful to me also — such a precious, open heart! These days I love my rabbit, roadrunner, quail, and bobcat visitors. Tonight at sunset, the bobcat posed on the fence corner, stretched luxuriantly, and gave herself a bath. I am very grateful to witness such things.

    Please keep on writing — I love reading your posts!

  2. Dear Pam,

    Thanks for your message! And I can imagine you watching a bobcat at sunset. What a beautiful place you must live in.

    If you get a good photo of your “critters,” please send them to me, and I will post if you like!

    Many thanks,

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