As we speak, millions of Star Wars geeks like me are excitedly dissecting the newest film, The Force Awakens. A new generation of kids are good naturedly allowing their overly enthusiastic parents to accompany them to midnight showings, ply them with themed Lego builds, and dress them up in Chewbacca hoodies (okay, maybe that’s just me.)
The point is, Star Wars is more than a movie franchise; it’s a major cultural phenomenon. And as much of a hard time as people give George Lucas for the storytelling, there’s an awful lot of excellent life lessons one can glean from the series.
I’ve spent a lot of time watching the first six in preparation for this weekend, and I kept thinking about all the ways the themes are still relevant for me, even now, decades after the very first film.
So without further ado, here are my Top Pet Lessons I’ve Learned From Star Wars:
- “Do. Or Do not Do. There is No Try.”
Boy, Yoda really was a smart Jedi. I see people go down this road all the time with their pets: “I’m going to try and get him better trained.” “I’m going to try and get some weight off my Lab so he doesn’t need as many arthritis medications.” “Oh well, that didn’t work. Time to give up!”
If people can train cats to walk tightropes (I’ve seen it!), you can train your dog not to jump on people. Do.
- Everyone has bad days.
Remember when Episode One came out after years and years of waiting and all anyone could talk about was how bad the kid who played Anakin was and how much everyone hated Jar Jar Binks? Did George Lucas throw in the towel and disappear back into his millions of dollars? Nope, he dusted himself off and made a couple more movies. He even left Jar Jar in them.
Whether it’s housebreaking a puppy or learning how to give insulin to a new pet, some attempts are just not going to work out the first few times… and that’s okay.
- Never give up on redemption.
Luke was understandably miffed when he learned who his real father was, but it was his refusal to give up on the good he saw inside of Darth Vader that was the ultimate redemption for both of them. Even after he cut his hand off (thanks, Dad), Luke never abandoned his hope that his father still had something good inside of him.
If you ever want to go through five boxes of tissues in a single sitting, try watching some of the videos online of patient animal lovers working with a terrified abandoned pet and getting the transformation of a lifetime. With love and patience there really is no limit as to what a pet can achieve.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Princess Leia, with her big dual head buns and her metal bikini, inspired a generation of young girls with her butt-kicking ability and her refusal to let Jabba’s insulting costume choices keep her from doing what she had to do. She was one of the first truly tough young women I was exposed to in pop culture, and I know I’m not the only one who wanted to grow up and take the world by the laser.
And in the same vein, never assume little cuddly creatures have no bite. Case in point? Ewoks.
- Fear is the path to the dark side.
There are so many people out there who would like to drive a wedge in the community in order to further their own agenda, sell something, or gain a reputation. I see it all the time, from people who insist there is only one correct way to feed a pet, or that veterinarians are only in it for the money, or that people who choose to get their pet from a responsible breeder are terrible people. When you allow someone to stir up that degree of fear and mistrust, you give them power but you lose a lot of your own.
We’re all in this together, no matter whether or not we agree on all the same issues. A life of health and love with our pet companions is what we all want.
May the Force be with you.
Dr. Jessica Vogelsang
Image: Leigh Marriner / Flickr