Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

Tales of critter kindness serve as a reminder for humans.

The devotion and intelligence of our animals includes incredible acts of kindness and heroism, which can make them life-saving animal angels in our lives. Here is a heart-opening selection of true pet stories. May they remind us of the collaborative partnership we share with all life.

The rat who paid it forward

A young boy bought a white rat to feed to his pet snake. By the time he got home, the boy changed his mind and decided to keep the rat as a pet, sparing the rat's life. One night, months later, toxic fumes from the family's garage began pouring into the boy's bedroom as he slept. The rat smelled the poisonous air, escaped from his cage in the bedroom and scratched on the boy's face until rousing the child from a near comatose state. The rat and the boy were saved. The white rat was the hero.

Sick as a dog

Taking his two dogs out for their daily walk, a man noticed that his usually alpha dog was lagging behind and acting strange. Wondering if the dog was ill, the man paused. Concerned for the dog, he walked back to his house. Once inside the house, the man had a heart attack and was too weak to crawl to the phone.

The alpha dog leaped into action, jumped on the kitchen counter and knocked the portable phone onto the floor next to his master. The second dog began licking the man's face, keeping him conscious. The man was able to dial 911 and he lived. Reflecting on the whole sequence of events, he realized there was nothing wrong with his alpha dog that fateful day; the dog was trying to get his owner to go home, sensing his master's impending heart attack.

Unlikely protector in a pet store

Stephanie Laland writes about special animal behaviors she observed as a pet store owner. The store had a section for parrots in which each bird had its own territorial perch on a live tree in the enclosure. All the branches had been "claimed" when she had to add a small green parrot into the cage. The little parrot went from branch to branch searching for a perch to share, and on every branch the resident parrot ran off the little bird. Finally, the little parrot tiptoed onto the branch of the biggest macaw. The pet store owner held her breath, anticipating the big bird would attack.

The little parrot looked timidly at the macaw. The larger bird spread its wings, and rather than chasing off the intruder, the little one ran under the big wing and was immediately welcomed. The macaw took care of the little parrot as long as the two were there.

Random acts of kindness rule

In addition to these and so many other true animal stories, there are daily videos posted on social media documenting interspecies acts of caring: dogs with kittens, baby birds with cats, wild animals with domestic animals, and more. It appears that animals, like humans, reveal their higher nature when practicing acts of kindness.

What's important to remember is that the simplest gestures of caring uplift both people and animals. In addition, practicing kindness is one more way to actively contribute to the tipping point in our global consciousness, making possible a collective world reality based on collaboration, compassion and love. PJH