Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – August 18, 2004
Animals, Pets & People
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – August 18, 2004 – For as long as I can remember I have shared my life, my heart and my home with pets. I’m a better person for the experience and I’ve learned a thing or two from my animals. I had a cat of my own from the time I was three years old and our family always had dogs. I was horse crazy as a kid and saved my money to buy my own horse – Charcoal when I was eleven.
He was killed on the side of the road about four months after I got him. That was my first major life trauma and I can still remember it as vividly as the day it happened. Some animals stay with you for a lifetime and Charcoal’s memory is one of those. He was a big, sweet-natured dapple-grey creature with a loving nature and he adored people.
I’ll remember his gentle soul always. As kids, my brothers and I had dogs, cats, turtles, goldfish, pigeons, newts and various and sundry other assorted little beings – like hamsters and guinea pigs that other kids weren’t allowed to keep. They all ended up at our house, along with countless stray dogs and cats who somehow found their way to our doorstep. They were never turned away.
I can recall the names of many of our pets growing up and the animals I’ve owned as an adult – Ginny, Burry, Mickey Muffet, Tomato Face (a cat who loved to lick the inside of a Campbell’s tomato soup tin), Turk, Ichabod, Rex, Blackie, Sojo, Schnook, Timmy, Gutty, Scattergood, McCabe, Marble, Alabaster, Majara and Boadi. Not to forget my two resident critters – Augie and Ziggy – The Alphabet Boys.
They get under my feet, talk to me non-stop at the most inopportune times and generally drive me bonkers – but I can’t imagine life without them. Making the decision to share your life with a pet or pets isn’t one to make lightly. They experience all the same emotions that we do. They are lonely, sad, depressed, frightened, devilish and happy just like we are. The difference is – they are never mean, vengeful, calculating, judgmental, small-minded, greedy, rude or spiteful. They love us genuinely and unconditionally.
I’m always amazed at the people who have pets until the “kids” come along. Suddenly the pets are relegated to the basement, back yard, garage, Humane Society, turned loose at the cottage (where they will be able to fend for themselves) or worse still deserted on a country road during a week-end drive. Given a reversal of obligation, our pets would never abandon us. Animals feel it when they’re not loved, abused, ignored or banished to a lesser place in a household. They grieve the loss of human contact and affection – just as we do when a friend or loved one leaves us.
I believe that the way people around the world treat animals, is a window on our advancement, or lack thereof, as humans. The recent killing of thousands of stray cats and dogs in Greece in preparation for the Olympics is a perfect example of mans’ appalling lack of respect for the rights of other living creatures. Any animal that was deemed to be a nuisance in the streets of Athens was killed. So while athletes competed for Olympic gold and Greece endeavoured to impress the world – the very thing that would have made the country great was missing – its humanity.
We (mistakenly) believe that have dominion over our world and that means we have an obligation to protect the earth, nature and the creatures who cannot defend themselves. We are slow to learn this lesson. From the kindness we show our pets to the way we treat our wildlife – we have a responsibility to do so to the best of our ability.
Individually we do a fine job – globally we should be ashamed. However, it’s never too late to learn kindness and compassion and each of us can be an ambassador for animals by exhibiting love, caring and kindness to our own pets. The biggest gift you will ever give your children is to teach them compassion – it is the core value that makes a fine human being!