Two things will never settle in me:
- Human ignorance about how to share life with animals
- Human abuse of animals
The ignorance rips my heart. Animals know a lot more about living than (too many) humans realize. Even science is catching on – after years of insensitive “using” of animals to test their theories.
It’s not loving to treat animals like human babies. How is that different from putting them in a zoo in the name of entertainment or education? Make the effort to learn about animals in their own turf. Watch animals as themselves.
It’s not acceptable to train animals to perform human acts or live like humans. It’s a form of abuse. Pets are meant to be cared for and loved, but not as a replacement for a human. Love them as an animal. They need nature to exercise their animalness. How would it feel to be kept only inside, contained under someone’s rule?
Worried about what animals do to the balance of nature? Look at the imbalance caused by humankind. I remember my shock over seeing lock systems where salmon are trying to swim upstream to spawn. Humans decide how many to allow through the locks in the name of “management”. Fisherman have had to experience with the consequences of so-called management. For thousands of years, before governments created Ministries of Fisheries, the salmon managed admirably and managed to feed man and beast alike. Sure, nature gets itself out of balance – according to our perceptions – but it ceaselessly does everything to bring balance back.
Someone talked about seeing an elephant in a zoo. Did they believe they saw authenticity? They viewed a majestic creature driven neurotically docile by humans after being ripped away from its herd, habitat and happiness; in other words, from its soul.
Animals encroaching on us? Who was here first? As a child, I freely roamed the wilds of Alberta with my little dog. I was never bothered by a bear, cougar, lynx, coyote or moose. Only one creature scared my heart into overdrive: that happy dog darting freely in and out of the bush.
Animal abuse forces me to face my rage. One part of my shadow side is a hope that abusers live a long, slow, lingering and agonizing process when they finally face their ugliness. The need to dominate can be applied to dominating their journey into a healthy respect for nature.
Yes, wild animals can be dangerous. They’re stuck in the middle – between human’s territorial ignorance and protecting their young, food and territory. Of course they’ll attack if provoked or starving. They don’t want to dominate us. They simply want to eat, sleep and raise their young.
Ignorance and abuse can take subtle form. A few years ago, a Woman told me she had ordered a very expensive cat from a breeder in Toronto. The breeder was putting the kitten on a plane so it could be picked up at the Victoria Airport. I bit my tongue as I thought of the process this kitten would undergo.
A few weeks later, I ran into The Woman, “Did you get your kitten?”
“Yes, we picked him up, but I don’t know what we’re going to do. He won’t eat. I’ve had him to the Vet, we’ve tried all sorts of things. I’m really scared he’s going to die. Poor little Scruffy…”
“Scruffy? Is that his name?”
“Yah, you should have seen him when we first saw him in his carrier in the airport. Hair standing in peaks, looking half drowned. He looked so funny! I decided we’d call him Scruffy.”
“I think this little guy has a story to tell. Would you like me to see if I can tap into his world and find out what’s going on?”
She’d been to an animal whisperer presentation a few years before so I knew she’d be receptive.
Fortunately, it was as though Scruffy had been waiting for someone to listen. He described his shock over being taken from his mother. He panicked over the carrier as hecarried outside into winter weather. Cold during the car trip to the airport, it was nothing compared to being in the belly of the plane. He nearly froze as water continuously dripped and splashed over him. The noise frightened him and he panted with panic throughout the flight.
Plus he hated his name, Scruffy. He pointed out how it sounded like a snarl and a hiss. Saying his name made us sound like enemies.
He was heart broken. He couldn’t eat.
I phoned The Woman and told her, “Here’s what you need to do. Apologize to him. Make sure you’re sincere and that your tone matches your words. Tell him you are sorry for this whole messy ordeal. Promise him you will never do that to him again. Promise him he will never be put in an airplane again or have to travel without you being by his side protecting him. Let him know how beautiful he is and how you want to love him for a long, long time. And give him a new name.”
“What name does he want?” she asked.
“I don’t know. You’ll have to observe him carefully so he can show you.”
“I promise to do it all.” She did. She was obviously sincere because after a few minutes, the little cat went to his bowl and began lapping milk on his own. Soon he accepted a bit a food. And then he curled into a ball and slept.
Months later, she described how one frightened and heart-broken kitten turned into a trusting, healthy, happy and loving pet – living under a new name: Zeus.