Saturday, June 13, 2009
For the Love of Animals
I have been around animals most of my adult life. When my kids were little there was the usual assortment of ducks and bunnies and hamsters - - which I quickly realized were not “living toys”, but living, feeling entities that became my responsibility to feed and care for and teach my children to respect and care for.
We had a wonderful nature center in the town where I raised my kids, and we used to spend hours there helping take care of the animals that were kept there (many of which had been injured and brought to them to “fix“.) As my kids grew, they learned a great respect for all living things, and they became true nature lovers; learning that the Hippocratic words“first of all, do no harm” could be applied to the footprints we all make as we journey through life.
I have had many dogs as an adult, one, two or three at a time, and horses were my passion for years. With each addition of a puppy or needy dog, or a horse we saved from the “killer traders” (horse meat was a prized commodity at the time in Europe, and horses going through auctions most of the time wound up as meat instead of a working or pleasure horse), I learned each animal brought with it it’s own needs and a lot of added work. Funny how light that work seemed, because there was a peace and balance to it that made even the feeding and grooming, exercising and cleaning, that having a 20 stall boarding stable entails easy.
Life changes, career paths change, venues change, loved ones scatter, and in the blink of an eye years are but memories. But in the best of those years and this year too, there is the love of animals in my life that brings a quiet corner of unconditional love and joy that reminds me of the words of Lao Tzu :
“I have just three things to teach
Simplicity, Patience, Compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and in thoughts,
You return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
You accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
You reconcile all beings in the world.”
I was reminded of all this by watching my son. He was badly injured in an accident 2 years ago, and his rehabilitation has been slow and sporadic. Recently he bought a sheep (he’s always chosen the beat of his own drummer). After naming his sheep “Jack”, he started spending many hours out of doors daily talking to his new friend and building trust between them. He’s taught Jack to walk on a lead and they go to the park every day. Jack stands at the back fence “talking” and waiting for my son to come out at their appointed time.
Watching the bond build between them, and the honest pleasure they take in each other’s company is great. Greatest yet, is to see how much improvement has come about in my son’s attitude and rehab.. Animals, unconditional love and joy,
brought about simply, with patience and compassion.