Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Love on the Streets

I have always had a soft spot for a stray. I could attribute this, I guess, to the fact that I know what it’s like to be cold and hungry and to have no idea where I might lay my head at night. I might attribute it, too, to being the product of physical care with very little emotional attention or affection. If my sisters and I were clothed and fed, my parents figured they had done their job. I was never homeless. Or abandoned. But we moved around a lot and lived in houses that, by all means, should have been condemned. But I don’t believe this is the reason for my concern for animals that experience the same.

Don’t we all need a place, a place to know we are safe and warm and loved and fed? I cried when Bambi’s mother died. I was six. I refused to finish the movie. The idea of a child growing without a mother, growing without a home, without love and connection, without a feeling of being special and wanted and welcome, was too much for me to bear. I could not participate in nor entertain the thought of such a sad affair.

Oh, come on, now, some will say. They are animals after all. Yes, but do they breathe? Do they love and play and feel with all their heart? How are they different, then, from you and me? We have brains that they do not. This is the argument I always hear. If this is true, tell me then why these creatures are on the streets? Tell me why we refuse to spay or neuter or train or watch, destining them to end their days in shelters or suffering neglect or abuse. I have been in those shelters when dogs are being led to their death. It is not a picture I think many could stomach. “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” Paul McCartney said that. “If kill shelters had glass walls, everyone would be a responsible pet owner.” I said THAT.

The goal of writing is to entertain or educate or move to action of various sort. I am not certain what I wish to come from this particular piece. I can only tell you what is in my heart and the anger that I sometimes feel toward a supposedly intelligent breed. Humans are not as smart as they might think. And animals are not as soulless as you might have formerly believed.

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