I am an animal lover. I always have been. We had a fish tank, turtles that we would bring home from the pond and feed hamburger meat, rabbits that we bred and sold the bunnies to families. I was given a cockatiel on my sixth birthday, and he lived until I was 28. Chuck was no ordinary bird. He was my best friend.
Everywhere I went, he went. If I left the living room to get a bowl of cereal and he happened to be hanging out on the back of the couch, he flew after me and landed on my shoulder. We used to eat breakfast together before school. I would put him on the table and give him some cheerios while I ate my cereal. Cockatiels are in the parrot family and tend to be smarter than the average canary. But, I like to think that Chuck was special. He used to do tricks and play little games; I took care of him for 22 years. He was a great companion. The day he died I was heartbroken. I lost my best friend, my childhood pet. I was married and in my second house by the time Chuck passed away. He had been a part of my life for so long. It was amazing.
AJ loves his first dog, Punkin. He talks about her all the time and how she played mommy protector around him. She used to sleep under his crib. She was a great dog, and he misses her to this day even though she has been gone 20+ years.
The day we brought her home AJ and I became a family. We potty trained her, taught her to walk on a leash, doted on her, brought her on vacations and taught her how to be a good citizen. We couldn't wait to bring a baby home so Lucy could be a mommy. As the years went on and there was no human baby, Lucy became more of our baby than ever. She got us through some very rough times due to her natural charm and amusing characteristics. Plus she is the softest dog I have ever met. She makes a great crying companion.
I believe in the healing power of animals. Humans need animals to teach them love and compassion. You can learn a lot by loving an animal. Some people will never "get" that. But, they are missing out. Lucy continues to be a great source of love and companionship for all of us. She is now Min man's sister. It is wonderful to see them together. Finally Lucy has a sibling. And, she acts like most older sisters would. She thinks he's in the way half the time and wants all the attention focused on her. They also fight over food.
I remembered something I witnessed last Fall that is still utterly amazing to me. It showed me just how much animals do feel despite what many people say. As I was driving down a side street I saw a squirrel squirming near the side of the road. I wanted to stop and help move it off the road so it could die in peace; I didn't want it getting run over again. I circled back around to try and help the squirrel. I saw that another squirrel was standing at the opposite side of the road a little skittish as my car inched forward. I kept going and pulled over and watched the squirrel who was now behind me. He went over to his suffering friend and tried to pick him up off the road and move him to a safe spot. I watched his several attempts at doing so. After cars stopped passing by he successfully carried his friend to safety under a huge oak tree. I was fascinated. People may have thought I was nuts, but I could not stop watching this squirrel try and save his friends life. He licked the wounds and hovered around trying to protect him as he clearly was having a hard time breathing. Eventually the injured squirrel died and his friend picked him up in his mouth and carried him up into the tree- safe at last. It was one of the most touching things I had ever witnessed. That may sound silly but it was. I guess it's because you don't expect much from a squirrel. We don't expect a lot of from many animals, but they have a great capacity to love.
I never pegged myself as a big animal advocate. I believe in treating animals humanely and that people need animals, not the other way around. Maybe they benefit from our companionship, but it is us humans that live fuller lives when we co-exist with animals. Whether it is bird watching, having a fish pond in the back yard, visiting the zoo or rescuing a cat or dog. Their presence gives human life more meaning and teaches us that we cannot exist without them.
We will all succumb to the circle of life in due time.