the ones we care for

My mother used to say ‘never trust people who don’t like animals. It usually means they don’t like people either.’

Now, I was always a bit dubious of that advice, because the opposite doesn’t necessarily follow. I can think of plenty of people who love animals, but are quite indifferent to human beings. Still, mother’s words stuck. And I find that what I meet someone who doesn’t like animals, I am inevitably wary.

Animals are one of God’s greatest gifts. There is something extraordinary when a creature so different, so utterly other, gives you their love and their trust. Which is perhaps how God feels about us (or how we should feel about God — I can never make up my mind which way round it is).

Lots of us know this, and are glad for the animals we share our lives with. But everyone once in a while, you come across someone whose relationship with animals is extraordinary. Where the bond between person and animal transcends expectations, without any denial of the animal’s inherent dignity or otherness.

One such person is preparing to say goodbye to one of her cats tomorrow: a cat who by all rights should have died years ago, who was neglected and ill, and then rescued by my friend. This cat is one of the happiest most loving animals I have ever seen.

It will be a hard night. But I hope this friend knows that she has done a wonderful thing — sharing a bit of God’s love for creation, being fully present to a creature who is not like her, but whose life she has fulfilled.

Rest well, Mindy.

3 thoughts on “the ones we care for”

  1. I am most awfully sorry for your friend – that final gift is one of the hardest to make.

    My Mum used to say exactly the same thing. In charity, I try to think her wrong – but at the very bottom of my heart I am not wholly convinced. I think perhaps when a person has had no good experiences of animals as a child, or where they have had a positively bad one – there is an excuse to be made. They just cannot overcome early prejudice.

    For me, the complex bonds I have with my animals are among the most valuable in my life. I was thinking of that the other night … I had just found out that a symptom I had was very often one of a cancer with an unpromising cure rate. I did not want to bother the children over a possible false alarm. I felt very very alone. I was lying awake, thankful for the warm hard body and big head of my dog, comforting me even as he snored. I had found a good home for both dogs (in my head) and the cat, and had placed all three ponies. Then came the sheep.

    Panic. The oldest sheep is already past cull age. The youngest and most beloved (sorry, should not have favourites) I really really did not want to see in a commercial flock. I wanted to carry out my plan of keeping her first ewe lamb, preferable this year.

    Now, gentle reader, comes the complexity, or downright hypocrisy. I eat sheep. And not just any sheep, but my own sheep. Not the beloved breeding ewes, but the lambs, from whom I keep a suitable emotional distance. Admittedly I go to great lengths to ensure a quick and peaceful end for them and their births give their mothers great delight – but I do eat them. And it is worse than the chicken. Half of all chicken born are male, and if you want eggs you have to do something with the males – a short happy life, and a swift end still seems the best solution. But I don’t HAVE to breed the sheep. But my anguish for Polly and Cotton was real.

    I am happy to tell you, my imminent demise was a false alarm. There is nothing serious wrong with me, and the worst thing to happen was a mild scold for not having taken sympton for diagnosis earlier.

  2. I decided to check out Kimberly’s blog today. My PC is out of bounds at home due to decorating which is thankfully keeping me busy.

    The “mi” in my name is for Mindy and I’m not ready to change that.

    I am blessed that Mindy came into my life, and that I was able to provide the healthcare she needed in the knowledge that she enjoyed a good life. She missed out on her 16th birthday, but she was kissed many times every day. She entered my life feeling very scared with little confidence and probably had good reason not to like people.

    She left this earth feeling loved, and happy, and the boss in my home. She loved everyone who visited and wasn’t shy about sitting on people’s laps.

    Sadie (the “sa” in my name) is more vocal and a tad bored now that Mindy isn’t at home.

    When I’m done decorating and feel ready, I’ll increase my family to include Monte, Sadie and 2 Kittens.

    Kimberly is such a great friend and saying a prayer for Mindy on her last day here was so good.

    Thanks Kimberly

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