Several years ago I saw a film at a church function that was not only hilarious and entertaining but left me with a feeling of awe at God for creating the dumb animals with wisdom, intelligence, human-like motives and attributes, and built-in instinct for survival as they go about their lives. They protect their young just like humans do. And they give us so much joy and happiness and appreciation of the beauty around us. The name of the film was Animals Are Beautiful People!
One of the things that I remembered distinctly was a mother duck who, in the presence of danger, feigned injury to attract the predator to her instead of to the ducklings who were hiding in the thickets nearby. I thought: What self-sacrificing love manifested by a 'dumb' animal!
I see some of these human attributes in animals on my morning walks through the neighborhood. Sometimes I bring a bag of cubed whole wheat bread to feed the ducks. In this neighborhood we have ducks galore. At one time I counted 15 ducks congregating in front of someone's yard. There must be over a hundred of them walking around in little groups here and there. I didn't want to feed them in people's yard so I waited to feed the ducks at the pond about a mile away.
When I got to the pond, however, there were no ducks there except for one lone duck about five or six houses away. I was surprised that he even saw me. Those little beady eyes were sure sharp and vigilant. The duck started waddling as fast as he could toward me. He was on the other side of the busy street and would need to cross the street to get to me. School busses, utility vans, and cars were passing by fast. I was afraid he would cross the street at the wrong time and be crushed to death. But he didn't. Like a person, he stood there and waited for all the cars and busses to pass. Then he crossed the street.
Soon, other ducks started to come out from nowhere. They were also on the other side of the street. As always, the street was busy, and they couldn't cross it. I was sure the temptation to cross the street was great because the ducks were hungry after a long night of sleep, and they could smell breakfast clear across the street. Did they know that crossing the busy street would bring on their demise? Yet, waiting forever for traffic to clear would cause them to starve to death. This was a dilemma for the poor ducks. I could almost see little wheels turning in their little duck brains. Then, as if on cue, they all flew above the vehicles and danger and landed safely near me all ready for their morning meal.
One morning I went walking, but I didn't bring any bread with me. The ducks recognized me as the bread lady and came waddling fast to me. I felt badly not having any bread to give them. But I marveled at their intelligence for recognizing me. Maybe you're saying: Ducks would come up to anybody. Not true, because they did not waddle to the lady who was walking ahead of me.
Animals are precious. We can learn some lessons from them. The other day, I saw a mama duck with 14 cute little duckies following her, some were running to catch up with the troop. The moment the mama caught sight of me and my German Shepherd, she stopped dead in her tracks. Immediately, the 14 duckies froze in their tracks. No one darted hither and thither in play or in search of food. Mama duck stood there accessing if we were friends or foe. The duckies waited for a signal from mama to see if all was okay. I marveled. If human kids, created in the image of God, are as obedient as these little duckies, what a wonderful world this would be, wouldn't it?
I remember years ago when my son Michael was little. We were feeding the ducks at a large pond in Bonita, a town near San Diego. There was a myriad of ducks there, and a lot of loud quacking and squawking going on for all the ducks were congregated in one place, not spread out like the ducks are here in our neighborhood.
Mike and I were throwing out pieces of bread as fast as we could. Feeding this loud, raucous hungry multitude was something else. They were all scrambling on top of each other to get to their meals. Except one duck. He was tugging, pulling, and shaking my long dress with its beak, trying to get my attention. It was as if he was saying: Look at me; give me something to eat right here near you. It's a mad house out there.
One day my son and I were walking and took a shortcut toward the Paradise Valley Hospital in National City. There was a grassy and wooded area just before we reached the hospital. We were startled by two birds screeching loudly in distress as they flew from the trees to the ground and back up to the trees. They did this repeatedly. It didn't take long to figure out what was going on. An orange tabby cat, frightened by the screeching birds and our presence, was running away from the scene.
We suspected that a baby bird had fallen off the nest. Sure enough, when we came to the scene, we found a badly injured baby bird. The cat had gotten the poor thing. We felt badly that we didn't come upon the scene sooner. The mommy and daddy birds had been trying desperately in their own bird-way to chase away that tabby cat and keep it from inflicting further injury or possibly killing their precious baby.
I gingerly picked up the baby bird, and looking up at the now quiet parent birds in the trees, told them that we would take their baby home with us and take care of it the best we could. Did they understand? They must have for their loud cry of distress had ceased. Sad to say the baby bird did not make it through the night.
Talking about our feathered friends, at one time we had a beautiful green and yellow parakeet that we allowed to come out of its cage occasionally. He would light on the piano, bookcase, furniture, refrigerator, etc., but never on our shoulders or hands or fingers like we wanted it to do.
On the days following my Father's funeral, I wondered how my Mother would handle not having my Father around after being married to him for 42 years. She had lots of friends who could encourage and support her in these sad and difficult times, but they were all in Guam. I feared that she would give in to feelings of loneliness and discouragement, etc.
I was wrong. Not counting the Lord Jesus Christ, her most intimate friend, her new friend was the parakeet. That parakeet took to my Mother like you wouldn't believe it. He would flit about and light on her shoulder. When she was washing dishes, the parakeet would fly out of the cage and land on top on her head, gently pecking it. He would go up and down her arms, then perch on her shoulder. This parakeet never did this to any of us in the house. And he never did it to Mother before the death of my Father.
Her parakeet friend was so entertaining. It brought out a lot of laughter from her and from us as well. To a great degree the parakeet had brought comfort and joy to Mother and kept her occupied and distracted over the loss of my Father.
There are beautiful natural and man-made ponds in our neighborhood. These are stocked with fishes for I see people fishing every now and then. This reminds me of a fish (the big one that got away) story I would like to share.
We had an aquarium stocked with at least two dozens or so gold fishes and other colorful fishes, with various sizes. One day I cleaned the aquarium not realizing that one of my biggest fishes, about four to five inches long, had fallen out of the aquarium unto the floor behind the entertainment center where the aquarium was sitting on. Later on at 11 o'clock that night, something made me look behind the entertainment center. There I saw the fish on the floor.
Since I had cleaned the aquarium at least five or six hours before, I knew the fish was dead. However, when I picked it up, the tail moved ever so slightly. I threw it back into the water just to see what would happen. Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, the poor thing started to swim, feebly at first, staggering like a drunken man, but fully recovered by the time I went to bed.
I watched it closely several days after that. He didn't manifest any abnormal behavior that I could see. I marveled at the fish's will and determination to survive!
Except for the ducks and horses, we don't have farm animals in our neighborhood, but they tell us that this area used to be a big farm. In fact we have large silos gracing the entrance of our subdivision. I tried to visualize this area when it was teeming with farm animals and the people who took care of them. I've wondered if the people bonded with their charges. These next stories are just about people and animals bonding.
This story is about a crying cow. You say: Cows don't cry. They most certainly do! A cow was a pet to this family's young son. One day the parents decided to sell it to the butcher. With all the commotion getting her ready to transport to the butcher, the cow seemed to sense that something was terribly wrong--that there was a betrayal of trust here. Tears were streaming down her face.
The young son saw this and was devastated. But he couldn't do a thing about it. After all, he was only a son, obedient to his father. But, oh, he couldn't get the image of his crying cow out of his mind. Obviously, it was an emotionally traumatizing experience both for him and his pet. After going through that experience and surviving it, he was determined never in his life would he eat a morsel of beef, or any meat for that matter, ever again!
My neighbor Sue is a vegetarian for the same reason. She had a pet pig when she was a little girl. While she was in school, her parents slaughtered it and put most of its carcass in the freezer. Supper that evening consisted of roast chunk of her beloved pet. Sue told me she cried and cried and vowed never to touch meat ever again as long as she has breath left in her body.
I could empathize with Sue after reading someone's story in the Internet about a pet pig. It never dawn on me that pigs could be household pets. I've always pictured them as unclean and wallowing in mud and filth.
This pig that I read about is one smart pig; it plays hide and seek with its owner and does other things that are almost human-like in nature. The owner's account of the hide-and-seek game they play is hilarious. I'm reminded of Tigger, our Persian cat. Grooming time is a time to hide. He would hide under the furniture not realizing that all its tail is sticking out for the whole world to see. Anyway, this Charlotte-Web-type piglet takes a nap by putting its head on the owner's lap and sometimes sleeps on the owner's tummy.
In the book Animal Wisdom from the Listening to the Animals series, I found out that pigs are affectionate creatures and are easier to train than horses or dogs. They are so intelligent, it's scary as one man puts it. Pigs are ten times cleaner than dogs. Like dogs, they love their tummies scratched. They are quick-witted and alert as foxes and as attentive and vigilant as guard dogs. Despite a reputation for being filthy type of animals, they are unbelievably fastidious about keeping neat and clean as household pets. Pigs are not only so human in intelligence, but in appetite, in personality, in motivation, and in desires. In many ways, the pigs are psychologically human.
I found that account of pigs rather interesting. I doubt seriously that I would ever want to have a pet pig, but hats off to those who do. I highly endorse the bumper sticker that says: Animals are for loving, not eating!
When we were younger, we had a pet baby chick which we named Tick Tick. My sister Esther and I used to polish its 'toe nails' with a red polish. When she was inside the house and we couldn't find her anywhere, all we had to do was call out her name Tick Tick! and she would come running to us.
They say cats sleep at least 16 hours a days, and I believe it. Half the time we couldn't see where our five cats are for they would be sleeping under furniture, under tables, in the bathrooms, in the garage, etc. They are not allowed to go in the bedrooms; however, they sometimes sneak in there to sleep on the bed, under the bed, under the dresser, etc.
If we leave the house to go anywhere for any period of time, we have to do a cat roll-call. We don't want them inadvertently locked in the bedrooms while their cat litter boxes are in the garage (accessed through a cat door).
We find that the easiest way to round up the cats is simply call out: Chow! and they would come running from all directions to the garage for chow time. If it's not feeding time, we would put some cat food out anyway so as not to confuse them.
My dog Sasha cries with me. It doesn't happen often in our household, but one time she bawled like a baby with me. Here's what happened.
The appointment to see a Pain Management Specialist that's covered by our Insurance would be at least three or four months down the road. My husband John was in total pain with sciatica problems and couldn't wait that long. So I scheduled another appointment with a Pain Management Specialist not in our Insurance's network. This meant that I would pay out of my own pocket. I felt I had no choice.
John and I checked the calendar closely so as not to miss the appointment with our Insurance-sponsored Pain Management Specialist. The day before the appointment, the office called to make sure we did not forget. How could we forget it? We would save a bunch of money going this route.
However, as we were talking on the phone, the mere mention that I had been taking John to see a Pain Management Specialist outside of our insurance network, she told me that she had to cancel our appointment with them. I asked Why? She said I couldn't breach the pain management contract of the one we were already going to. In other words, we were stuck with the Pain Management Specialist that we had to pay out of our own pocket.
I told her, she couldn't do this to us. We had waited four long months to get this appointment. I had to do what I did only as a temporary measure to alleviate my husband's pain until we could see our Insurance-sponsored Pain Management Specialist. She said she was sorry, but she couldn't do anything about it because the rules are the rules. I asked her if I could talk with her supervisor. She said she was the supervisor.
After I hung up the phone, I bawled like a baby and so did Sasha.
My dog has so many child-like attributes, it's unreal. She follows me everywhere I go even to the bathroom and waits there. If I soak in the tub for an hour, she would wait for an hour. If I go in the sauna for half an hour, she would wait outside for half an hour. If she is eating or drinking, I'd better stay put otherwise she would quit to follow me. We find that the best time for her to eat and drink is at night when I'm in bed. The last sound we hear is her crunching away.
Looking back in time, my son was the same way. He followed me everywhere I went. One morning while he was still asleep I went outside to water the grass. He woke up frightened that I wasn't there. He was not even three years old. He looked all over the house crying, then he saw me outside. He pounded on the window to get my attention and broke it accidentally. That's the way Sasha is, upset when I'm not there. She'd tear the vinyl windows to get inside the house to be with me.
If I take her to the Vet, she would try to hide under my skirt and wouldn't go with the vet technicians unless I'm with her. If forced to go without me, she would put all four brakes on and wouldn't budge. She would tremble like a leaf. I think I was like that as a child--timid and scared of my shadow. They told me I was a mama's girl and cried a lot.
When Mike or my husband asks: Where's the dog? I simply reply: She's not a dog; she's Baby Girl.
We had another German Shepherd twenty years ago that had so much human-ness about her, too. You can read about JJ here. Here's her picture with Tim, my ex-husband Gary's son. JJ was so much like a person--so much like a woman. She was so beautiful and vain. And, horror or horrors, she sometimes wore funny clothes and unmatched socks!
Animals are beautiful people, aren't they? Click here for a related topic: All Things Bright and Beautiful.
Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers Midi