You're fun to talk to, Deb. I feel like I know you
We think alike on so many things, I know we'd work great together, and I love your ideas on many topics unrelated to this, our favorite subject.
I haven't seen Dog Whisperer, but haven't you found there is always some frequency, or type of communication, that works best for each species? I have rarely been around horses, and one day I just got up real close to one -- to her head and face, and I started baby talking to her in this little tiny voice. She LOVED it, and started following my face and voice with her movements and even leaning closer to me.
I just learned about meows. I don't know why it never sunk in before that my two ferals DON'T meow. It's because vocalization is a HUMAN form of communication, and domesticated cats quickly pick up the fact that humans respond to sounds. They meow for US. In the wild, it's done far more rarely. I was so pleased when Arizona(feral) meowed for wet food the other day, because now I know she's talking to ME.
I heard part of the NPR interview. Not enough to comment, unfortunately.
but I lied when I was asked: ... did you do that?
Hey, why do you suppose people DO leave their cats intact? And why are they so MAD when you get them fixed? Am I right about it? That they view the cats as toys and hope they just wander off and die before they get tired of 'em? If I didn't have the money to do it, I'd be GRATEFUL if someone kidnapped my cat and took care of it for me.
This family .... it was totally bizarre to me. When the young man got the kitten, he carefully took it to every neighbor to show us and say, "this is my new kitten." He wanted us to help him watch out for him. I told him then that if he was going to let the little bugger roam, he should get him fixed pretty soon. He seemed to understand and agree. I was really nice about it, not lecturing at all. Then after MONTHS had gone by, and after I'd already repeatedly talked to him about it, and after I started seeing the cat doing the typical scary stuff, I took matters into my own hands. But when they moved, they NO LONGER WANTED this supposedly BELOVED PET and GAVE him to my other neighbor!! Lucky for the cat, because he got a truly caring, responsible owner. I would have dated that guy in a heartbeat.
I just don't understand how you can act like you "love" and care about an animal one minute, and then just walk off and leave him with someone else. He was a cool kitty -- good manners, friendly, relaxed, sweet. He didn't even spray in my house BEFORE he got fixed, and you'd think that with all those other cat smells, he'd have freaked out.
I HATE euthanizing them, but I hate watching them hurt even more. And sometimes it seems like the animal is ready and understands, too.
Nature sucks, you are right. It was looking into a kitten's face that got me to believe in God again, but it is watching how they suffer that makes me doubt. How can there be a God if He/She makes innocent creatures hurt like that?
Shortly before I left CA, we had a situation with feral Siamese cat. She was supposed to have been fixed, but somehow the rescuer in charge never got around to it, and she got pregnant. A Hispanic woman was feeding her, but she wasn't allowed to let her inside the house (her husband) and she really didn't know what to feed her. The cat got weird things like breakfast cereal. The lady I worked with was worried that the mom cat was getting lousy nutrition and that her kittens would be born with medical problems and without a chance to get socialized to people and adopted into normal homes. So, for the purpose of protecting the mom and her kittens, and also to get her spayed after the birth, I got the pregnant mom.
Stupid me. I really had NO clue what was the best way to treat that mother cat, and I checked
on her several times a day. What an ass I was. I wanted to make sure she was eating and all that. I scared that little girl half out of her wits, and sure enough, she gave birth prematurely, rejected her kittens, and in spite of our rushing them to a vet tech for bottle feeding, they all died within 24 hours after that.
My point in this story is that we TRY to help the wild creatures, but sometimes, in spite of all our best intentions, we make matters worse. I was thinking of that with your little fox squirrel. It must have been very hard for him to focus on getting well with all those BIG MONSTERS (people) hanging around. But you've just got to do it, anyways, and you're right, whatever you did for that fox squirrel was 1000 times better than what he would have gotten out in the woods.
We think they understand our good intentions, but do they?
On the bright side, I believe that some of our companion animals TRULY understand when we are trying to help them, even if it's scary or it hurts them. Sivayan HATES being given medication, or groomed, and yet after I do it, he hangs around and cuddles with me. That's weird because he rarely does that at other times.
On the other hand, I've noticed that some of my cats have LONG memories. I was wondering why Calypso never goes in to get wet food until after I've left the scene -- no matter how many of her friends are in there gulping it down. Oh yeah. She remembers that was the trick I used to get her to adoption events when she was a kitten. She's still afraid that the wet food is a trap, and once she's eating I'll grab her and put her in a carrier. Nefer, my REALLY savage feral, doesn't go near the food at all. She was a colony kitten, lured into a Hav-A-Hart trap in the usual way. She's never forgotten, after all this time. And she'll let me get pretty close to her as I long as I do not touch her.
Who knows what they're all thinking?
Pet vets are often uncomfortable with the idea of grief -- at least the ones I've seen. They seem most comfortable when you show no emotion, or very little, at your pet's passing, and if you can't they seem to prefer that you let them take your dog or cat to a back room. It's not that they are worried that your grief will disturb the ANIMAL. I make it a point to communicate calm and reassurance to the animal until they breathe their last. Then I cry. They worry that your grief will disturb THEM. I can hardly blame them. It's the most difficult part of their jobs. Human doctors don't have to be the angel of death, and the instrument separating you from your loved ones. Even so, I just CAN'T leave the animal alone for their last moment on earth. I may be the only familiar, non-terrifying person in the room. I agree with Temple's idea that FEAR is worse for the animal than death. Perhaps she's right.
Do animals have a soul. Did this little guy … I say yes. And I also say, his presence was not diminished because he died. Instead, it was expanded, because it was set free.
Dang! You keep bringing up these interesting points. "His presence was not diminished because he died. Instead, it was expanded, because it was set free."
I believe that's far more literally true and accurate than you even realize.
And here's another story to help illustrate it:
We had a mall pet store in our town. One day I walked in and found two society finches, newly arrived, brutally feather-picked, shivering pitifully on the bottom of a cage in a drafty corner, on the verge of death. In total rage, I bought the two birds and wrote the nastiest letter of my life to pet shop owner.
I set up a hospital cage on my dining room table with heat lamps, moist towels, soft corn and vegetable bits to eat, and water with antibiotic and vitamin drops. One of the birds started looking better after the first two days. The other struggled, but I could tell he might not make it.
New Year's Eve, I came home from a party and checked on him. He was still alive and just barely hanging on the perch, labored breathing. I did what I could and went to bed.
That night I dreamt about him. He was happy and healthy and all his feathers were grown back. He had bright eyes and was moving around the cage like a normal bird, chirping pleasantly. Then, somehow, he flew between the bars of the cage and out into the open sky. It was such a typical dream, and so cliche that I've rarely mentioned it to anyone, but when I got up, I KNEW that he'd passed on, and the dream was his way of saying goodbye and thank you. I went straight to the cage, and he was there, on the bottom. Goodbye.
The other bird lived for a few years, with my other finches, and seemed pretty content.
Thanks for letting me bore you with all my stories. I LOVE talking about animals with anyone -- especially you.