Monday, October 24, 2011

PETS AREN'T PEOPLE


Those adopt-a-pet ads — sad-eyed pooches, needy cats ... on which, on what do I focus?

We had a dog named "Teechie," a cat named "Helpy" and a large, white pigeon named " Little Soup." They helped us teach our son JD the facts of life.

And of course, pets taught us other facts-of-life things.

The cat combed, and climbed and tore parts of our burlap walls. We found a new owner for Helpy. When our male pigeon laid an egg, we were stunned and thrilled. We let Little Soup fly around the house once a day, even though pigeon poop was a bit of problem. A friend, emigrating to Puerto Rico, was delighted to adopt Little Soup. Before we moved to Malibu, a New York neighbor who had "Daisy," a dachshund, was thrilled when Teechie became Daisy's live-in playmate.

Those pets in the ads touch me, but I find myself remembering our pets, and also -- golly -- I can't help thinking of the sad-eyed starving children in the pictures from all over the world.

And also thinking about what I've read about endangered species -- the 19, 265 living things -- 2,364 mammals and birds that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) keeps track of in order to help governments identify species in need of protection.

Stop-stop – I tell myself.

My mind jumps to Al Gore -- climate, environment things -- stop-stop – too many things in every direction -- my energies have to focus on my own life and people whom my hands, my mind, can help.

It's a choo-choo train of thought -- polar bears, whales, and dolphins, then earthquake, tornado, hurricane victims, and then those damn ads -- the pets seem to be speaking to me.

Stop-stop – but I can't stop -- practically everyone I know has a pet or two or three pets, and every time I'm on the street I see dogs as the children of the people who have them on their leashes -- every time I visit a friend I see them cuddling. petting, taking care of their beloved pet children.

Gee, pet children? And there are so many, many real children that need help. My God, they're the life that goes on after we're gone! We must help the children, hands on, money, and thoughts -- even if we're just helping other helpers help a child.

No, I can't adopt a pet. And I can't take on a child. Our lives, mine and my husband's, are already over filled with tender responsibilities. I can't close my eyes and not see the sad-eyed pet creatures that need a parent, but I know you understand, because you, most of you, have the love of pets, and pets that you love in your family.

But golly, if I could, a child would be number one on my list.
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