Monday, October 24, 2011


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.


Carola said...

I don't have a pet because I'm allergic and I travel a lot. Also I had to give away a cat once and she came to a bad end; after that I swore I would never make that kind of commitment to an animal again, unless I was totally sure I could follow through.

Anonymous said...

I love my beautiful children but also love my pets. I have a little dog named Roxy and a cat named Foxy. They love each other, playing and chasing each other around the house. My kids have grown and gone, so my pets give me love and I give them TLC in return. I am lost without my animals to talk to and cuddle each day. The hardest part is when they die in your arms from old age or sickness....I always cry.
kam Kathleen Ann McGee

Linda Phillips said...

It all depends on one's priorities and one's needs Em. I would love to help the poor starving children that I know are dying in places like Darfur. It breaks my heart too. But I have a limited budget and I have to come first. The ads that are on late at night to me are a tear jerking fraud. What used to be called The Christian Children's Fund, has changed it's name to something with a wider appeal. But its's the same guy doing the pitch and I don't trust his words for a second. In fact he infuriates me. He is using those pictures of those same poor starving children to get money for an organization that is so corrupt from what I have read.

If I could afford it, I would do a lot of research and see how best I could really help and send money to a legitimate organization, where I know that particular government is not ciphering off most of it.

Those poor heartbreaking animals...its the same thing. The Humane Society is a very good organization, if I could afford to help them, but the ASPCA no matter what they may claim only holds an animal for 24 hours and then euthanize it.

I need my pets and yes they really are my children. No I am not silly. I don't dress then up and throw them birthday parties, but they are my constant, loving companions. I would be lost without an animal in my life.

Kaye Francis said...

Oh dear EM, I could talk for hours. I shall try to be brief. You have received some wonderful frank comments which reveals to me people trust you with their honest opinions & observations, good for you!

My pets are my companions, my confidantes. I recently had to put one down (around age 13, no longer able to walk, out of options for Wisconsin winters). It tore my heart out.

My family & I are under the same roof, we love each other, but frankly those times when you are very annoyed at family members, I can talk to my dogs about it & run it by them. I don't tear the fabric of the positive relationships I'm trying to weave with my family & the dogs don't 'rat' me out.

Personally I have subscribed to many Cesar Millan teachings about how dogs' minds work, and being the Pack leader & what's in their best interest & have humanized them less, although I would put a dress on my wee old gramma dog once in a while just cuz it was cute. Less humanizing them so they may have the freedom to be more of a dog was actually freeing for me to & my dogs were/are just as valuable & integral part of the family as before.
* * *
I agree about the need to save a child, but it is so who to trust? who to trust? as I think I saw one lady above point out. During Audrey Hepburn's time as the face of UNICEF absolutely you knew whe went out into many 3rd world countries & saw to it that medicines, food etc. arrived at the destination & was distributed. I think UNICEF takes in close to 2 and 3/4 Billion dollars per annum. I don't know how much of that money it outlays each year & if there is an oversight committee that sees if supplies get where they are supposed to or are hijacked by greedy governments & privateered on the black markets.

For each disaster the Red Cross receives money, it holds back 50% of that for future disaster relief which goes into a general fund. I understand the need to do that, but at the same time, they fail to open their books or give statement to the salaries/benefits/overhead/equipment etc. etc. etc. they are also distributing & paying out of that general fund. I find that very frustrating. When I give, I want to know the people who needed it received all they could receive. I want to feel trust.

The commenter who spoke of only being able to do what each person or family can do spoke so truly. We are average, ordinary, Midwest family & yes fairly low income, but getting by. (We work hard at that!) In the past couple weeks dinner time has picked up a couple extra regular teen boys who join Grand and us at the dinner table. I don't ask & I don't care they might be double dippin' ~ eating at home & eating here. They are hungry & they eat everything they take. It's cut into lunch leftovers for me & the daughter, so have to purchase a little more lunch things for us each week. This is a small thing we can do right here in our kitchen, in our home, on our street.

I loved all your "stop, stop" paragraphs, so true EM ~ and uh, mmm EM ~ I wasn't 'brief' but I was here for you. :) I'm @grammakaye on twitter.