April 28th, 2007

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Sap Alert: Why I Love Animals

I was just out walking Harpua, my neighbor's dog, and I had to chuckle because I actually got up at 7 on a Saturday for the sake of a dog. It doesn't bother me it all, however, because I will do anything for an animal. They can't do a lot for themselves, can they?

I feel so comfortable with animals, so connected with them, it's like we mesh together somehow. It doesn't matter if it's a dog or a rat or a turtle, I feel some sort of kinship with them. I don't have any worries or tensions when I'm around animals, because the sort of worries you have with people -- them judging you, sexual tension, prejudices -- just aren't there. Sometimes when I'm with Luckie I feel somehow like we've merged into one entity because there's no "surface tension" between us. Same for me and dogs or horses or even pigeons on the street. Even with a wild animal that I can't touch, it's like the animal is like the air I breathe, coming in and out of me, intermingling, and not some separate "object." At the risk of sounding cheesy, I think the way I relate to animals is akin to the way a lot of Native American peoples have in the past and do today. I think less about "owning" and more about being able to share a world together. Many times I've been petting Luckie and the thought occurs to me, "This is a creature that God has made. How wondrous!"

I think a certain amount of this affinity is perfectly natural, because a lonely kid like I was would probably gravitate towards animals, who don't judge like people do, but a large measure of it due to experiences I had with my dog Taffy growing up. Taffy first came to us when I was in second grade and just starting what turned into many long years of hell in school. But when I was home, when I was with Taffy, there were no troubles. She was always there, always caring, always soothing, always ready for a hug or a walk in the woods. To this day I don't think I've been "closer" to anyone or anything than I was with that dog. I think it's fortunate that I met Caleb about the same time Taffy died because otherwise I would have felt so alone, without anyone to really talk to, play with, share secrets with. It's probably no accident at all that as soon as Caleb and I stopped living together, the first thing I did was get a couple of birds and later guinea pigs and a cat. They're a respite from a world of people, who I can never quite trust and always have to worry about to some degree.