For all of us who love animals, we like to think that we do our best for them. But have we become so accustomed to seeing animals around us that we have stopped looking at each one and what we can do for them as individuals?
PETA founder Ingrid Newkirk wrote recently of a horse she had seen several times before, yet never really paid attention to. He looked well-fed when she passed him on her walks, so she was not worried about him. But on a recent walk, she realized as she passed that food was not the only necessity that this horse could be missing. He lived a life of boredom, walking back and forth in his small, worn pasture and hoping for any scrap of attention from the occasional passerby.
Realizing now how barren his life was, Ingrid took a little time to gather together what she could find—some hazelnuts, a little dandelion, and a discarded apple—and offered them to him. He devoured it all! What a moment of joy this must have been in a day that would otherwise be the same as the one before and the one after.
Ingrid understood that she had looked at but never before truly seen this horse. Even for devoted animal activists, have we come to treat animals like furniture that we don’t often notice? Do we take the time to think about what we could do—no matter how small—to make a difference in the life of every animal we meet?
I can think of times with my own canine companions when I have rushed them around the block, doing my duty by walking them but hurrying because I was running late. Yet this walk is the most exciting event of the day for my devoted friends. My duty goes far beyond a token walk. I should allow them to explore, sniff, stop, and mark every few seconds if they choose to!
Of course, we all have things that we must do in life. We must go to work, do the cleaning, or take the kids to school. But can you imagine how miserable we would feel if we had nothing at all to do in life?
All animals have the ability to suffer in the same way and to the same degree that humans do. They feel pain, pleasure, fear, frustration, loneliness, and love. So the next time you see an animal, remember that the smallest gift, even a moment of reduced boredom for them, can give them something to think about for a long time.
Posted by Jason Baker