We are born into this world with a love for animals. As babies, we share the same innocence and many similar vulnerabilities. As we grow, we often have animal playmates that grow alongside us. I’ve met many service dogs who regularly visit nursing home residents. I’ve known cats living in a hospice facility that won’t leave the room of a patient who is very sick or dying. I have witnessed horses who adore their owners and caregivers. And, as a small child, I felt a loving kinship with our cows, pigs, and chickens, and sensed that love returned. Animals seem to embody a spirit of loving oneness with us.
In a study done in 2012, researchers at the University of London found that dogs are more likely to approach an individual who is weeping than one who is simply talking. The submissiveness they display in these situations indicates that they have a primitive understanding of human distress, according to the study. I have experienced this sort of behavior first-hand, but from a cat, surprisingly! Have you witnessed this type of behavior from an animal?
Compassion for animals is intimately associated with goodness of character, and it may be confidently asserted that he who is cruel to animals cannot be a good man. ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
As mentioned in my first post on animals, 69 scientific studies on human-animal interaction reviewed by The National Center for Biotechnology Information show that interacting with animals can be quite therapeutic. Some of the benefits shown in these studies include improved mood & behavior; reduced stress, fear & anxiety; improved heart health & immune function; and reduced aggression. Over the past month, I have set up both a hummingbird feeder and a regular seeded feeder in our front yard. These precious (but sometimes possessive!) little birds have touched my heart in a way that brings back the sweetness of childhood. Watching them feed, I’m overcome with tenderness and exhilaration.
Is this a common effect of the pandemic, do you think? Have you made a deeper commitment to animals, or Nature in general, since the onset of the virus? Or do you know anyone who has?
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
What about eating animals: do you find that you’re eating fewer meats these days? I have seen many news articles over the past several months about how the popularity of fake meat items has boomed. According to the meat paradox, as discussed in an article from Current Directions in Psychological Science entitled The Psychology of Eating Animals, most people care about animals and do not want to see them harmed but engage in a diet that requires them to be killed and, usually, to suffer. What thoughts or feelings surface when you read that statement?
Before covid-19, I can’t remember ever hearing the word zoonotic. Now I’m seeing it used repeatedly. The term refers to diseases, like covid-19, that are spread from animals. According to Wikipedia, there is increasing evidence . . . that measles, smallpox, influenza, HIV, and diphtheria came to humans this way. Tuberculosis and even strains of the common cold, the article goes on to say, originated in animals. I’ve read information from several sources suggesting that the sad state of factory farming practices in this country could lead to more frequent outbreaks of zoonotic diseases. Can policy makers do nothing to protect us from these looming threats? In light of the many sacrifices we’ve made due to the pandemic (and who knows how much longer it will continue), shouldn’t this be a priority?
I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being. ~ Abraham Lincoln
We come into this world treasuring animals, but learning to disregard that love, at least for farm animals, often seems part and parcel to growing up. With all the benefits animals confer on us when they are loved and treated well, perhaps an examination of our current belief system is in order. Learning to embody the same sense of loving oneness they often display may very well contribute to not only our happiness but also our health and longevity.
Blessings for Animal Love,