What I Feel About Animals, I Hold In My Heart
Someone wiser than me once said ‘One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can’t utter.”
As I sit down to write this for St Valentine’s Day, I am not sure that I will ever find the right words to explain how I feel towards those other species, that we commonly call ‘animals’.
Those wonderous creatures who deserve to have a life worth living, who deserve our respect and have an equal right to live on this planet but whom we all too often, abuse for our own pleasure, material gain or just ‘because we can’.
Nothing makes me despair like some of my fellow species who persist in harming and abusing animals. They are the weakest in society but they are the very creatures who make my heart sing. Who give joy, simply by being themselves.
Yet, these are the creatures, be they domestic, wild or farmed, that we bend to our will. That we oversee and control. That we decide who will live or die.
We humans are a complicated bunch. Many of us have concern for animals and care about their well-being, but how many people do you know who give little regard to the animals farmed for food?
It always amazes me that some ‘animal lovers’ may never question the way animals might be raised and treated for meat.
A fact more commonly known as ‘the meat paradox’.
As friend, Baroness Rosie Boycott once said to me, ‘If we tried to intensively farm Labradors like we do pigs, who are equally intelligent, there would be an uproar’.
Equally many humans, give little thought to how wild animals might feel to be locked in zoos. Or how animals might be beaten and tortured into submission, just so they can carry humans, or dance, or fight, simply for our superficial pleasure and entertainment.
However, we also know that many companion animal owners, actually prefer them to people. According to research (Pets over People) one reason some choose companion animals over people is that they provide “unconditional positive regard” — something an animal lover won’t always get from human interaction. They also won’t attach social stigma to a person with mental illness. And the routines that come with a dog or cat — feeding and walking them, for example — distract and disrupt negative feelings and increase social interaction. Those benefits reduce stress and loneliness. What’s also valuable, is a sense of ‘No matter what, my companion animal loves me.’
What is clear, is that in treasuring someone, an animal or another human being, there is a sense of being held dear, or being protected, and valued beyond measure. Many of us will have been fortunate enough to have experienced the gift of being treasured as a person. That sense of unconditional love that makes us feel deeply valued and cherished. It is a feeling that is recognised the world over and especially on St. Valentine’s Day.
I am not sure that I will ever be able to put into words, my gratitude for the unconditional love given to me by our rescue dog, Duke. Nor the endless pleasure I gain from being with and watching all animals simply enjoying life.
What is true, is that words don’t matter. We all know in our hearts what fills us with joy. And for me, it is the deep love and connection I have with animals. It is what drives me in my work and in my life. Thankfully, I’m far from alone in that. And long may it be so.