When I was a kid, my mom, brother, sister, and I were allergic to dander, so our family never had a cat or dog. We had birds and hamsters, as my own children did. Small pets are great for teaching children responsibility, and, sure, we loved when the parakeet landed on our finger or the hamster climbed up our arm or hid in our pocket. But our birds and hamsters live only a few short years. They never slept in our bed and communication with small pets was distant, maybe because you don’t really look birds or hamsters in the eye, making them, for me, beloved friends, but hardly a substitute for a dog or a cat.
Because of my limited experience with pets, it was not until I was an adult that I truly understood the important role animals play in our lives. Maybe that’s the reason the old yellow Lab, Dog, in my novel, In Leah’s Wake, is such a key part of the story!
Pets provide companionship, of course; while this is tremendously important for all of us-particularly those who are alone or shut in-animals are far more than just our best friends. Animals entertain us they provide food to nourish and sustain us, and give us materials for clothing and goods. They show us, through their behavior and our scientific research, what it means to be alive, part of a community or in a relationship (think of the experiment with the baby monkeys and wire ‘moms’), and with their own lives they give us the gift of health. Animals nurture us and restore our health and they teach us-children and adults-compassion. And in their gorgeous, ferocious, stunning being, give us beauty and joy.
Today, we celebrate animals!
The World Animal Day Hop is being sponsored by Terri Giuliano Long and David M. Brown. Terri is the author of best-selling novel In Leah’s Wake, while David is the author of The Elencheran Chronicles.