I’m preparing for a long overdue vacation. In the days leading up to leaving, my thoughts are less on the actual journey and more on how my animals will fare while I’m away. I am the caretaker of three cats and a dog who rely on me daily for their safety and wellbeing. To this end, I am committed. It is a responsibility to which I’m devoted. And this is why my mind is on them until I get things arranged for their care while I’m away.
As I work out these details, I received in the mail the newsletter from the Animal Friends Rescue Project. This led me to think about the thousands upon thousands of neglected companion animals, particularly dogs and cats, who don’t get the care and attention my four four-leggeds do.
I am deeply saddened when I hear of animal neglect and abandonment. Once we domesticate an animal, removing it from its natural habitat, it becomes dependent on us. It is our obligation to be stewards of this earth as well as its inhabitants. It is our collective sacred responsibility, but we have shunned it, instead allowing self-serving interests to run amok.
Those of us that participate in the continual damage of our planet and its occupants live detached from one of life’s most profound experiences: the ability to touch one’s own well of compassion, grace, and humanity. This inability, or we could say unwillingness, to feel into our own heart center becomes the ignorance and apathy that leads to the neglect of our environment, fellow humans, and animals.
No matter what your own participation has been in the past around this sacred responsibility, both you and I can improve our roles. There are a few simple ways to help stem the abuse and suffering of companion animals. I offer two suggestions here which you have undoubtedly heard before, yet might or might not have taken seriously.
If you are thinking of getting a companion animal, a dog or a cat, get one from a shelter or from an “oops” litter. “Oops” litters are comprised of unwanted and unexpected animals who can end up in shelters and often do. I adopted two of my own cats as adults. Mimi was homeless and Draven was soon-to-be abandoned by neighbors. Calypso came to me at six weeks old from a family so desperate to get rid of the kittens they had given his mother away before I got there to pick him up. We sometimes joke that if word gets out there will be busloads of homeless felines with little knapsacks unloading in front of the house.
Rami, my Labrador/German Shepherd, was one of eleven solid black puppies. From another “oops” litter, Rami’s mother and father were neighbors. His intact father had a penchant for roaming. Neither of their guardians had gotten around to “fixing” them yet. From just this one litter, there were eleven new unexpected and unwanted puppies needing to find homes.
This leads me to the second suggestion: take the time to neuter your companion animals. I think this might involve, for some, dealing with the desire to have macho intact dogs. Also, we must elevate our consciousness so that the wellbeing of our dependents is ahead of our hankering for a few more dollars (which can come through breeding).
We are the stewards of our neighborhoods and its residents, both human and animal, whether we choose to participate or not. This is our sacred responsibility. Our wisdom is relied upon. From my perspective, right now is a good time to foster and exercise it.