Something very exciting happened to me this morning and after thanking my lucky stars time and time again, two instincts started bubbling. The first, to celebrate with a yummy vegan dinner out tonight. The second, to take Nala for a long walk in the park and sit in the sun with her. As I felt the sun on my face, I kept thinking of the bonds we form with animals which are so unique and special, even in spite of us being so different from one another. When we’re lucky, Nala and I get to see a beautiful white horse in the meadow who really enjoys hanging out with us. They both respect their limits and don’t trample on each other’s ground, but they love walking around together and Nala gets super excited when she sees him in the distance. I love to see how animals have no problem accepting others in spite of their differences. If you ‘google unlikely animal friendships’ you’ll be given the greatest reasons to smile for the rest of the week. When a day like today comes, in which feelings of gratitude are flooding my life, I love keeping it simple and enjoying the sun rays on my face, and simply watching Nala smelling the grass and taking in the autumn wind. As I was coming back from the park with her today, it got me thinking about the lovely traits animals bless us with, and I thought today we would talk about the simple basic things that unite us all.
I remember that when I first went vegan I felt a connection with animals that I had never felt before (and I considered myself a hard core animal lover!). I don’t think it was a hippy dippy thing related to the food or the effects of my yoga and being calmer. Today I realized it was simply the fact that after everything I had read and watched about animals and veganism, I saw that in spite of the numerous differences between us, we are all deserving. I was one of those people who thought that farmed animals were different from my pets and didn’t even want to look into how they were treated (and I assumed they were treated with care), let alone think that there was any other option other than the eventual slaughter of these animals. I was able to state clear differences between our cuddly animal companions and “the other” animals.
Boy was I in for a ride when I started reading about them. Not only about the horrid ways in which they’re treated, but about the wonderful and special qualities they all have, some of which are very similar to what we see in our dogs, cats and in ourselves, and some of which are different in an even more remarkable way.
As I’ve told you in my personal journey to veganism, it was looking into the fear in the eyes of a cow, the exact same look Nala gives me when she’s scared, and finally seeing that there was no difference whatsoever between them. Today however, we’re going to take a look at these animals in a much more positive light, when they’re at their best and free, or under the protection of caring human animals. We are celebrating after all right?
A few months ago I was reading stories about farmed animals who have been rescued and sent to sanctuaries, and the incredible traits these animals possess. Since we keep insisting on comparing these to human traits or to those we see in our companion animals, that’s exactly what I’m going to give you! I’m going to burst your bubble, are you ready?
As it turns out, workers in farm sanctuaries have documented almost every single species of farm animals, especially baby calves trying to cuddle up in the couch next to their caregivers to watch tv (sound familiar? I don’t know about you but my dog has a masters degree in this!). They will actually spend quite a long time trying to get comfy next to you. Pigs are notorious tennis ball fetchers and LOVE this game. They are also absolute sweethearts, incredibly intelligent, and can be roudy and opinionated as well. Chickens have huge maternal instincts, and donkeys seem to be fabulous companions and love being petted and hugged. Turkeys have a soft ‘furry’ spot they love to be tickled in, they enjoy being held and will even press their faces against yours. Fish, the one species we just don’t seem to be able to connect with, have unbelievable social structures and can work together in incredible ways. The stories are endless.
There are two other farm animals that I can personally tell you about because they accompanied me through my childhood. It’s the story of Adam and Eve, our two ducks and the five little ducklings they had while they were in our care, and also, a very opinionated sheep called Merlin – who we then renamed Clyde when we introduced him to his new female companion Bonnie, and became partners in many a crime (they were two little mischievous characters those two!). Merlin would walk past my window in the morning and “Bah” until I got up to feed him and keep him company. He was an early riser and wouldn’t stand still until everyone in the house was up and walking around the backyard with him. He loved playing tricks on my dog when she wasn’t looking and simply loved to walk around the garden with some company. The husband and wife duck team would play tag with my dog (my mother even wrote an essay about this little game, as it was truly amazing), and Adam would wait every evening on the roof for his partner Eve, who flew around every day at sunset like clockwork.The sunsets really were a thing of beauty. Then we watched that mamma duck while she laid her eggs, not in the house we had built for her but in our dog’s little house, which ironically had never been used by our dog because she preferred human beds from day one. We watched Eve tend to her eggs, and one day woke up to the first one hatching as we all sat side by side on the grass next to the ducks, Merlin and our dog watching in awe. Then we saw those ducks raise their ducklings and go through everything from nurturing them, to feeding them to getting angry when they misbehaved (mamma duck got very angry when one of the little ones often stayed behind (he was always distracted and wanted to follow us inside the house). They all had their temperaments, their ways of communicating, their ways of showing love and anger, and of course they could all feel fear and pain. When I think about it, I get a little bit angry at myself for not making the connection sooner, but I guess going through this journey is the only way to find your way.
Any animal lover will tell you that the relationship we form with our dear companion animals can be as strong as what develops between humans. Somehow, without uttering a word, we form these incredible bonds with animals. We seem to know what they need and how to make them giddy, they seem to know even more about making profound emotional contact with us. They can express their physiological needs better than infants, they know exactly when we need them most and they seem to look up to us as their protectors and companions. Throughout my life I’ve had the absolute pleasure of sharing my life with many, but it was only when I saw how similar we all were, that I felt a deep connection and understanding of what it should mean to share this world with them. We are all the same, and at the same time different, we all deserve to live, thrive, get excited, love, have a family, feel safe and enjoy our time on this earth.
When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.
– Ingrid Newkirk
From what I’ve seen there is nothing as true as this. And since today is about the beauty and simplicity of feeling grateful for all the great things that life sends our way, I want to share with you the following videos that will just put a smile on your face for the rest of the day! The last one, featuring Bella and Bubbles, two unlikely animal friends, will send a bit of the joy I felt today your way.
and finally, the one you simply cannot miss… Bubbles and Bella, two unlikely animal friends
May we all share life and love with other creatures as these two animal friends do and may we see the beauty in the simplest things, like a dive into the water from a big gray trampoline.
Before you leave, I want to share with you this beautiful quote by Colleen Patrick Goudreau. It’s what she calls her “Prayer for Humans on Behalf of Animals” and I think it’s just so beautiful. It instantly takes me to a space of gratitude and humility and makes me feel so grateful. Her inspiration for this beautiful piece of writing was her personal interaction with these animals in farm sanctuaries across the US.
My hope is that we can navigate through this world with the grace and integrity of those who need our protection. May we have the sense of humor and liveliness of the goats; may we have the maternal instincts and protective nature of the hens and the sassiness of the roosters. May we have the gentleness and strength of the cattle, and the wisdom, humility, and serenity of the donkeys. May we appreciate the need for community as do the sheep and choose our companions as carefully as do the rabbits. May we have the faithfulness and commitment to family of the geese, the adaptability and affability of the ducks. May we have the intelligence, loyalty, and affection of the pigs and the inquisitiveness, sensitivity, and playfulness of the turkeys.
My hope is that we learn from the animals what we need to become better people.
– Colleen Patrick Goudreau
Thanks for stopping by and celebrating with me today! If you ever need a little animal fix to brighten up your day, our page ‘I feel like smiling’ is dedicated to animals and the wonderful work done in farm sanctuaries around the world.
I’ll see you again this week with some more veggie cooking basics and some spicy treats!
The photo at the top of his post was taken by Marji Beach, a worker at Animal Place Farm Sanctuary, and is shared through Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial – No Derivatives 2.0 Generic.
The photo of the big cow smooch was taken by David Wild from Public Energy for his adorable cow close up. and is shared through Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial 2.0 Generic.