I have a sister who is immersed in the world of animal rescue, and she is always beseeching me to adopt this or that poor, deserving creature. While I heartily applaud her efforts to connect loving humans with loving pets, I always decline. Why?
Dogs, cats, horses, tortoises–really, all animals– keep us connected with our own most basic selves. We are animals, after all! I personally no longer want to own one; that is, to have one live in my home, connected to me in a special, one-on-one, tender way.
1) I have owned many pets in the past, and have had to endure watching each of them finish out their shorter lifespan (shorter than mine, that is!). I have nursed several through an extended illness that was not to end in healing. Frankly, it is almost as hard as having a friend or family member die. I don’t enjoy this!
2) I am a teeny bit allergic–especially to cats. If I pet them, it is better for me to wash my hands immediately, before I touch my eyes!
3) I don’t want to be tied down by their care. I want to be free to pick up and travel to connect with my favorite human animals…
Does this mean that I don’t absolutely ADORE animals? Well, maybe, but I actually really do like and enjoy them and cherish them–even tenderly!
I am “in relationship” with the squirrels, mountain bluebirds, cardinals, mockingbirds, American goldfinches, ravens, catbirds, tufted titmouses, pileated woodpeckers, blue jays, wrens, sparrows, hummingbirds, etc., who live in, or frequently visit, my yard. I leave an ample place where brambles can grow, and they seem to appreciate this. The squirrels allow me to putter around them casually, and many of the birds have tried to build nests on my porch. I discourage this, but on occasion have relented. I drew the line at the squirrels who wished to burrow in under my roof. Sorry, guys, I know it is cold out there, so I will leave you some fluff for your nests, but get real: you can’t come inside!
I tolerate the cats, skunks, foxes, deer, dogs, who come by and forage, mostly nocturnally.
I used to have a pet tortoise who would fall asleep on my feet, when I took him out to sun his back and scramble around on my porch while I wrote or drew. That was amazing!
I write children’s stories about animals–in particular, an ongoing chapter book about a squirrel named Jameson. More on this, later :)
I sketch (and/or paint) custom pet portraits for other people, and get vicarious joy from rendering their beautiful faces and forms for their devoted owners. (https://www.etsy.com/shop/stjudesquareartworks?ref=hdr_shop_menu)
I may (or may not?) own pets in the future, but I truly do love being connected to them–and to their human counterparts!