Promoting understanding
and compassion for animals



Book excerpt 3

Posted in: From the book2 Comments

I’m sure that this particular personality trait does have an inherited basis. The animal lover is not a new phenomenon. Throughout history there have always been individuals who have felt a strong affinity for animals – St Francis of Assisi, Anatole France, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Twain and more recently Paul McCartney, Doris Day and Brigitte Bardot. And just like today, for every one of these famous devotees there were probably hundreds of thousands of non-famous devotees.

I remember my own mother often comparing me to her brother who, at the height of the 1930’s depression, would still bring home stray cats and dogs despite the fact that the family had nothing to eat. It also seems that her own mother had a soft spot for animals at a time when pet ownership was not the norm that it is today.

It is interesting to note that I never had any physical contact with animals until I was approximately five years of age, due to my severe eczema, yet my animal loving traits were obvious long, long before this. My elder brother and sister had been asking for a cat and a dog ever since I had been born (my brother being bitterly disappointed with the birth of a third sister instead of a brother) but my mother and father had always resisted, worrying about the effect it would have on my skin. Finally after five years of creams and oils and diets and dermatologists my father relented, saying that a dog or a cat couldn’t possibly make my eczema any worse, which it didn’t. However the constant hand washing I had to do as a condition of getting the animals certainly did not help. I would be very interested to see how many other animal lovers were born with severe allergic conditions as it seems a cruel twist of fate in many ways.

Tammy and I

Tammy and I

Finally, I also believe that there is a spiritual element to our obsession. I think we are all born with a particular passion – something that drives us and makes us feel worthwhile… useful …alive. The key is to recognise our passion and then indulge in it in a way that enriches not only our own life but also the lives of others. Through this service we advance spiritually and emotionally, becoming more enlightened, whole beings.

I know that as an animal lover, I was born to love and protect animals. Consequently I surround myself with a wide array of wonderful creatures who teach me things that no human teacher could teach. Along with my children they make me happy and fulfilled and inspired. It is this inspiration which compels me to try to educate people about animals as well as promote understanding and compassion for all species.

So how is an animal lover different to someone who does not have the same connection with animals and what specific personality traits and behaviours does an animal lover display?

I have pondered these questions and spent many a late night scrawling down my thoughts and observations. The main differences that I have discovered between people like myself and people who are not self confessed animal lovers are that we;

  1. possess a heightened sense of compassion for all creatures and a belief that animals feel pain, sadness, grief and fear, just as we do.
  2. have the ability to appreciate the unique characters and personalities of non-human animals and a desire to build meaningful relationships with them.
  3. have a desire to live a real life, not one fabricated by society. One where animals play an integral role.
  4. believe that the human race is not the most important species on this planet
  5. appreciate the ‘magic’ of animals and have experienced a powerful connection with a non human animal or animals.

These points will form the five chapters of this book.

Let me say that the thoughts and opinions in this book are only that – my thoughts and opinions. The book is not based on scientific study, it is a purely personal exploration of who I am, but it is my hope that other animal lovers might also find some understanding of who they are, in what I write.

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  1. Shona said on 09/05/2011 at 12:10 am

    I witnessed a fascinating scenario recently where a 2 year old child was apparently terrified of a pet dog whose home they were visiting. She apparently displays this terror towards all creatures. The parents are at a loss, as they are fond of animals, and have tried numerous times to carefully demonstrate there is nothing to be afraid of. They are unaware of anything that may have occurred to create this fear. When for so many people animal-loving appears to be innate, I wonder what purpose an innate fear of animals serves?

  2. Diana said on 09/05/2011 at 1:43 am

    Interesting question Shona. I have heard a theory from someone who obviously believes in reincarnation that these innate fears are a long term memory from a previous life. So a fear of heights may be because the person fell to their death in a previous life or in this case, the child may have been attacked by an animal. Although I don’t know how it would explain some of the more outlandish fears like a fear of toenail clippings! As a child I was terrified of fire but I have overcome it as an adult. Also as a child I had a horrible fear of tornados but I think I can attribute that to the Wizard of Oz. It is sad for the child and I really hope that she doesn’t have any bad experience that will compound that fear. If anyone else has any thoughts on this please share them.

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