When I was 2, I started begging for a sibling. Instead of that, I got someone even better—Tippy. She was my birthday present when I turned 3. Tippy was every bit my sister. I took her everywhere and we did everything together. When she had puppies, I was her 6-year-old midwife. Luckily there were several willing homes for most of the puppies and thankfully, my mom got Tippy spayed after that. But the very best part was that we got to keep one of her puppies. I was thrilled!
Tippy was kind enough to share him with me—he was our baby. I named him Pepper. Pepper was a cockapoo and most people thought he didn’t realize he was a dog. He grew faster than I did, since that’s what dogs do, and I taught him how to dance. He would stand on his hind legs and put his paws on my shoulders as we rocked side to side. Pepper gave the best hugs. I didn’t know that it wasn’t typical for dogs arms, er uh, front legs, to open up to give a hug like human’s arms do. Pepper’s did. We shared so many special moments together playing, watching each other, singing together, and snuggling. I’m sure I went to school every day smelling like a dog since I went against my mother’s advice to not let the dogs sleep under the covers with me.
When I was in middle school, my friend Kathy spent the night. When her mom, Betty, came to pick her up, she and my mom started chatting while sitting on the couch. Pepper crawled up into Betty’s lap and snuggled up as he got into “baby position” where he was belly up and back of the head tucked into the crook of her arm. Turning to my mom, Betty laughed and said, “This dog thinks he’s a baby! If I had a bottle, I’m sure he would take it!”
Tippy and Pepper planted seeds in my heart that have grown into a forest of love for animals.
Last Wednesday evening, our family went to a Town Hall meeting for our local animal shelter, Sammie’s Friends. They were in danger of losing their contract with the county until our local community came out in droves to support this organization. Nearly 1,000 crowded into the large event center and spilled out the doors. That is a huge number considering that our population is just 16,000 people.
While I was proud of our little town for showing up for cats and dogs I felt sad that we don’t protect farmed animals with such devotion. We protect what and who we know and love. Even though using animals for food is normalized in our culture doesn’t mean it makes sense. Pigs are actually smarter than dogs, chickens love to cuddle and can solve complex puzzles, and cows have been known to figure out how to open gates.
What if we chose to see the inherent value in all Beings? How much more peaceful, healthy, and environmentally sound could our world be? We can live and even thrive without hurting someone else. Find out how and know that I got you on this.
P.S. You’ll find me at these upcoming events both online and in-person, starting this Thursday— I would love to meet you!
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