Q: What’s the greatest technological invention in your lifetime?
Dog people aren’t blameless, either. I recently attended a small writer’s conference, where I visited with a few acquaintances, met some interesting new folks, and greeted Rosie and Luke as if we were old friends. Yep. They are both lap dogs who go everywhere with their owners.
This morning, I was reminded of why this is not all as silly as it sounds. The past week, as you know, has been full of horrific news and much gnashing of teeth over how far our civilization has sunk into violence and hatred. I’ve shared in those feelings. If I let myself, I can literally tremble in fear of what we have become and into what disasters we are headed. I’ve left my blogs sit idle, not because I had nothing to say but because I could not find adequate words.
Then this morning i opened Facebook and found myself smiling. There was my friend Bill, dangerously ill last week, now napping peacefully with a litter of colorpoint kittens. There was Ginger the Cat, pouncing on JoAnn’s covers to wake her up for breakfast. There was a happy dog prancing beside the gentleman who had just adopted him from a shelter. There was Keyboard the Kitten, balancing on the big cat’s food dish to steal a mouthful of crunchies. There was Watson, a wonderful Leader Dog rolling around in a patch of sun while his blind owner was safely seated beside him.
Best of all, Facebook had sent me two “Memories” of what I was doing one year ago. On this day, there was a raccoon who died in Toronto of undetermined causes. As he lay on the sidewalk all day, waiting for animal control to show up, strangers began leaving the raccoon little items to memorialize him—a flower, a childish hand-drawn sympathy card, even a small burning candle. And people walked respectfully around his body.
In Memphis on the same day, a young monkey escaped from his enclosure at the zoo and led his keepers on a merry chase. There were fears that he would run into traffic, get lost in the old forest that abuts the zoo property, or be washed away if there was a sudden downpour and flash flood in the drainage ditch where he was thought to be hiding. While he was on the loose, someone opened a Twitter account in his name so we could all follow his exploits. The whole city rejoiced the following day when he was found safe and returned to Primate Canyon. My own comment on Facebook was that I was happy he was safe, but i was going to miss his tweets. The world, I said, needs more plucky little adventurers like him.
No, I’m not naive enough to believe that our problems can be fixed by a kitten or puppy, or even a plucky little monkey. But they can help, by putting a smile on our faces, if only for a moment. By reminding us that animals are colorblind—they know nothing of skin tones, or race, or religious dogma. By reminding us to judge people only by their actions and by their hearts. We would do well to follow their example.