As part of our COVID TV watching, Pat and I have started to
watch a number of animal and nature related programs. These include All
Creatures Great and Small. Arctic Vet and the Nature of Things. One
cannot watch these programs without becoming aware of the bonding that takes
place between we humans and animals of all kinds. You do not need a TV program
to learn this though the above are well worth watching.
Look how excited we get when we see a strange bird or an
animal in the wild such as an eagle, a deer or a bear. Have you ever been in a
boat with whales surfacing beside you? Witness too the popularity of all the
tours relating to bird watching and animal safaris and the many animal movies
The Indigenous People have it right. We are all inter-related and inter-dependant. In fact, in my view, animals generally bring out some
of Homo sapiens best qualities.
Like many, our family’s fondest and strongest connection with animals has been with our pets. Our three dogs, namely, a black lab CASEY, inherited from Pat’s parents (he was always getting out and caught by the dog catcher), a black cocker spaniel MIDNIGHT who was our family dog and MARLEY, a rescue dog Pat wanted to be a therapy dog.
Our children loved our family dog Midnight. I remember the
excitement of the children when they brought this little black puppy home. I
have fond memories of Jen when she was a teenager coming with Midnight to pick
me up at the GO Station. She was Midnight’s trainer and was devastated when he
did not pass his training. The children were though proud of Midnight when they
took him for a walk and our family holidays were often planned so Midnight
We got Marley from the ominous sounding ZEN Kennel. They did not supply his background but we could only guess. Marley was part Golden Retriever and part something else which we could never determine. A beautiful dog, friendly with people though not always with other dogs (thus disqualifying him as a pet therapy dog) and he levitated jumping on all fours whenever he was excited. He was named Marley by our son Stuart after Bob Marley because of his unkempt tangled hair when we got him. I might add, this was before the creation of the touching book and movie MARLEY and ME. Marley also suffered from separation anxiety and would howl for a long time when we left him alone. We wondered if people passing by wondered if he was being tortured.
We have no dogs now but our daughter, Heather and her family
have two (a gentle and accepting black lab SPIKE
and a small dog SOPHIE, who is mix of a greyhound and we think a dauhsand. In spite of her small size, she can run as
fast any other dog. She also sings along when we sing happy birthday. She was a
replacement for a 200 pound English Mastiff who died. For a short time, Heather
had three dogs.
Stuart and his family have one, an energetic Aussie Poodle BILLY,
as in Billybong. They all come to our place in the Beaver Valley so when
together, we pretend they are our dogs too!
Pets, however, can sometimes be a challenge or annoyance
such as when they steal your sock or get into the garbage or when you have to
clean up after them or wash them or they get into a fight with another animal
like a skunk.
Pets, however, mainly bring many moments of joy such as when
we walk them, throw sticks to be returned, stroke them, feeling their noses
sliding along our leg as they come to have their tummies rubbed or to get some
However, by looking after a pet, children learn to reach out
to others and your pet becomes an integral part of your family. The most
difficult is when they become sick.
Pets can be companions, protectors and a good way to meet
other neighbours and their dogs when you take them for a walk.
As Don Cherry, (who I do not agree with most of the time), once said about his dog Blue, “you can arrive home having had a bad day, the players hating you, the manager disagreeing with you, the media criticizing you but there is Blue at the door, tail wagging always glad to see you.”
These experiences are familiar to most pet owners be they
dogs, cats, horses, gerbils or some other animal such as a monkey, a goat or
even a snake. This was true too for the Arctic vets with walruses, seals and