Kids & Animals

When I was a little girl I had a dream of growing up and owning my own farm where I could take in all the stray animals everywhere...always. That was a pretty big dream for such a little girl, but I was able to get a jump-start on that dream by bringing various strays into our lives over the years. I am pretty much responsible for every pet my family's had in the past 40 years. I can't help it though...I have a HUGE soft spot for animals. For example, I'm a vegetarian. I tried going veg on and off my whole life. I never did like red meat, mostly chicken & fish. But 6 years ago I went veggie without looking back. This book was the catalyst for ending my appetite for meat forever. (thank you, John Robbins!) ♥

My mom, me, and my G-ma's chihuahua.

My crazy love for animals started before I could even talk. I loved spending time at my Grandma's farm in Checotah, OK. The goats were my favorite. ツ  My animals were my entire world growing up. They helped me through times in my life when really bad things were happening all around me. I could always depend on their love...their comfort...their cuddles. They always reminded me of what happiness felt like...and they gave it to me with lots of snuggles, silliness, and sloppy, floppy-tongued kisses. ツ

Breaking from all the happy memories, there was a time when my love for animals led to tragedy and heartbreak at my tender young age. I was about four. We lived in a trailer park in Mississippi...me, my mom, my step-dad, and Lobo...my ever-faithful German Shepherd. One day I wandered off to a neighbor's trailer. Her cat had given birth to kittens underneath the trailer just a few weeks before and I was dying to see them. It was love at first sight and I could not resist the urge to pick one up to cuddle with. I wasn't even thinking about Lobo, my big, sweet boy who protectively followed me everywhere. As nature would have it, that sweet little kitten bundle was too much for Lobo to ignore. He lunged for the kitten and I started to freak out. I yelled, "NO, Lobo! Go away!" several times and stretched my little arms to hold the kitten as high up in the air as I could........but it was no use. Lobo had the kitten in his mouth in no time at all, shaking it like a ragdoll toy. My mom arrived just in time to see what happened. She scooped me up and held me as I cried and cried. She took Lobo home and then we went to find the kitten and bury it after saying a little prayer. ♥

To this day, I feel guilty about that poor, helpless kitten and my dangerous curiosity. But I did find a way to use the experience in some small way. I took the indelible images left in my mind from that traumatic event and used them to describe the wolves devouring rabbits in my Solitary Sky Series. ツ

me & one of my GG-pa's kitties ツ

Memories of my animal-abundant childhood got me thinking about kids and their seemingly innate love of animals. How they seem to have a natural bond with all kinds of animals. And I started wondering what that bond is all about...and why do some people lose that bond as they get older?
I think it might have something to do with innocence. Children who have not yet been burdened with the responsibilities of life, or the heaviness of human existence connect with creatures who lack the same awareness. Their innocence and the purity of the love and happiness they give each other cement that magical bond....it's a really beautiful thing! ツ

Some of us...I like to call the lucky ones...maintain that bond with animals throughout their entire lifetime. The crazy cat lady....the tireless pet adoption worker....the kind-hearted foster parents....all those who try to make the world a better place for animals...and those of us who share our homes and our hearts with the animals who have become part of our family forever. ♥ 

I think we can see a return to that fragile innocence we had as children when we look into the eyes of our animals. We see it in the unconditional love they give us day after day. It's kind of a way for us to hold on to that innocence even as the world around us is filled with unkindness and tragedy. We hold fast to the purity of the love our animals share with us...and they remind us to be kind. To show kindness to everyone we meet and most importantly...to ourselves. ♥♥♥

...is all we need! ♥