Last night a terrible thing happened. I discovered just how blind and insensitive I had been regarding a simple current need of my wonderful puppy Shadow.
My next door neighbor Rebecca and I had decided to watch the second film put out by the Transition movement (BTW: it’s wonderful, and I had the odd experience of feeling the camera lovingly caress each human being encountered.)
I was lying on the plush leather couch. Rebecca was in the vast matching easy chair with footstool. Both of us extremely comfortable. Puppy Shadow came up, climbed up on Rebecca’s lap, looked her in the eye insistently as he kept wiping his paw across his left eye. She looked closely. There was dried goo in the corner of his eye that must have been hurting him. We softened it, got it out.
The point is, he has climbed on my lap many times, looked at me insistently in the eye, and instead of tuning in, I have gone through my litany of his usual needs — food? water? potty outside? — and did not realize that his eye — actually both his eyes — had dried goo in their corners. How long had he been uncomfortable? He may have pulled his paw over his eye in front of me as well, but I didn’t recognize the gesture. Thank goodness she did.
It reminds me of another recent event where I did recognize what was going on, and, again thanks to Rebecca, we fixed that, too. One of our two rabbits in residence had come to us to be rehomed here in a typical rabbit cage, with a mesh wire bottom. I’ve always winced, when looking at his paws, how that must feel to be standing on wire all day. But I have never done anything about it, in all these years.
When we had the “polar vortex” freeze, I put this rabbit, who is quite old by now, in a kitty carrier in the greenhouse with the other rabbit who lives in there in a cage with a real floor to it. After three days there, I put him back outside in his usual cage. He looked me directly in the eye with a startled fierceness as he lifted one of his paws, briefly, from the wires. I winced, as usual.
I told Rebecca later that it’s as if he didn’t realize he was entitled to happiness until he got out of the wire mesh bottomed cage and on to a solid surface. Before that he had been just existing. The contrast between those three days of comfort and security vs. his usual uncomfortable, if not downright painful existence startled him into trying to communicate with me this newly recognized need.
Rebecca suggested we solve that problem by putting a pile of straw in the cage, so that he can make a nest with it, and can walk and stand on straw rather than wire. He’s obviously happy now. Why didn’t I think of this earlier? Why did I just wince and then try to ignore his plight?
There’s a strange disconnect within myself that sometimes surfaces.
Here’s a trailer to the 2006 movie Earthlings that brings up tears. Followed by a short, and very potent, Thomas Berry interview.