They say that if you want your children to love or do something, you should start them young.
Well, I’ve probably come to love animals because I grew up surrounded by them on my grandparents’ farm. My grandmother had an important part to play in it; it’s because she used to take such good care of all the animals that roamed our courtyards and gardens and got me to help out that I really started noticing animals and enjoying them.
Springs used to be seasons of great preparation and joy as new litters were born and countless small feathery birds hatched to life. To this day, I do not believe there’s anything tenderer than a soft, newly hatched chick or more beautiful than a playful kitten.
Childhood passed and the time came to move to the city and to the parameter of my parents’ urban apartment. It was a much more comfortable lifestyle, but I never got my parents to consent to the idea of getting a pet lest it made too big of a mess of our perfect apartment. Although they mellowed down to the thought of getting one in time, all attempts to bring and keep a pet within our walls ended up stillborn.
Eventually I left my hometown to go to university in the big city. I volunteered sporadically for different NGOs that looked after stray animals, a real problem back home. It came more naturally to help hands-on after I actually got a job and I started rescuing stray animals myself.
It was partly rewarding to save and restore them to the beautiful creatures they’d always been meant to be; largely, I was doing it so that I could regain a bit of the companionship I had enjoyed as a child. The saved animal I’m most proud of is a dog called Bark, which now lives happily with one of our neighbours in the countryside.
The one I cannot get out of my head is a cat dubbed Harry Potter, which I stupidly gave up for adoption after I’d looked after him for almost a year.
I would get him back if I could.
Some more years passed and I moved countries; I now live in the UK, where animal welfare and NGOs are light years ahead compared to the largest part of the world. It gives me great joy to see that there are rescue officers out there who go to extreme lengths to save a duck that’s strayed out of a pond or a cat that’s been too adventurous in its neighbourhood prowls.
After all, it’s a sign of love for animals and attention that all life deserves.
(To be continued.)