This I Believe

Kenneth - Sewanee, Tennessee
Entered on September 15, 2006

I find it hard to believe in the overwhelming love of pets. The way they care for their owners and supply a seemingly unconditional cheer at being provided with food and water and only the most basic of provisions. If you have ever known the unabashed celebration of a puppy every time you arrive home, the sandpaper tongue and cottony tail with which your cat welcomes you to the day, or the pleasant comfort of sitting with a creature that just wants you, plain you, to stay with it just a bit longer because it senses you need a break from the day’s troubles, you understand the complexities of one of the most rewarding relationships any person can ever have.

Yes, pets can do their owners ill, but not ill will. Men are subject to intentionality, whereas I believe pets are simpler, more innocent. Now, I have chased down enough straying animals, cleaned up enough messes, and felt enough frustration with pets to know that they are no saints. However, my dog has never told me a lie, he has never betrayed my trust. I have never been jealous of him – maybe his lifestyle – but never have I wished him harm.

Tomorrow, my parents will be taking my dog Smokey and all of his fifteen years to the veterinarian. He will be confused in his blind and deaf state, but he will recognize the smell of the office. He will be set on top of a cold steel surgical table, not unlike the one I remember consoling him on when he got his shots as a puppy. Never again will he have to struggle with his failing hips or the skin problems that have ravaged his once shining sable coat or any other of the pains that come with extreme old age. He will look to my father and mother and he will fall into a deep sleep, and my truest confidant will pass from this world into the next.

Just yesterday, a professor gave me a poem by the 18th century English poet Christopher Smart. The poem concerns his cat Jeoffrey, and I cannot help but consider the synchronicity. This evening I am struck by the lines “For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest. For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.” And this is my belief: that God gave man a charge to care for nature, but that charge was not without reward.

I believe that no man can live outside of society, and I believe that no society is complete without pets. To affect the miser, the cynic, the fool who no man can reach, provide a creature without judgment, with love and no more.