Animal Talk

Evelyn - Candler, North Carolina
Entered on August 9, 2008
Age Group: 30 - 50

Animal Talk

I believe animals can talk. Sadly, many of us choose not to listen.

Maybe I like to listen, because animals have always been part of my life. As a

kid, I had parakeets and guinea pigs. I did my best to keep my pets happy, but

being a kid usually means having fun with your pets while your parents do the

work. Nevertheless, my parents taught me to respect any form of life and to

fulfill the physical and mental needs of my animals.

Over the years, however, I learned that not everybody respects animals like I

do. Although some people are genuinely interested in the well-being of their pet

and consider it a part of the family, others think of pets as being “just an

animal,” a “thing” lacking emotions and the ability to communicate in our

language.

The animals’ disability to communicate is a common misconception. The other day,

for example, the community service coordinator at my school told me “Animals

can’t talk,” suggesting community service dealing with humans rather than

animals. His remark made me think: Is this misconception the reason why we treat

animals with so much disrespect? We dress dogs in pink tutus and put matching

nail polish on their claws, flush live fish down the toilet, stuff hamsters in

cages as big as a matchbox, or cut off a dog’s ear.

The dog in the pink tutu will not ask “Are you serious?” The hamster will not

complain about its tight cage nor will the fish comment on the inside of our

toilet bowl, none of which is to say that hamster, fish, and dog don’t protest

in their own language. Hamsters hiss, throw themselves on their back, or bite

when in distress. Fish will loose their bright color and swim frantic circles in

the toilet bowl. Expecting to be dressed up, the dog’s ears probably droop to

the floor. He may try to hide under the bed but surrender with a deep sigh when

his owner just doesn’t give up. After all, worse things could happen to him.

Just look at the one-eared dog that yelped in pain and bewilderment when his ear

was cut off.

I have seen abused dogs hitting the ground in fear at the sight of a belt. At

the shelter, new dogs are so intimidated by their surroundings that they crawl

out of the cage on their bellies, shaking uncontrollably. Others are hyperactive,

tearing up toys and blankets in their cage, jumping out of joy when I finally

take them for a walk. Some dogs are calm – not afraid, not hyperactive – but

cautious, because people have betrayed their trust too often.

Animals do talk, but it is us who often don’t understand communication more

subtle than human spoken language. When a dog looks at me with sad, brown eyes,

these eyes alone tell me his story. No need for words. I believe animals can

talk, and I hope I will always be able to listen.