Kindness to animals and to all living things is one good way of expressing true religion. -Joseph F. Smith
Many times we are all so wrapped up inside our heads that we don’t notice what is going on around us. And other times we witness something so emotionally charged it jolts us back into the reality outside ourselves. This was the case on this particular day I boarded the water taxi heading to San Pedro from Belize City.
As I took my seat, I noticed a boy stepping on to the boat with a dog wrapped in a towel. He seemed to be about 15 years old or so. As he cleared the last stairs, entering the boat I could tell by the concerned look on his face that he was distraught and looking closer at the dog he held close to him, explained why. The poor dog was quite sick.
Half the size of the boy, the dog hung aimlessly in the towel in the boys arm; eyes wild and glazed over, his mouth moving, constantly gasping for air. Someone offered the boy help to carry the dog and he waved them away. He found a seat, depositing the dog beside him folding the towel around the animal. As we headed out to sea I could feel the compassion and sympathy in the air for this boy and his dog. Everyone was silent as they witnessed this boy holding the dog close to his lap.
Animals remind us of our vulnerability and mortality. They provide a gateway to experience simple unconditional love. If you have or love animals you will know what I mean. Pets have a simple language, feed me, love me and I will protect you and love you unconditionally. Animals that become our pets give us a glimpse of what it would be like to live in harmony with all creatures on this planet.
When we are kind to animals we give back for centuries of abuse they have experienced under human dominance. I believe everyone should have the decency to treat animals with kindness and respect and not make them suffer in anyway unnecessarily. I believe animals have a right to live without having abuse, or exploitation. It has been shown that animals are capable of feeling pain, hunger, thirst, loneliness and kinship.
Dogs are very wonderful animals. To understand and open one’s self to the love of an animal is to truly know “unconditional love”! They know no other way to love. They give of themselves in spite of receiving nothing in return. They will remain loyal and protective, though they may receive no thanks or gratitude in return.
Animals ask only for the most basic and simplest of things… food, water, shelter, kindness, a gentle word occasionally and a warm hand to pet them. For no more than that, they will lay down their life for you, willingly, eagerly. They know no other way to love. If you abuse them, they will forgive you. If you are unkind, they will turn another cheek. If you hurt them, they will accept it. If you ignore them, they will remain silent at your side. If you turn them out, you need only beckon and they will return gladly. They know no other way to love. Once you understand this, truly understand what it means… once you have allowed this to sink into your consciousness and let yourself grasp the true and loving nature of these animals, you will eventually realize what a great gift it is to have a pet.
By Chris Emmanuel