Animals In Print
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28 July 2011 Issue

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Does A Calf Cry?

By Robert Cohen,

"To me, the term 'guardian' is a term of endearment and responsibility. If our language changes, usually action follows."
- Elliot Katz

Consider the two-way love affair between you and your dog, cat, or parakeet. Does the bird sing when you enter the room? Will the cat brush up against your leg, purring with her pleasure in pleasing you? Does your dog whimper when sad, or jump with joy, his tail unable to contain the excitement in seeing you come home after being away from your presence for just twenty minutes?

Do animals feel? Do pigs smell blood and hear death squeals from those who are slaughtered before them? Do calves cry when separated from their mothers? Do animals feel pain? Read the poem below and imagine the non-human's perspective.


The House Dog's Grave
Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962)

I've changed my ways a little; I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream; and you,
If you dream a moment,
You see me there.

So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you'd soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.

I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no,
All the nights through
I lie alone.

But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read,
And I fear often grieving for me.
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

You, man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying.
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope that when you are lying
Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dears, that's too much hope:
You are not so well cared for as I have been.
And never have known the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided...
But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely. I am not afraid. I am still yours.

If you are the master of your home and your emotions, read this poem as tribute to the creature who was your
companion. Instead of hugging a tree, hug a vegetarian. These strange people have the wisdom to recognize that
animals have emotions similar to ours. They choose not to eat creatures who feel pain.

Today's column is for all of the guardian animals who have lost their human friends this year. Few people
consider animal feelings when their best friend passes on.

Today's column is for all of the guardian humans who have lost their animal friends this year. The loss
of a companion animal can be a deep pain which never goes away.

How can any human who has ever had such a bond with one animal, be it dog or cat, or bird, eat the arms
and legs and digest the pain of another mammal? In our infinite arrogance and lack of understanding, dare
we chew upon the Southern fried wing of an angel, savoring the marrow?

Robert Cohen

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