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From 29 August 2004 Issue

AR Pets
By Michelle Rivera - MichelleRivera1@aol.com 

I feel that sometimes we take our relationships with our companion animals for granted. This feeling comes over me mostly when I am lying quietly by myself and my very timid, rescued Siamese kitty comes to me and snuggles in deeply, purring with pleasure. What must it take for her to trust me so completely? How does an animal learn to trust a species so different from his own, especially when members of that other species has abused, neglected or abandoned them in the past?

It's not natural for animals of different species to really love each other. Sure, sometimes in nature they learn to co-exist, such as squirrels and blue jays who live in our backyards. They tolerate one another, they learn not to be fearful of one another, but they don't sleep together, eat together, carry one another around in their paws or offer their soft underbellies for petting.

What a privilege! What an honor it is to be so trusted and so loved by an animal. Animals, for the most part, are very forgiving of our trespasses and usually show an eagerness to move past such wrongdoings as a bath, a pedicure, an ear cleaning or an abbreviated play time. They want to love us, they want to be with us and all they ask is a chance to interact with us and be our friend.

Admittedly, dogs are much quicker than cats to offer their love and affection. Cats have to see that we are worthy of their friendship and every day I have to prove it over and over again. But my reward for earning her trust is a bond so deep and impenetrable that we often forget that there once was a time when humans and animals were natural enemies.

Of course, we are still natural enemies of most of the world's animals. We certainly need to work on that some more.

Despite years and years of co-habiting with cats, I still feel a surge of pleasure and contentment when I wake up in the night and find that my kitty has joined me and is sleeping contentedly by my side or on my pillow. I cherish those moments and find it hard to fall back asleep because I want to savor the moment and take advantage of the quiet communion between us. My life is so much richer for having my companion animals in it. I can't imagine, really, how people without them struggle through their days!

So when I hear the tired old accusation that animal rightists are trying to turn us into a nation of people without household pets, I feel sad to be so misunderstood. When Wayne Pacelle recently moved to the head of the class, so to speak, when he accepted a position as President of the HSUS, the newspapers were full of admonitions to "enjoy your pets while you can" because, ostensibly, he's an animal rights activist who believes that people should not own pets. I don't know where or when this obvious fabrication started, who started it and why, but it's a nuisance to have to deny it over and over again. The PETA calendar, year after year, frequently includes photos of rescued animals who have gone to live with this Peta worker or that Peta worker. But I guess cold, hard evidence is considered a moot point if it does not further the lies of those who claim to have allied themselves in order to protect the "interests" of animals.

As I work at my desk day after day I am accompanied by my three rescued cats, a retired greyhound and a puppy who will someday be the next "Hospice Hound." I believe in the rights of animals and I believe in sharing our homes with companion animals and I can say with 100% certainty that I am not alone.

Go on to California Assembly Passes Bill To Ban Foie Gras
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