Monday, October 27, 2008

Kindred Spirits

I've met so many amazing people when I've gone out to do events from readings to talks to events with unreleasable owls! I guess that people who would gravitate toward an animal book would, of course, be kindred spirits, but I wasn't prepared for the kindness and sharing that people offer via letters, emails, and personal encounters!

I've also discovered that it's impossible to respond to everyone, which is why my publisher suggested I start the blog - that way I can voice my thoughts and hear from you. It's wonderful! Thank you all so much for the many comments and kind words, and for sharing your own experiences w/ your animal companions.

One person asked me if I've read Merle's Door and indeed I have! I cried my eyes out on that one, knowing full well that I probably would. I was very impressed at how he treated "his" dog as an equal being with an equal right to make his own decisions. If you haven't read it, you ought to. It's a great book about two people, one of whom is a dog, who find love and companionship with each other.

We don't have a word in the English language for "personhood" or "personality" in animals. So, rather than try to make up some awkward phrase, I find myself using the word personality. Then I think about what we mean when we say, "person" and I think, "well in that sense, then, animals are people. No they're not at all human but they do have sentience, personality, emotion, intelligence, and their own kind of ethic, depending on the species." So, yes, personhood in a sense.

I have always marveled at the way a human being can bring together the most unlikely of animals who will become friend with EACH OTHER in the presence of a benign and loving human. A goat and a cat, a dog and a bird, etc. That amazes me. What is it about human affection that allows these other animals to bond with EACH OTHER?

But then I had this thought the other day, humans also bond with each other in the presence of a benign and loving ANIMAL! How many of us have bonded over the way we both loved our animals, the way I love(d) Wesley bonds me to other people who have deeply loved their animal, and we feel that we somehow know each other, that there is a kindred spirit between us - an understanding of some of the deepest feelings humans can have? Many people have found friendship with other humans because of their ANIMALS!

So it goes both ways. The animals bring us together, and we bring together unlikely species of animals to be friends.

It's all a wonderful mystery!

1 comment:

a little doc said...

I have to admit, I seriously cried at the end. I raised a house finch from my 3rd year in college through my intern year in medicine. My little guy, Cheepka, albeit small compared to Wes, taught me so much more about life in general. I am so glad that Ms O'Brien wrote this book about Wesley. So many expierences, besides the mice, were so similar to mine. I will treasure this book forever!!!
Elaine M. Peplow, MD