A Different Animal

 

The trivia question for this week is, What furry critter, one we might see every day, is known to adopt orphan babies of their own kind?

One of the great joys of my life, especially as I look back on it a half-century later, is living in the aptly named Mountain State of West Virginia in a very isolated area of that magnificent place.  I can still see the old bear scratching against the fence and my friend the West Virginia bobcat, knighted as Brook Cat, the Mystical Man of the Mountain. At night when the coyotes yip outside my window now, I remember the howl of the mountain wolves as they called to each other across the hills. I developed a deep understanding and a feeling of oneness with these animals and have no respect for game hunters and the needless slaughter and cruelty to those who share this planet with us and are helpless before us.

Did you know that a wolf pack, as it moves across the land, will have the oldest and sickest in the front to set the pace for the strongest ones in the pack? That is because if the oldest were in the back of the group they could get left behind or caught in an ambush. The strongest wolves are at the back of the pack and move according to the pace set by the elders. They are there for protection.

In the ocean, Dolphins exhibit strong social bonds and are a species that not only show caring toward their own but toward others as well. They have saved humans from shark attacks and drowning and have also helped seals and whales.  Did you know sea otters–a mother and a pup–will hold on to each other while sleeping to keep from drifting away from each other? They also make use of kelp! They wrap themselves in long strands of kelp, which grow from the sea floor all the way up to the surface of the water, and use the kelp as an anchor so they can sleep without worry of floating out to the open ocean.

Elephants! I’m sure we have all read stories about elephants mourning a death of a herd member, but perhaps the most famous story, which also shows their deep caring for people, is about the elephants that walked for 12 hours to the home of Lawrence Anthony, the conservationist who saved their lives. They walked slowly, many with heads bowed, until they reached Mr. Anthony’s home, and stayed for two days mourning his death.

Then there is the animal that has been known to leave companions to die and often think only of themselves. They wage war on each other for profit and power. As a whole, they are a self-centered, narcissistic group that is so afraid of its own peril they build walls to keep away anyone who is not just like them.  Today they are attempting to cut survivor benefits for the elderly and unlike the wolf, effectively leave their own behind. They put them in “homes” where they are often mistreated and forgotten even by family members. The list of atrocities of this group of animals, called humans, is so egregious it will someday clog the history books and disgust those who read about it, if indeed there is anyone left to read. Those in the future who might read may be as revolted as we should be today, before it’s too late. Yes, I want to be an animal with fur, four legs, and paws because the species of animal I was born into totally sickens me.

Fortunately, there is hope. I have friends who feel the same as I do. But feeling it is not enough. We need to walk behind the weakest to hold them up, wrap ourselves in the kelp of unselfish kindness, and walk the extra mile for a friend who may have saved our lives without even knowing it. We need to take down the walls we all build and say come on in. When we do that, I will start to feel a part of a pack worth following, and if I can’t have fur and four legs and paws, at least I can be proud to be a human.

In the podcast there will be some random thoughts, some rock and roll, and the answer to the trivia question. I hope you’ll join me on the shores of Rambling Harbor.

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