A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘pets

If you’ve read this blog before, you might know that our household includes a number of pets:

  • one bulldog that’s generally ready to play and run toward us with her body turned sideways;
  • one cat that drools like a dripping tap when he’s being cuddled;
  • one corn snake that likes to hang around my husband’s neck or try to fit in his pockets; and
  • two finches that want us to whistle or sing to them but do not want to spend time in their bird baths.

When I was growing up, my family always had at least one cat and one dog, and at various times we also had hamsters, gerbils, fish and turtles. We even had a calf that followed my father around like a dog, and a pig that would sit for apples and tomatoes. (For those of you taken aback, we were living in the country.)

our cat

Our cat, Skittles

All this to say that my husband and I love animals and have taught our son to treat them with kindness.

And so I felt pretty angry when I read a newspaper article today that described how a store employee lost her job after confronting a customer who had left a dog locked in a vehicle with the windows rolled up.

Given the terrible but all-too-common news about animals found in distress in hot cars and about how quickly the temperature rises in a closed car, how could it have been wrong for this woman to express her concern?

Section 2416 of the Catechism has this to say about our relationship with animals:

Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St Francis of Assisi or St Philip Neri treated animals.

We also read in s. 2418 that “It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly.” What does it say about our society that we continue to hear each summer about the distress and death of pets left in locked cars?

If we believe that, as s. 2417 tells us, “God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image,” then we need to show it by leaving our dogs at home when we go to the store or to our kids’ activities. By not walking our dogs on very hot and humid days or very cold days. By keeping our cats indoors where they’ll be safe from accidents and predators. By ensuring we meet our pets’ needs for good health and loving care.

Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals. We entreat for them all your mercy and pity, and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion, gentle hands and kindly words.

– From “Prayer For the Animals,” Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers

zebra finch

Syd, my son’s pet finch

My house got a little noisier this weekend. Okay, a lot noisier. My son adopted a bird with special needs.

Our local pet store was giving away a zebra finch with balance problems. For some reason, he can’t fly well and has trouble perching. Still, he enjoys our company, eats his food messily like most pet birds, and sings his little heart out…which he started at 6:45 a.m. today. It was probably more pleasant for my son to wake up to birdsong than to a beeping alarm clock.

I know some people would not have chosen this bird. He’s kind of wobbly and clumsy. But my son enjoys caring for him and the finch, Syd, has decided we’re his flock.

That’s how it is with God and us. Even though, since we’re human, not one of us is perfect, God loves and cares for us and uses us to fulfill his plans, as and where we are.

For example, Abraham was elderly when God made him the father of a great nation (see Genesis 21). Moses was a fugitive who had killed a man, yet God chose him to lead Israel to freedom (see Exodus 2 and 3). David was a young shepherd when God chose him to be king (see 1 Samuel 16). Peter was an uneducated fisherman, yet he was the rock Jesus chose to build his church on (see Matthew 16:18). And reading about the saints tells us that many were poor, unschooled, ill, or simply cantankerous, yet God used them to spread the good news and bring healing and comfort to those in need.

Sadly, our society tends to pigeonhole people, deciding they can’t contribute because of their age, their mental or physical challenges, or their social status. Which can lead to disturbing social changes such as the rising abortion rate for babies with Down syndrome or pushes to enact or expand laws on assisted suicide. But how can we value people so little when everyone has worth in God’s eyes?

On Thursday, for the first time, I walked in the March for Life. People came to Ottawa from all over Ontario and Quebec: families with young children, seniors, busloads of high school students and parishioners, and priests and religious; people from all ethnicities and walks of life; people who walked in the March and those who could not but held up signs and waved to encourage those who did.

march for life

March for Life

How wonderful it would be if we could pull together like this more often on the big issues, and if we could focus each day on one another’s strengths and our common ground so that more of us would use our gifts and sing out like Syd.


Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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