Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Animal Planet

By Annette Dashofy

(As you’re reading this, I’m mourning the passing yesterday of my 19-year-old pussycat, BooBoo, so I’m even more emotional over furry creatures in pain than I am most days.)

We don’t have access to cable television here at home, but since my mom’s been rehabbing from her latest hip surgery in a nursing facility, I’ve had a chance to surf more than our usual seven channels. Mostly, the experience has convinced me that cable only gives you more stations with nothing on, so making the complete round with the remote takes longer.

However, there is one station I can almost always rely on to offer something entertaining.

Animal Planet.

This Sunday, I tuned in to a show I have a love/hate relationship with. Animal Cops. It’s definitely my kind of show, except that I end up a sobbing wreck at some point during most episodes. I also end up homicidal when they’re going after the heartless, soulless creeps that do such things to animals. The latest episode involved a small, gray and white kitten whose owner had been heard threatening to throw it out the second story window. Apparently, he’d made good on the threat, because the little cutie was found seriously injured on the sidewalk. The heroes of the series whisked it off to the vets who determined that both back legs had been broken.

“I can’t watch this,” I said to my mom. But I did. And the scene that followed convinced me that I made the right decision long ago to NOT become a vet.

During surgery, the veterinarian discovered that the injuries were old. So old that she couldn’t reduce the fractures. Not only had this kitty’s owner tossed it from the window, the vet suspected he’d thrown the kitten against the wall, too.

She couldn’t save the little one. The happy ending I’d been hoping to witness didn’t happen. They had to put the kitten to sleep.

Did they catch the beast who’d done this? I assume so. Otherwise, why bother including it in the episode? But I couldn’t watch it anymore and shut the TV off. (If anyone out there saw it, please tell me they caught the guy and executed him on the spot).

To be honest, I’m a mess when fictional animals die, too. A couple years ago, against my better judgment, we went to see the Disney movie Eight Below. I began sobbing when the first dog died and didn’t stop until a half hour after the movie had ended. One of my earliest memories is of hiding under the dashboard of my parents’ car in hysterics while watching Old Yeller at the drive-in.

Another movie I should never have watched was Ruffian, the story of the great racehorse from the 70’s. I remember when the real Ruffian died. I cried then. I cried all over again watching the movie. Not just a few sniffles into a tissue. I’m talking full blown blubbering. Heaven help me if they ever make a movie about Barbaro.

What is it that makes me (and apparently lots of others) such a basket case over the plights of animals? Why do I become absolutely livid at the cruelty of some so-called humans who do such vicious things to helpless pets? Yes, I feel outrage over man’s inhumanity to man, but man’s inhumanity to the small furry (and larger hooved) creatures of the world really sets me off. Perhaps it’s the helplessness of animals. They have no choice in the matter. We’re their stewards in this world. And sadly, too many of us don’t take that responsibility to heart.

Rest in peace, BooBoo (one of the lucky ones who only knew love in his world).


Joyce said...

I think the same kind of people who hurt animals are the same kind who hurt children. And I agree, they should be executed on the spot.

Annette said...

Joyce, I definitely think there is a link there. I'd call those creeps "animals" but that's a real smear on the gentler beasts of the world.

Tory said...

I think it's animal's innocence that gets to you. Adult humans, it's easier to harbor doubts that they deserved it.

Nancy said...

Listen to some Enya, Annette. For me, Enya is the ultimate animal funeral music. I hate it, but it's soothing. It works.

Annette said...

I just happen to have a few Enya CDs around here somewhere. I'll give it a shot.

I'm hoping to stop crying long enough to stick my contacts in my eyes at some point this afternoon. I wasn't doing to bad until I went downstairs to put in a load of laundry and had to come face-to-face with Boo's empty bed, untouched water dishes, and litterboxes.

Taking a deep breath and going in search of Enya...

Gina said...

Sorry to hear about BooBoo. When my sweet cat Moriah died some years ago, I found myself wearing a copper necklace with cats on it for about a year afterward. I'm not sure that can be considered mourning, but it seemed comforting in a way.

I agree with immediate execution (or at least severe beating) for anyone who harms the helpless, be they animals or human beings.

I find it much more difficult to write injury to animals than injury to humans. In one of my many unsold novels, my point of view character poisons a dog. It was a necessary scene, setting up her subsequent murder of the dog's owners, an older couple, but it was a lot easier to write her killing off the people than the dog.

Cathy said...

I'm about as wild as you are about the animals. Not only did I cry at Old Yeller, but I howled at Bambi (the mother was killed--how terrible). My parents were sorry they'd taken me to the movies. The moment it looks like an animal will be hurt on television, I switch off. Can't take it.

So sorry about BooBoo. When Anna passed, I put 8 by 10 photos on the wall of every room in the house so I wouldn't forget a hair of her (not the bathrooms). I didn't know about Enya. Take care and glad you have Skye to keep things lively. Hope your mother's progressing well.

Annette said...

Gina, I know what you mean. I can't write about harming an animal. One of the reasons I like having my protagonist be a veterinarian is because she can make the sick ones all better.

Cathy, I have a small memorial in my office with pictures of my kitties who have passed on. Boo's picture will be joining them. I also have a baby tooth of each of the two colts I raised.

Yes, I'm weird, but you all knew that already.

As for Skye kitty, she will have none of my moping. She climbs up on my lap, looks me in the face and says, "Snap out of it! You still have me. What more do you need?"

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear of Boo-Boo's passing. I think I'll go give my Little Prince Fred an extra hug and kiss. (He loves to be tossed over my shoulder and kissed.)

jody said...

Oh, Annette, I'm so sorry about BooBoo. Allow yourself time to grieve, and know that your other kitty will need to 'grieve' in her own way.
This may sound wierd, but, trust me, it really happened - I was in the yard with my Dane one evening about a year ago, when all of a sudden (I can't think of any other way to describe it) the air around me felt 'squeezed'. The next thing I was aware of was a presence in my mind that was "GoodBoyLuke", and he 'showed' me a rag toy and a cat.
I never knew any dog named Luke, but my best friend (who is a cop) had a friend (also a cop) who had had her (drug dog/partner)Doberman put to sleep some months earlier, and was still pretty broken up over it. I told my friend about GoodBoyLuke's 'visit', and she confirmed for me that, (1) his owner always called him Good Boy Luke, (2) his favorite toy was a sock/rag, and (3) he was especially close to their cat, who had died some years earlier. I asked my friend to pass on the feeling that I got from GoodBoyLuke, his 'message', which was - "please be happy, we're waiting for you"
So, it's okay to be sad for a while - but know that BooBoo's soul waits for you, and wants you to be happy.

lisa curry said...

Annette, so sorry to hear about Booboo. May he rest in peace. XOXO.

Annette said...

Thanks, guys. And love the story of your special visitor, Jody. I've had a number of similar experiences.

Lorraine, give his royal highness a hug from me, too.

Clea Simon said...

A wonderful post Annette, and please know that me, Musetta (the wonder kitty), and all of us who love animals are thinking of you. BooBoo sounds like a wonderful being, and it is right to mourn him. I hope the pain passes and you can think of him with pleasure again, soon.