Teach our children compassion for pets

Published 9:40 am Monday, April 15, 2013

Column: Something About Nothing, by Julie Seedorf

Our household was bordering on dull. There wasn’t the pitter patter of tiny little feet moving around anymore. Our children were grown and had fled the nest. Our grandchildren have to live with their parents so we only occasionally had the pitter patter of their tiny feet on our floors.

Julie Seedorf

Julie Seedorf

We didn’t have the pitter patter of our former dog Sam’s paws, clicking the floor or his hair carpeting our house. You could hear a pin drop at times when we chose to forgo the noise of the television. It became easier and easier to sleep in the mornings. There was no longer any reason to sweep the floor every day. The garbage can could smell of the scraps of food that were dumped because there was no longer any live creature, not even a mouse, to snork them up.

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We were dull! And then, and then, our daughter decided she couldn’t stand the dullness of our home any longer when she visited. She decided we needed life and so she found us a kitten. The kitten was dubbed Boris and we started our undull life together.

I have always been more of a dog person than a cat person. My husband has never been a cat person. But now we had Borris, and we had to be good cat parents. Borris was an easy kitty. He was litter-trained, had good manners and loved to be cuddled. He couldn’t open doors so I could put a folding door on my office, and Borris could visit when the time was right, and I opened the door. He was very content to purr and sleep and be cuddled. He brought smiles to our faces and laughter to our hearts.

I started to feel guilty about leaving Borris home alone when we had to go away. I was sure he would be lonely. One day I happened to be in a pet store buying food when a rescue group had cats for adoption. I saw this one that took my heart. She was part Siamese and part alley cat. She was cuddly and loveable and seemed to single me out. I left without her but couldn’t get her out of my heart so the next week I adopted sweet, quiet, cuddly Natasha. She would be the perfect wife for Borris.

The first week it was hate at first sight for the two and then love struck and they became inseparable. You will always find them cuddling and kissing, and yes they were spayed and neutered.

But something strange happened to sweet, cuddly, quiet Natasha. Our home was no longer dull. It seems Natasha is a thief and a mischief maker. Natasha finds and steals things that I didn’t know I had left in my house. She steals my husband’s glasses, my flash drives off my desk and whatever she can find.

Natasha is also a break-in expert. Natasha taught Borris to jump on the sink and climb through the open window casing to get to me in my office. Natasha could actually open the closed office accordion door by herself. She can also open our cupboard doors so we now have childproof locks.

Natasha is now working on the hook that we installed on my office door and trying to turn the knob on our bedroom door. One day, Natasha happened to open my QuickBooks, and print out an invoice on a printer in another room. I happened to be in that room and was startled to see my printer printing on it’s own.

Natasha is very interested in everything we do and she loves her human dad. He is her favorite. This quiet, cuddly kitty is a very busy girl. She also loves Borris and has taught him how to do many things. Our house is no longer boring and dull and I am now 100 percent a cat person and so is my husband.

Believe it or not this column is meant to be about compassion. Borris was also a rescue kitty. He found his way to someone’s home in the wheel well of a car. This person couldn’t keep him because of her health. Knowing my daughter’s love for cats this person asked her for help. I agreed to take Borris for a while until we could find him a good home. None of us wanted to see him cast off or put to sleep because of lack of a home. That is where the word compassion fits into this story.

The Webster Dictionary defines compassion as the sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate this distress. This person had compassion for this kitten and instead of casting him out she took him in, cared for him and found him a home. I would have to say this person treated this animal with compassion because she had been treated with that same compassion in her life.

We live in a crazy world. By that I mean there are so many things that do not make sense. In a world that is stressful and at times violent we may turn to our pets for the unconditional love that they give us. Their forgiveness surpasses the forgiveness that we as humans give to one another.

When does the pure heart of a child change and who changes it? Is it us? Do we fail to teach our children compassion? Do we fail to teach our children compassion for each other?

I follow a rescue group that rescues lost animals. These animals many times are abused and left for dead or abandoned by their owners. These animals are as innocent as our children. I often wonder if people who abuse their animals carry that abuse on to people.

I believe a better world starts with learning compassion for others. I believe it starts with learning compassion for children, animals, our environment, the disabled and the list is endless. You can’t legislate compassion, it can only be taught by example.

One of my favorite poems is by Dorothy Law Nolte it is called “Children Learn What They Live.” I challenge you to look it up and perhaps put it into practice if you are a parent or a grandparent.

My compassionate response to Borris and Natasha the next time they decide to help me eat my dinner: a kiss and a hug right before I lock them in the bathroom for a little time out.


Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at thecolumn@bevcomm.net.