Seven weeks from the day that I bought my little mare off of the internet, Raven got her feet trimmed by a farrier. This was the last thing that needed to be done now that she was cleared and healthy. It’s a basic health need, something that we couldn’t have done while she was still contagious with strangles. The next weekend, she would leave her temporary home at Tinstar Ranch and settle into her new home, where I could see her every day instead of once a week. I couldn’t wait!
Thinking about what a crazy whirlwind it had been over those weeks, it brought me around to an appreciative mood – for the joy, perspective, and lessons that the animals in my life had given me. Though Raven had been my focus for the last two months, I always went back home to snuggle my Max, the playful, handsome grey and white cat that I had adopted from a shelter one year before. It was our Maxiversary! I thought about how from the day I brought him home he had been such a ray of sunshine – he made me laugh every day with his crazy antics, and I needed laughter in my life. I’d never felt such complete responsibility, protectiveness, and real love for the men that went through my life than I had for my Max and Raven. In my experience up to that point, humans hurt me, but animals were a special kind of spirit – you felt their love in your soul, without judgment.
As a kid, I grew up surrounded by pets – stray cats and kittens, a parade of dogs from the shelter – but they were thrown away as easily as they were acquired. Litters born to our mama cat were given away in a box at church, dogs that were brought home for a while and didn’t work out were sent back to the shelter or dropped off in a field near some people who were known to take in strays. As a kid, I just accepted this as normal, and even perpetuated the behavior with my horses – when I was going to college, I donated my first horse to a college riding program, and when I went back to grad school, I gave away my old trail horse to a couple with their own property who would lightly trail ride him. This was a pattern I recognize now that makes me feel guilty and disappointed. It showed the best and worst things a human can do for an animal – save them, love them, give them peace and comfort and trust, and then throw them back into uncertainty and fear again, just because they’re no longer convenient to care for. I thought that now, with my own rescue animals Max and Raven, if I ever succumb to the human “easy way out” mentality with them, then curses on me. They deserve a home, safety, and love, and not to have their trust betrayed and their feeling of safety come crashing down again.
This time, I would strive to deserve them. Sometimes when all I could see of the human world was cruelty, indifference, and pain, my animals showed me the beauty, peace, and the nature of true spirit and groundedness that we lose as humans in the violence of the world we created. I needed them, probably more than they needed me. But I would live up to my part of the bargain with them, and not throw them back into the uncertainty they came from when they came to me. It’s the least I could give them in return for the light they brought to my life.