My mom never had a dog or a cat. She had a bad experience with dogs as a kid and is extremely allergic to cats. We had fish growing up. However, she raised me into the animal-loving person I am through her examples. She made it very clear through her actions that just because you might not be comfortable with an animal, doesn't make it any less deserving of compassion and respect.
Here are just a few of the awesome ways she has shown compassion and respect for animals.
- Her book, "Everything Kids' Nature" won one of the inaugural Henry Bergh Children's Book honors from the ASPCA in 2000.
- She once stopped the car in a street three blocks from home because there was a cat in the road and she didn't want to accidentally hit it.
- When I was in junior high and my girl scout troop found an injured squirrel during our park cleanup, she helped us call Animal Control and allowed us to mourn for the poor hurt creature.
- She took me to riding lessons for years and even made a witch costume for a costume class, despite being a little intimidated by the Quarter Horse mare she had to measure.
- She arranged a trip to Assateague to see the wild equines and then "adopted" a mare which for me which meant paying for birth control darts for her to help keep the herd a healthy size.
- She bought me Andy Warhol cat prints to celebrate my Toby.
- She loves supporting the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and their conservation efforts.
- She convinced her editor at Yes Mag to include not only that kids should find ways to help their local shelter, but also a photo of one of WHS's awesome dogs (Nyla) to show how beautiful shelter pups could be.
- On one of my last trips home, after I mentioned Big Black Dog Syndrome and how colorful bandannas help--she whipped out some beautiful fabrics, and made bandannas for the shelter dogs.
She raised three children who love animals. My brother called me to ask what temperature is too cold for a dog to be outside when he noticed his neighbor in El Paso had their dogs outside over night. My sister is incredibly supportive of my volunteer work with WHS and loves to dogsit for her friends. Obviously my mom did something to show us the importance of compassion for animals.
You don't need to grow up surrounded by pets to grow up learning to respect animals. On this mother's day, I'm really proud of my mom.