Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Dove

I went out tonight to celebrate a friend's birthday at a restaurant where I had never been. I love eating out and always look forward to trying new restaurants. I had an absolutely wonderful time - the company was great, as were the food and drinks. I don't go out as much as I used to, so just going out to dinner for a birthday celebration was something I really looked forward to. And the evening was absolutely awesome. Until I got home.

I walked into my house and started to make my way back to my bedroom. In the hallway I discovered a few light gray feathers in the hallway scattered about. As my heart skipped a beat, I realized that one of my cats had probably killed a bird and I'd find its body somewhere.

After looking around, I didn't see anything until I went into the guest bathroom. It was a gruesome sight - blood and feathers everywhere. The bathroom is all white. White tile floors, walls & ceiling. But tonight it was covered with blood splatters and feathers. Bits of feathers stuck in the drying blood, blood splattered on the side of the tub, up the walls, all over the floor. And blood splatters out into the hallway on the baseboard.

In the midst of all the blood and feathers was a beautiful little dove. Still alive and moving. And suffering. This is one thing that I absolutely cannot bear - an animal suffering.

I didn't know what to do, but one thing was certain. I absolutely could not let this little bird suffer for even one more minute. I ran into the kitchen and grabbed the sharpest butcher knife I own, said a prayer, and quickly severed its head with one chop. I didn't even really have time to stop and think about what to do. Something had to be done right then and there. I couldn't allow myself the luxury of thinking about it while the poor bird suffered.

I realize that people hunt dove. And quail. And all kinds of other creatures. I'm not one of those people and it has always pained me to see any living thing suffer. This will always be a major part of who I am as a person. My empathy for animals may be extreme to some or crazy to others, but to me it's just who I am. And it will never, ever change. It doesn't make me better than anyone else; it's just who I am. Rich or poor, single or married, young or old, happy or unhappy. This is, and always will be, the one constant in my life until I die. And probably after, if I have any control over it.

As I've gotten older, I've found that when I panic about anything animal related, I'm able to maintain my sense of calm concentration and rely on my instincts to do what's necessary. However unpleasant that task may be. I could see by the vertebrae poking out from this beautiful yet doomed bird's neck that this bird would not recover from its injuries. From my wildlife rescue work I knew that this bird's life couldn't be saved.

I guess this is what they call the cycle of life. No, it's not lions in Africa killing a gazelle to survive. But a life is a life, and tonight that cycle of life continued to turn in its rotation. It brings me some comfort to think about springtime. When spring returns to Austin, the cycle of life will present itself once again and I'll hear the chirping of new baby birds in their nests in the trees in my back yard. Now, if I can just keep the cats away from the nests ...

And so it goes ...

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