A year ago today, I stood inside Social Tees animal shelter in the East Village and for the first time held this shivering, tiny, puppy in need of a home. She was my baby the moment they placed her in my arms and I had to see to it that she was never cold or scared ever again. And, it's been that way ever since.
People love their pets. People have separated pets from even really being "animals" anymore. We humanize them- giving them traits like you would a little kid growing into their personality. I do it too. I mean, Julep is a princess in every way, preferring to sit in my lap while I eat dinner and sleep under the covers with me....and I let her! It's crazy! But then again, it's not. I'm definitely not the first to let their dog snuggle all night but then again, why have a dog if not to snuggle all night. Dogs take on the the real-life role of your first stuffed animal you would pretend was alive. You tell them everything. You talk to them. You even come home and ask them how their day was, as if they could respond. And as if they'd have any more to report other than they spent it waiting on you to get home (or in some cases, ate your couch). You take them to the doctor when they have a belly ache. You even let them sleep horizontally across the bed at night, with you hanging off the edge, because they are just too darn precious to disturb.
And wow, can we talk about their capacity to love, again, another way we humanize them. But there is something special about the sheer excitement and joy they express when you come home. I've never experienced that before from any humans, especially not every time I open the door. Animals sure know how to make you feel loved. And it's the least I can do in return to make this little Julep feel loved back.
Adam and I ask each other all the time, "Do you think she knows how much we love her?" I'd like to think so. I sure hope so. Over the last year, she's become our most favorite topic to discuss. Sometimes, we go out to dinner and spend the entire time talking about how cute she is and how funny she was earlier that day. I'd like to think it's brought Adam and I even closer, giving us a common responsibility, and one we love taking care of together.
On behalf of Julep, I hope one day, we can live in a world where we see the capacity for love and emotion in all creatures...not just the ones we deem pets. It's contradictory and very heart breaking to know that 9.1 billion animals, just like Julep, live horrendous lives full of fear and stress. It's very easy to look at meat as just meat, but I hope, more and more, we can see meat for what it really is, or was...a living, feeling, being, just like our dogs. There are so many ways to get involved, and even start small, into helping change the industry so less and less animals are suffering. During my time here in LA, I'm volunteering with Mercy For Animals, one of the few organizations dedicated to raising awareness around factory farming conditions, environmental impact, and animal equality. Their website is full of small ways to make a big impact.
So, today, I celebrate Julep and all the animals out there that just need some love...like Julep did a year ago. I'm glad she made it into my arms. After all, it's the animals who have it figured out...not us:
“A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not......I realized it was all right there in front of us, if only we opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with bad breath, worse manners, and pure intentions to help us see.” - John Gorgan, "Marley & Me".