“And here are the ashes from all our former dogs,” our hostess said, pointing to a glassed in case of shelving in the hallway filled with miniature urns.
I wondered to myself what in the world should someone say in such a situation?
“I’m so sorry,” or, “How sad,” or, what I almost said, “Are you kidding ?” Somehow I knew enough to tread lightly and was able to mumble a soft but brief commiserating sound of some sort.
Out on the patio introductions were made all round, to include the comment that we were the neighbors from across the street who were animal lovers, just like them.
“Just like them?”
It’s not that I’m an animal hater. But I would be the last person anyone, if they knew me, would call an “animal lover.”
If being an animal lover means loving the smell, the drooling, the poop in the back yard, the dander in the hallway, the hair on the furniture, the dead birds on the porch or the dead rats in the garage, then I am definitely not an animal lover. I have loved one particular animal who I lived with and who I had a relationship with, but in general, I haven’t given animals much thought per se.
While I don’t eat animals, I would never claim it is because I am an animal lover. I have other reasons for not eating them.
My neighbor however, was the opposite of me.
She loved animals. All animals. She just loved them. She said so. She couldn’t stand to see them suffer and would even stop her car on the freeway to save a poor animal from being lost or confused or otherwise smashed to smithereens by oncoming traffic. She “rescued” animals—any kind of animal that needed it and she didn’t use cosmetics that used animals for testing. Animals were her passion.
Yes. My neighbor was an animal lover.
Her husband, not so much.
At least that was my take on it. He was the one with the barbecue full of steak.
“Bill,” the hostess said, “here are our neighbors from across the street. They’re the ones who walk the Border Collie all the time”—at which point she asked, by the way where was Sasha?
Oh god, how I did not want to mention the fact that we had to put our Border Collie down. It made my husband sad to talk about her, he’d had her for over 10 years and they were definitely pals. Besides, we didn’t have an urn of ashes with Sasha’s remains anywhere to be found in our house, so I left it up to my husband to break the news, just as Bill called out to me from the BBQ.
“What are you drinking?”
“Tequila,” I said, handing him the bottle I had brought as he threw a couple more big pieces of raw animal flesh on the grill.
I looked at the steaks—huge t-bones—and had the random impulse to ask Bill if he kept all the ashes from all the dead animals he ate too?
But I didn’t.
I just don’t get it.
How can there be a world of animal lovers out there who don’t want domesticated animals or even laboratory animals maltreated, but who don’t mind eating animals themselves, every day, in every way shape and form.
Cuddling a puppy and calling yourself an animal lover but eating a cow for dinner seems weird to me, like there is some kind of disconnect.
If cows were domesticated animals, would it be the same thing? Would we love them and protect them and take them to the cow psychologist or the cow dermatologist or put their pictures on Facebook right up there next to the pictures of our own real live human children and then have barbecued dog for dinner?
What makes one animal eat-worthy and one not.
I mean, aren’t they all animals. If a person “loved animals” why would they eat one and not the other?
I had a friend once who was a psychologist. He had the lingo down.
“Because they’re asleep,” I could hear him saying. “But then, honey,” he would add plenty of times, “You’re asleep about a lot of things too,” and proceed to give me an example, which I didn’t like very much.
Probably if I pointed out to my hostess the dichotomy between calling herself an animal lover and eating animals who are slaughtered, so that her husband can put them on the grill for a Saturday afternoon BBQ, she wouldn’t like it very much either.
Nobody likes to be awakened.
I know I don’t.
It makes me uncomfortable. It makes me want to dive back under the covers.
It makes me want to go right back to sleep.
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock