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Animal care: A joy and a responsibility

co-dog-3-pug.jpgWhat do I, an “immigrant” from St. Louis, appreciate about Clarksville? As the song says, “Let me count the ways…”

On my list of top activities in this city are the Roxy Theatre, Loaves and Fishes, AARP, movie theaters, APSU and last but not least, the Clarksville Athletic Club. They ignite a passion for this community and give the momentum for purposeful living.

But beyond these organizations serving humans, I appreciate the compassion of this community, especially as shown in the care of our pets; we have a kinship and empathy for animals. By our measure of intelligence, they may come up short, but animals have their own wonderful endowments. They deserve our appreciation and respect.

In Missouri, our dogs and cats were more utilitarian than just pets. In the Ozarks our dogs were commonly chained in the back yard until it was squirrel or rabbit hunting season and our cats were assigned to the barn as mouse catchers. Thankfully, our improved understanding and broadened compassion now includes animals. Our perspective of these living beings is part of a changing pattern for community and society in general.

Presently this is a steadily growing natural feeling of fellowship with animals and most noticeably with our pets. Today as a community we hold disgust and anger toward animal cruelty.

Unfortunately though, some pet owners do remain unenlightened on this issue. In our neighborhood, I see pets without collars or vaccination tags, thereby making them more vulnerable to disease and illness. Our veterinarians gladly participate in keeping pets healthy. Cats given professional care can be immune to HIV, a deadline and painful disease for feline friends. Compassion includes providing medical care for our pets.

Compassion for our pets is shown by responding appropriately to their needs. Pets change physically as they age, just as human do. Our 15-year-old pug, Cassie, is showing her age. She used to have a passion for play, running and greeting people with vibrant energy. Now, even though I get down on the floor with her, her interest in playing is short-lived and limited to little more than a few minutes. Once a week she enjoys one run around the couch with me in pursuit. With age, she evidences a loss of energy, and her physical disabilities both victimize and restrict her. Arthritis is common in older dogs, just as it is in older family members, and they show symptoms of this illness.

Compassion is the taking of a sacred vow that the cruelty such as what happened to dogs in a Georgia puppy mill will never occur here. It is unfair and cruel to to allow such a practice to exist. Reporting animal abuse and neglect is our responsibility. It isn’t enough to get teary-eyed over this plight; we need to be spokesmen on behalf of beloved animals. We are their guardians.

Compassion for all animals domesticated and wild is a universal value. Through our passion, gifts and spoken support and advocacy we can relieve the suffering of animals. Vow, with one hand on the bible, never to abandon a pet. Vow to either give it a good home and provide food and shelter, or find a home for it — there are many options by which animals can be placed rather than euthanized.

Compassion is having a relationship with animals governed by the highest principles and our best interests. In Clarksville, we are making gains in animal welfare. Kudos to our leaders, who are supervising the construction of a new animal shelter.

For a comprehensive and emotional treatment of this subject, I recommend an article in Newsweek magazine (Nov. 19. 2007, page 66.)

We share our world with our pets; by taking them in, we accept a responsibility no less than for any other being, human or not.

Animal care is a noble and popular cause. Our challenge is to grow even more sensitive to the care of our pets and to be passionate in support of our community’s achievements in animal protection.

On this day, give your pet affection and reassurance verbally and non-verbally.

Rev. Charles Moreland
Rev. Charles Moreland
Rev. Charles Moreland, retired, has lived in Clarksville for seven years and holds great pride in his adopted city and its people. His one objection in Tennessee is the Hall law of taxes on dividends and savings. Charles served in the U.S. Army Chaplaincy from 1966-1986, retiring to serve as a United Methodist pastor near Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He serves on the Boards of Directors for the ARP, Roxy Theater and MCDP. Though retired, he is a regular speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. His five grandchildren, ages two to thirteen years, live in Evansville, Indiana. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War and served in Germany and Korea while on active duty.

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