I am an animal lover. I like animals, particularly cats, more than I like many people. (I like dogs, as well as other kinds of animals, but I have a special affinity for felines of all breeds, including big cats, such as jaguars.) In my encounters in life, I have discovered there are lots of people who dislike animals. Some of Magnus’ employees have been afraid of animals, especially dogs, and others have told me they “just don’t like animals,” something I don’t understand, regardless of who says it. I have encountered many other people in my life, including some relatives of David’s and mine, who have an overt and obvious dislike of animals. I am extremely wary around these people, due to my belief that people who are unkind to animals possess other traits in conflict with mine. On the other hand, there are some people, including my two very dear sisters-in-law (whom I have known my entire life, and who are truly my sisters, in addition to being my brothers’ wives!) who share my love of animals. Both of my sisters-in-law always have a dog, and sometimes a cat, and both of them treat their animal friends like the family members they are. We animal lovers cannot grasp why some people say, “Why do you need another cat when you travel so much?” and other short sighted things because, to us, life without a furry friend or two (or more) is a dull life indeed. My company now has an office dog; having his presence in the office has greatly changed my demeanor, making me much happier on the days he is “working” than when he stays home. Kindness to animals is a personality trait that provides me, as a psychologist, with a window into other people’s lives. As a general rule, I prefer to be around people who like animals, and who bestow kindness upon them, than people who dislike the creatures with whom we share our world.
I have known people, including one of my grandmothers, who were deathly afraid of animals due to a bad experience in childhood. But, thankfully, I have been around many more people who loved animals and saw them, whether dogs or cats, as their best friends. I grew up with lots of dogs and cats around, more than I could manage today. But the joy they bring is rewarding as long as they are well trained, behaved, and cared for by their humans. As a psychologist, Melissa could go into significant detail about those who truly do not like animals, for reasons other than a credible fear, and especially those that harm animals. We are fortunate to share our lives with a loving cat, one of a succession of them. It is hard to consider coming home to a house without that living creature to greet us, when he can bother to wake up anyway. Demonstrating kindness for something other than oneself can say much more than one might realize.