Imagine a world without animals, be it without pets, livestock, or wildlife. How would we comparatively dull humans entertain ourselves?
I like going to sleep knowing that my pets are safe, warm, and cozy in their barn stalls and that they will be well-rested the next day to make me laugh and to cuddle alongside me. Likewise, I know that while I sleep, the raccoons are just awakening and stepping outside their holes for a night of play, hunting, and general ruckus. I think about the fact that while we sleep, on the other side of the world in Africa and India, rare wild beasts--ones I'll never see in my lifetime--are emerging from their dens, nests, and coral holes from where they will announce the morning and begin their day hunting food and guarding their young.
Without animals, we would all wake up, not to the singing and chirping of the birds, but to tree branches quaking, squeaking eerily in the wind. And the movement of the trees would be the only activity catching our attention. I can't imagine waking up without seeing the squirrels chasing each other, leaping from one branch to another. Mornings would resemble death where nothing but silence reigned?
I often imagine the wild places on Earth, devoid of human control--merely under the auspices and dominance of animals--in places so remote that hardly a human intrudes on the natural setting. Without humans shaping all to serve their needs, the wild and the animals within such a world must prosper, without fear of slaughter or the hunt. Though the prey-predator relationship exists, a world without human interlopers is ideal; it it natural.
This Christmas I am grateful to know that animals are a part of my world--whether or not that world is unseen by me or other people. Of course, my own pets have made me who I am--have formed my honest personality. My horses carry me, mostly willingly, for rides around the farm and to a few parks, and I appreciate that, too. My pigs I love because they are determined to do things they feel are important, regardless of my needs. Pigs can divorce themselves from the human condition, and for that I admire them.
This Christmas we should all be thankful for our pets who love us unconditionally and for the wildlife that entertain in much more subtle ways. Life is good because of our pets and the life flitting, scampering, and calling beyond our windows. They are our most valuable gifts this Christmas season.