I recently read an article (I think it was in the New York Times) about how where you live determines how you view certain animals – as pets, or as food. It was interesting – nothing new, certainly, to someone who has any knowledge of the world, but interesting nonetheless. And it made me think…
While I was reading this article, I thought of a blog post I had seen before I came to Ukraine, which was written by a person who was in training to be a PCV here. I remember finding it amusing that she had been naming the rabbits, until one day she noticed that one of them was missing. She asked where it was, and was told it had been dinner the previous evening.
What I found even more amusing was that after I arrived and was assigned to my training village, I found out that she lived with the same family as one of my “cluster mates.” So when the rabbit had little rabbits again, I dubbed them “Breakfast”, “Lunch”, and “Dinner.”
Animals seem to be a common themes in blogs of PCVs – I have noticed that many of write about animals, and some adopt pets during their service. Is it a connection to home, or to something familiar, that we seek in writing about animals, or interacting with them? Or is it because, in some cases, it is so different?
As to why PCVs adopt pets here, I completely understand why, especially when I saw the black kitten last night.
A little bit of background – from September 2000-January 2010, I had two wonderful cats. One was black, and one was tabby-ish – I don’t know specific breeds, and I did not care. Both were beautiful. They were loving, affectionate, and in many ways like dogs in their behavior. Whichever room of the house I was in, that is the house they were in. They slept with me (and under the covers with me when it was cold), they laid on me when I watched TV or did anything where I was sitting or laying down. They came to to the door to greet me after I had been away for the day, or even for a few hours. They were my closest friends, who were always there when I was in a bad mood, when I was crying, when I was happy. They were my “kids.” When I divorced, there was no question who would get the cats – they were mine (though we had gotten them together).
I had to give my cats away in January of this year, when I sold my house. My parents are allergic to cats, and my sister already has three cats (and three children, something my cats were not used to). Luckily, a kind man who missed his cats (that he had “lost” in his divorce) adopted them. So I knew they were going to a good home, rather than a shelter. Still, it broke my heart to turn them over to him, and I shed many tears over it.
I resolved to not fall into the trap of adopting an animal here, when I have no certain idea of where I will be after my service, much less what I will be doing. I do not want to adopt an animal and then abandon it to an uncertain future in Ukraine, nor subject it to a traumatic move and an uncertain future who knows where. But still, I understand why people do. Perhaps it is lucky for me that I live in a dorm, as because of this I cannot adopt an animal here. Because it has been tempting.
For example, last night, while I was walking down the street, a black kitten darted in front of me. I immediately stopped and picked it up. I cradled the kitten, held it aloft, and fawned over it. Then I had to put it back down. I did, and then had to force myself to walk away from it.
I have to do that a lot here – pass by animals, a lot of animals. A lot of dogs and cats are either homeless or allowed to wander a great deal here, and it is so hard to see. Animals are viewed, and for the most part, treated, differently here than they are in the U.S. Even the animals that are viewed as pets are often allowed to roam freely during the day (or in the case of where I lived during training, put out every night). However, this is not to say that it is “better” in the U.S. – after all, pet psychics? Dressing pets up in costumes, treating them as accessories – is this really “better” for animals than allowing them to follow their natures?
But I digress. Or do I? What is the point of this post, anyway?
I guess the point is that I have been thinking a lot about animals and pets lately, by seeing articles, seeing strays, hearing from other people about their adopting pets. The black kitty reminded me of my cats, and how much I miss that connection and companionship with other living beings. Being a single person and not of the most outgoing nature, I do not always have a great deal of interaction with other people outside of work. I am trying to change that, but, well, it’s tough (and more complicated than I want to go into in this post). My cats were my companions for nine years – a long time. I miss them. I still cry when I talk about them.
I miss them.