Pets Make It All Worthwhile

love, musings

My in-laws had to say goodbye to their old cat this week. She had fought a long, hard, fight, and battles that almost took her many times. She was a tough old girl, a sweet old girl, a cat that everyone loved.

Regardless of seeing the end years before, and losing many other beloved pets, there is always pain. A sharp and intense longing in the heart. Tears that sting at the eyes, even if you know “it was only a cat”. Because, as all animal lovers know, it’s never “only a” anything. They’re family, they are loved, they make our lives worthwhile.

The cruelty is that we love these creatures so much, almost like children, and they leave us well before we want them to. Halfway through a normal life, a quarter, a few years, they depart us and leave behind corners full of fur and claw marks on a couch.

While they poop inconveniently and behave rudely we still love these fluffs that we adopt. We love their snuggles and kisses, their talks and stumbles. We appreciate knowing that no matter what the world thinks of us, that cat or dog or rat or goat will be so happy to see us.

In ways pets reflect our love of humanity. Animals remind us not to take things so seriously. Animals reflect our desire to be more innocent and to explore without restrictions. They show us the animal nature we all have, and remind us that it’s okay to roll in the dirt and sleep outside. They encourage us to be honest with our existence and to love unconditionally. Yet, they hold magic in them that is not found with other people.

When they die we are also reminded of our fragility on earth, of being mortal. We hope that our passing will also be peaceful, with loved ones, asleep and then gone, if we’re lucky.

Yet even with our tears we are shown light in the hope of our own existence. In tears we find the strength to love again and again, because we know that the love learned from one pet, is too much to stop there.

They make it all worthwhile.

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Adventure of the Week – Omaha Zoo

adventure of the week, Nebraska, Travel, United States

On my recent adventure to the midwest I had a fun blend of road trip and train journey across 1000 miles, each way, of prairie…..and….prairie. Some may argue it’s plains, but either way you cut it, it ends up being a whole lot of grass, corn, straight rows, and small towns. Not to mention a few cow poop smelling sections near feed lots.

All I have to say is thank you engineers and scientists for cruise control and thank you oh wise zoologists of the last 100 years for placing a zoo in the middle of it.

Located in Omaha, Nebraska the Henry Doorly Zoo is by far one of the best zoos in the country, and absolutely one of the best in the world. Due to their investments, resources, creativity and dedication they have created a zoo that creates lasting memories for visitors that is unparalleled to other zoos.

For instance, I remember stopping at said zoo in about 2003 and being completely blown away at it, even if I was a snotty teen.

The zoo has changed little in the last 15 years, but it still remains an innovative and moving network of habitats that brings out the mystified kid in all of us.

My favorite, this journey happened to be the charming penguins who literally came up to the glass to nod heads with my fellow travelers, an 11 and 4 year old, who felt they both had nice chats with the friendly penguins.

Other highlights included the indoor rainforest with plenty of bats, otters, frogs, and pygmy hippos. The gorilla habitat offered plenty of entertainment with the massive creatures storming by visitors.  Finally, the cat house offered oohhhs and ahhhs at majestic clawed beasts lounging in the afternoon shade.

 

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Wild Animal Sanctuary-Adventure of the week

adventure of the week, colorado, Colorado Events, Environment, Travel

Maybe you are seeing a theme, why yes I do love animals!

This particular week involves Lions and Tigers and Bears…. oh my!

 

And wolves and lynx and bobcat and…. you get the idea.

 

Last weekend I took my Girl Scout troop to the Wild Animal sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado.

Keenesburg is about an hour south of Fort Collins, and around 40 minutes North of Denver. Yet it’s a world away from the traffic, noise, and hustle and bustle that is living in town.

 

Keenesburg is really just a small prairie village that happens to have one of Colorado’s best kept secrets. The only reason it got its claim to fame is due to it being so rural and having extra land for sale and to spare.

Enter the wild animal sanctuary. The sanctuary started as a private project of love by Pat Craig who began rescuing animals that were up for euthanasia or that were being mistreated. Rescues came from around the country from zoos, owners that misjudged their ability to own a predator, and circuses. Before they knew it, they had a lot more critters and needed more resources.

When I was a kid no one could visit without getting special permission. Now the sanctuary welcomes around 200,000 visitors a year! Guests not only visit the animals, they also learn about the rehabilitation process for these often abused and neglected creatures.

The sanctuary specializes in carnivores and larger predators as they are often the hardest to care for. What makes their experience unique is solely the amount of space the animals have to live, yell, have friends, play, eat, and be happy in their captive lives.

In addition to giving the cats their space and a life of comfort, the sanctuary boasts the longest raised walkway in the world. Almost like a boardwalk, a raised platform goes on for over a mile giving guests the chance to view the animals without infringing on their daily lives.

As presented at the sanctuary, the critters don’t feel threatened when people are above them in such a matter. This also improves the visibility for visitors as it gives guests an intimate view without driving animals to discomfort or hiding.

Perhaps my personal favorite aspect was getting to hear the animals call and run like they would naturally. The lions growled and talked to each other. The wolves howled. The bobcats rolled in the grass. Every animal seemed contented and happy, even if his or her lives had not always been that way.

What was sad about the sanctuary is that it has to exist. It’s that more tigers are captive in Texas than in the wild. And that humans are the culprit. While I think baby tigers are adorable there is considerable ignorance. To think baby Baloo won’t turn into a giant bear in a few years. Animals also belong to their instincts. Look at even a house cat, less domesticated than dogs they can terrorize their homes and they’re between 8-20lbs imagine one at 300! Point being, animals deserve not to be mistreated over the selfish whims of people.

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Some of the animals had visible scars, yes scars, from their years of mistreatment while other showed signs of neglect. One obese tiger that as going through rehabilitation had been over fed and under exercised that it was shocking to see them in extra weight. I had never thought an obese tiger was a reality, but lo and behold.

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WAS3WAS1500Yet, trying to move past the sad, is the hope; that with patience, love, education, and action we can end these tragedies. The Wild Animal Sanctuary is changing minds and the world and I hope, if in the neighborhood, you will take the time to be humbled by animals being their natural, wonderful selves.

Happy Travels!

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