Nurturing Gene Is Not Just In Humans


Food for Thought by Leigh Currey Merrifield, Editor

I had a request some time ago to reprint a story that was included in one of my “Food for Thought” columns many years ago.

Because it had been so long ago, I couldn’t put my fingers on it at the time; however, my recent “moving experience” still has me going through old things and I managed to find it.  I’m glad that someone else liked this as much as I did!  Here you go ……….

In a nearby field lived two horses.  From a distance each horse looked like any other horse.  But if you got a closer look, you could notice something quite interesting.  One of the horses was blind!

The owner had chosen not to have him put down, but had made him a safe and comfortable barn to live in.  It was amazing how well the horse managed, but if you stood nearby and listened, you could hear the sound of a bell that came from a smaller horse in the same field.

Attached to the smaller horse’s halter was a copper-colored bell that allowed his blind friend to know where he was and be able to follow.  If you watched these two horses for a while, you could see that the horse with the bell was always checking on the blind horse … and that the blind horse would listen for the bell and then slowly walk to where the other horse was, trusting that he would not be led astray.

When the horse with the bell returned to the shelter of the barn each evening, he would stop occasionally, looking back to make sure that his blind friend wasn’t too far behind to hear his bell.

Like the owner of these two horses, God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect or because we have problems or challenges.  He watches over us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need. Sometimes we are the blind horse, being guided by the little ringing bell of those who have been placed in our lives; and at other times we are the guide horse, helping others to find their way.  …………..

To me, this piece was not only touching, it also made me aware that we humans are not the only species that nurtures and looks out for one another.  Perhaps we have a lot to learn about animals.  They, too, are capable of many of the same feelings and behaviors that we have.  Just because they are unable to speak to us does not mean they are not knowledgeable about bonding and loving and compassion.

I believe I wrote once about my son telling me that he had been very sick with the flu.  His dog never left his side for three days!  And another time when my granddaughter had had some minor surgery, the dog seemed to sense that something was not quite right and again stayed by her side until she was able to play with him again.

Unlike we humans, animals have tails and fur … and unlike us, they may only be able to wag and bark, but they’re smart.  They sense when things aren’t quite right and they exhibit compassion.  They may be different from us, but they are just as much a part of the ‘family’ as we humans are.

Springtime is here and once again I’ve been able to watch the birds.  Yes, they’re back to pooping on my porch and patio, and I believe they are a little upset that their favorite big pine tree is no longer in my back yard.  They seem a little lost!  But they’ve made other arrangements now that nesting time has arrived.

I believe I mentioned last week that a Frontier technician had made numerous calls to my house during “the move” … and those visits continued this past week as well.  (Hopefully, that is all straightened out now!)  On one of the tech’s last visits, he informed me that he thought he had scared my birds to death when he rang my doorbell.  “What birds?” I asked.  He said, “The ones that have made a nest beside your front door!”

Unbeknownst to me, a little family of house finches has returned and set up housekeeping beside my front door in a wreath.  Usually it’s in my ferns on the back patio!  The babies have hatched, and now instead of keeping watch from the top of my pine tree in the back yard, daddy keeps watch sitting on top of the lantern beside the door on the front porch.  They are probably upset with me because I am a little later than usual hanging my ferns outside on the patio!  But it looks like they’ve managed to find another safe spot.

Birds, too, are quite intelligent and also nurturing of their young.  Because their offspring are so defenseless at first, they know to conceal their nests with great care.  (Even I didn’t notice it!)   Momma bird wove a tight nest to protect them.  I understand their need to protect their young although I don’t much care for their choice of locations!  Looks like I’ll be cleaning bird poop off my front porch this year!

This week’s dessert:  “Those who describe animals as not having any thoughts or feelings come closer to that description than the animals they are trying to describe.”  ~ Edward Alberola

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