Quick: Think of an animal whom you’ve met in your life, who inched her or his way into your heart.
Perhaps it was your childhood kitty companion, who slept on your pillow, right beside your head, all throughout those awkward middle school years. Or maybe it was a pigeon you rescued — the one who opened your eyes and heart to how glorious these birds are. Or it could have been a goat you met at a farmed animal sanctuary, who wanted nothing more than to head-butt you incessantly, which he clearly found hilarious.
We all have these stories — whether it’s regarding an animal who was (or is) part of our family, or one we read about, or saw in a film or a news story. If you’re alive, then you have, at some point, been influenced by an animal. Maybe it was even that very animal who led you down this path of activism, giving you the push you needed to devote your life to changing the world for our feathered and four-footed friends.
For me, there have been several animals who have become part of my heartbeat, but perhaps the most influential was my childhood cat, Rocky, pictured on the left. That photo was taken only minutes after my brother and I opened a box that my mother had carefully set in the middle of the living room floor, out of which popped this thoroughly wondrous cat! He was a friendly neighborhood stray, and our neighbors had taken him in, only to find that their kids were allergic to him. How lucky was I that Rocky found his circuitous way to our home, and my heart. Rocky was my constant companion from the time I was 11 until I was 24. Growing up in a home with a lot of love — but an equal amount of inconsistency, confusion, and my share of sadness — what a treasure it was to always come home to Rocky’s loud purr-squawk as he ran down the stairs to greet me. During the weekends I spent at my father’s house, I would miss my cat, and wait with bated breath until the moment I stepped back into my house, so that Rocky could, once again, be by my side. He was strong, loyal, and protective. When I think of unconditional love, I think of Rocky.
And what about you? Valentine’s Day is, to me, a perfect opportunity to fondly remember the animals who have touched our lives. And so, for our Valentine’s Day podcast episode, which will air on Saturday, February 11, we need your help.
In the comments section below, share with us your story of one animal who has touched you. Why was that animal important to you? How did she or he shape your view of the world? Be as specific as you can, and make sure to convey to us why that animal holds a special place in your heart.
For our Valentine’s Day episode, we will read some of your stories on the air. We also might invite some of you to be guests on our podcast and tell the story yourselves. And anyone who leaves a comment will be entered to win an Our Hen House tote bag. A randomly-selected winner will be announced on the Valentine’s Day podcast episode. In order to be in the running for both the tote bag, and the chance for your story to be featured on our podcast episode, you must leave a comment by midnight, EST, on Sunday, February 5.