I think animals mourn. In fact, I would bet on it. I’m not sure how many studies have been done on this topic. I’ve read some articles, sporadically over the years, of people who have researched this subject.
But I’ve seen it. Years ago, my Mom had a double knee replacement. I drove over to Dayton everyday to help her with her physical therapy at her care facility. It was on one of these drives when I first noticed. I approached a scene in the road. Sometime earlier, a squirrel had been hit by a car and was laying right on the double yellows. By her side was another squirrel. The companion had its little paws on the injured one’s chest. Then it would skittish around a second or two, and go back to its vigilant watch by his friend’s side.
I was sobbing so hard I had to pull over. I couldn’t drive again until I got a grip.
Throughout the years I’ve witnessed other scenes like this one. The other day, a mourning dove crashed into the bank of windows that covers the west side of our house. She hit hard, and dropped a full story below, landing in a soft green plant of some sort. Within seconds, another mourning dove was by her side. She sat with her until the injured dove recovered from the knock out.
Then there are those good Crows. Crows have funerals. I know this to be true. I’ve read the reports. When one of them dies, the rest of the flock, the “murder” gather around and try to figure out how it happened. They make a noisy ruckus. The more noise, the more crows that attend, and they watch and try to learn what killed their cohort.
A scientist, did a study of this in Seattle. She went to the same park every day for a few weeks and fed them peanuts. They got to know the routine, and showed up on queue. Peanut Pals. Then, one day, she put on a mask and a wig, and brought a dead, taxidermy-crow. She laid it on the ground and the crows began the squawking, and wailing. Loudly. They watched from the trees, and shrieked. They didn’t go near her. They stayed in the trees. Watching. Cawing.
Then, next day. Same scientist. No mask, no wig, but she was packing peanuts. They came around and ate. Again and again.
A few days later? She put on the wig and mask and just showed up. The crows shrieked, cried out, cawed and cackled. A couple swooped at her. With the wig and the mask she was the crow killer.
Smart birds. Smart animals. Mourning, thinking, feeling animals.
I’ve been in the company of dogs and cats long enough to know that they are emotional beings. They are not just mindless creatures put here for human’s demands.
This becomes a tricky thing for me though. The tight wire. The hypocritical slippery slope. As I’ve mentioned, I believe animals are thinking, feeling, emotional beings. All of them. But. On occasion, I eat meat. It seems somehow wrong to me, but I’ve never been able to give it up.
But here is the next big question. Do those animals have souls? Well, we ask this from a human standpoint. We ask this question, based on what WE think that means. The ability to tell right from wrong? Good versus evil? But animals seem to have transcended this. They live their lives wholly, making choices that are in line with the very nature of their being. They follow the rules of the Mother Earth they were born into. UNLESS, of course, they have been trained by humans to do otherwise.
I don’t know the big answers. But I do know animals have emotions and feelings. And this is one thing, we should never forget. I am so glad to know them. Time and again, they have made my life better.
“Pity those who don’t feel anything at all.”
― Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses
“One ought to hold on to one’s heart; for if one lets it go, one soon loses control of the head too.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
“Some things are too big to be seen; some emotions are too huge to be felt.”
― Neil Gaiman, Fables & Reflections