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I'm a children's author. Animals are a constant source of writing material for me. They are also my heart!

The Right Thing to Do

>> Sunday, January 24, 2010

It isn't always easy to do the right thing, especially if you're me, but this week I ran across two examples that I just had to share with you.

One day last week, while driving to my barn, I spotted a horrifically smashed black cat on the side of the country road. I glanced at the cat and then stared straight ahead. I sure hope that's not our barn cat, I thought to myself.

I got to the barn, tacked up Tango, and had a very nice ride. When I was done riding and Tango was in cross ties, Craig (one of the boarders) came in. Have you seen our black cat today? he asked Jeremiah (a terrific barn worker).

Jeremiah answered that he had indeed seen the cat just moments earlier. I breathed a sigh of relief. Then Craig said, Well when you get done here, let's go bury that cat on the road.

That's really nice of you, I told Craig.
Craig's response was simple. If it was my cat I would hope someone would bury it, he said.

I was humbled. It had never occurred to me to do such a thing and it should have.

And then yesterday, I ran into my neighbor Kelly. She was out walking her beautiful dog. We had rather traumatic morning, she said. I was about to let the dog out back when I noticed a squirrel lying on it's back but still alive. Mary Beth and I think it fell out of the tree.

What'd you do? I asked.

Kelly paused. It was so hard, she said, but it was clearly paralysed and suffering. I got a shovel and hit it in the head. I sobbed and sobbed while I did it, she said.

Now the normal me would have been freaked out about killing a squirrel with a shovel. But somehow this act was no different than Craig burying a cat he didn't know. Kelly's act was an act of kindness.

I guess loving kindness doesn't always mean just rescuing, finding homes, or even enjoying our own dear animals. Sometimes it means doing something very difficult that no one else wants to do.

I hope the next time that I encounter a situation like Craig or Kelly I am able to push my horror away and take action. Somehow I doubt it, but at least their examples will remind me of the right thing to do.


~Kim at Golden Pines~ January 24, 2010 at 2:21 PM  

It's so very hard to know what to do, and you are not alone. This past fall, I was coming down my road and someone hit a baby raccoon in front of me and didn't even stop--It was still alive. I drove around it, but then I just had go back and see if there was something I could do--By the time I got back, there was another baby raccoon there next to it--Needless to say, it made it worse as the one on the road was obviously suffering. Having no idea what to do, I was just going to pick it up and take it home...But then a gentlemen stopped (the other baby ran off) and he told me he "would take care of it" and got something out of his car...I was bawling, and thanked him over and over again, and came home, and said a prayer of thanks for the man, and hoped that the both baby raccoons found their way...

Mayra Calvani January 24, 2010 at 2:35 PM  

Hay, Jan,

I'm glad I discovered your lovely blog! Thanks for visiting Pets & Their Authors earlier today.

CATachresis January 24, 2010 at 4:20 PM  

I think I would have reacted like you Jan - intitially horrified and wanting to get away as quickly as possible, and then overtaken by a mixture of guilt and compassion. hard one!

Liz Flowers January 24, 2010 at 5:00 PM  

Hi Jan,

Thanks for stopping by my blog, I too am an animal lover! I look forward to reading yours!

Tweedles -- that's me January 24, 2010 at 5:12 PM  

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that when we,,,,,,,
do what we need to do,,,,,
and its all over and done
that we did the right thing
or it may come back
to haunt us forever,
and we need to remember
your words
it was the right thing to do.
Sometimes it is a constant battle
and its not easy.

LINDA FAULKNER January 24, 2010 at 5:54 PM  

Thanks for leaving your comment at Mayra's blog, where my dog Delaney was interviewed today by the charming and gorgeous Amigo. I'm so glad I found your blog.

Many years ago, I was working at my home office and I heard an animal crying outside the window. I couldn't see anything when I looked out the window, but I knew someone was there. Sure enough, when I investigated I found a little puppy - what appeared to be a German Shepherd mix. And his tail was bleeding like crazy--what there was left of it.

A man parked his car and joined me. He'd seen the bleeding puppy but thought someone had run over him with a car. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that someone had hacked off the puppy's tail. I ran into the house and got a big, strong elastic band. As I held the puppy, the man secured the band tightly around the puppy's tail stub. He left (he was on his way home from work and had kids waiting) and I called the animal control officer.

Seems that someone had, indeed, badly botched a job of docking the poor puppy's tail. We never found out who did it, or why. But one of the captains on the local police force adopted the puppy and said she was the best thing that ever happened to him--especially after he fell from a ladder and wound up flat on his back for several months: she was his constant companion.

Thank God that man stopped. I had the brilliant idea to use the elastic band but I honestly don't know if I could have done what he did.

Thanks, Jan, for letting us share our stories. Feel free to visit my blog, Forever Friends - about rescued animals - and I love to post other animals' stories. It's at

Unknown January 24, 2010 at 6:30 PM  

Though choice. But why should any poor animal have to suffer. My Billy will never suffer for very long. I am glad we can mke that kind of a choice for our animals.

Miss Janet January 24, 2010 at 8:43 PM  

Oh, that poor girl who had to hit the squirel! :(

You know, animals aren't people BUT they still are God's creations. He put us here and one of our jobs is to take care of them.

Blessings to you and the efforts you make!



TC January 24, 2010 at 9:28 PM  

I've had to do things like hit the squirrel. We had a farm remember, pigs don't die easy. It's a VERY unpleasant job, burying the cat I probably wouldn't have thought of but it's a nice thing to do.
The comment about the puppy was a great story.

John Paul January 25, 2010 at 2:14 AM  

helo ma'am!!! I have a question about my dog!! He has a scabies what should be the treatment i do!! Im also a animal LoveR!!! If u have time you could also visit my blog!!
nice blog :)

Sharon Wagner January 25, 2010 at 12:07 PM  

I actually have to turn the channel when animals are hurt or attacking each other on T.V. I know it's just a fact of life. But it's hard to watch.

Gail Wilson January 25, 2010 at 2:27 PM  

Jan, I, too have gone through the same type of experience as your friend and also your Stable friends. Yes, it is so very difficult to do but it is even more difficult for me to see how much suffering the our creature friends are going through. We must thnk of it as another type of 'rescue' and know that they will be in a far better place. Gail

Susan B January 25, 2010 at 8:05 PM  

What a difficult thing for your friend to do with the squirrel. I know it was a necessary thing to do so it wouldn't suffer. It's hard when you find yourself in both situations, they both did the right thing.

Sammy January 25, 2010 at 8:35 PM  

Wow. How sad and beautifully amazing at the same time. Doing the right thing is usually hard to do, but it always pays off. (My human feels bad about the squirrel, but I myself wouldn't have let all that food go to waste)

SANDY January 26, 2010 at 9:47 AM  

I so relate to your stories Jan. This past summer a squirrel was in a bad way due to almost being eaten by a neighbors dog. When she screamed, the dog dropped the squirrel; but the damage was already done. She didn't know what to do. I asked hubby to help her (in part so their 2 year old wouldn't see this, as he was swinging on the swing).

So, I got a shovel to deal with the squirrel while the two of them got the little one off the swing and into our yard where he wouldn't see the episode. I did, as your friend Kelly did. I hit the squirrel in the head to put it out of it's misery. Took the squirrel out of reach of both the child and the dog in what I believe was it's nest area...or perhaps where he/she had been hanging out. Well outside the fenced area of the yard for safety.

I wonder if they ever found out who's cat that was besides the road?

Honeygo Beasley January 26, 2010 at 7:06 PM  

Powerful post.

Sandra January 26, 2010 at 9:22 PM  

I've lived on a farm for two decades. I have learned to do many things I never thought I could do. Hitting the squirrel with the shovel was the king thing to do. I have a lot of respect for your neighbor. Craig is a kind man. You are lucky to have people like this in your life.

Sandra January 26, 2010 at 9:23 PM  

kind, not king.

Kasha January 26, 2010 at 11:11 PM  

What a really terrific post. It makes me think of how many poor creatures I have left on the side of the road. This will change my thoughtlessness in the future. Thanks Jan!

Lillian Robinson February 1, 2010 at 6:58 PM  

Sometimes loving animals means doing just that. I have had to put animals down. It's really hard, but it's the right thing to do.

There was an article in a recent horse magazine about where to shoot a horse in an emergency. I was reading the comments. Most agreed, though terrible to think about, the time could come where it is necessary.

Sometimes when I see these 'rescue' stories on TV, I wonder why they made the animal suffer so much, just to finish out life scarred and unwanted...

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