Friday, January 30, 2015

Why Pets Make Life More Meaningful

By Dell H Grecia
Women's Journal
A Tribute to the late Dell H Grecia, veteran journalist 

In our daily lives, no one is spared from feelings of isolation, especially when in pursuit of our goals and dreams. But like legions of animal lovers, my friend Abe finds comfort in his pets: “It doesn't get too lonely when you have a loyal pet by your side.”
Carabao, the country's beast of burden and most important pet on the farm.

If you like animals and have the time and capacity to take care of one, then try having a pet. This was what I learned from my friend, Dr. Abe V. Rotor, a professor at the University of Santo Tomas graduate school and St. Paul University Quezon City. “Having pets is therapeutic,” he avers. They are there for you when everyone else is gone.

            In our daily lives, no one is spared from feelings of isolation, especially when in pursuit of goals and dreams. The more aggressive we are in pursuing our vision, the more chances we have that we’d encounter disappointment and frustration along the way. This is because not everyone shares your ideals.

            It takes more than intelligence to be aggressive; one has to be enterprising, a risk taker, adventurous, pioneering, and courageous enough to rich horizons ordinary people dare aspire for. It is also said that in our moments of glory, we strive for more. Yet, in our moments of defeat, we sink into the deepest recesses of our psyche, where hope - like sunlight in the deep - is dim.

            “You are alone at your lowest ebb,” reveals my friend Abe. “ But it doesn't get too lonely when you have a loyal pet by your side.” A pet dog, for instance, is not “man’s best friend” for nothing. Dogs are universally known to be capable of unconditional love, their loyalty and devotion to their masters unmatched by most human beings.

A. Pets Are Wonderful for your Well-Being

Caring for animals, however, is not a matter of merely acquiring one and having it around the house. Pets need nurturing, which goes beyond merely feeding and providing them shelter. In return, what we call “pet therapy” offers wonderful benefits to one’s health and well-being.

            Here, my friend Abe reveals the role of pets in our lives.

1.      Pets bring back happy memories. You have advantage over city-bred children if you grew up in the province. Caring for pets fills a gap - they give you a sense of connectedness to animals you knew and loved before. A dog brings sweet memories of the time when you were a farmhand. A pet goldfish reminds you of the fish you use to catch in the rice paddies during monsoon season. Goats on the range, chicken roosting on a tree branch, a kingfisher patiently waiting for its prey by the river, Labang, the bullock chewing its cud while at rest-these are childhood scenarios pets evoke.

2. Take a vacation in the province. While on vacation take the country road, go to a farm and leave all traces of urban life.

            “I remember riding on the back of a carabao when I was a kid,” Abe relates. “Back then, time knew no limit, its pace sweetly dragged under the clear blue sky, or under a myriad of stars one didn’t bother to count. You became observant and discovered many things like the aestivating grasshopper and frogs, drawing figures on the clouds.

            “Somewhere a pandangera or fantail bird sang its praise and joy, a dalag or mudfish stirred in a calm mountain pond, sending ripples that made the red Nymphaea and lanky reeds sway and dance while a dragonfly was disturbed in its slumber.”
3.      Pets in the Wild. Not all pets rest on your lap, respond to your call, or depend entirely
 on your care.

            At home in Lagro, Quezon, City, I maintain several large trees creating a four-layer mini-forest that surrounds our house,” my friend Abe continues. “With the adjoining watershed of the La Mesa reservoir, which is a block away, birds come around regularly. Their songs make the sweetest alarm clock; you wake up without the suddenness of the mechanical ringing of the clock. On a still day, their calls make cheerful music that has a melody of its own.
                                                             Leo Carlo and his kid pet

            “There are those birds that pick on the ripe petals of the Ilang-ilang with their beak, thus releasing its fragrance in the air. They then drop the flowers onto the ground in make- believe rites.

            “The great painter Lanseer created his masterpiece, ‘Monarch of the Glen,’ from spotting a moose in the wild that apparently posed before him. The animal humbled the painter who put down his rifle and took out a pen and a piece of paper and sketched the magnificent creature. He renounced hunting for the rest of his life.”

4.      Pets are priceless. According to Abe, no one sells his pet, much more if it were a
family or community pet. Sometimes this becomes a problem.

            “At home,” Abe continues, “we fatten hito or catfish in our garden pond. After a few months they are ready for harvesting. By that time my children call them their pets- our pets- so their goes any plan of using the brand-new barbecue stand we bought for the purpose of grilling our fattened hito.

            “Yes, it is a paradox in the case of the dogs is seen as a gustatory delight.

  “We cannot justify this predilection for dog meat as part of culture or tradition as the practice is not confined to our indigenous people. In our times there are those who are driven by economic necessity.

            “At one time hundreds of letters were received by Congress, endorsing the passage of bill to prohibit the killing of dogs, more so the catching and rearing of dogs for food. As most of these letters came from the US and Europe, we can only appreciate the importance of dogs in the heart of the people who have a deep regard for pets - and a reverence for life. The bill was never passed.”

5. From dolls and toys to pets. When dolls and toys are no longer scattered on the floor and stairways but are neatly kept in cabinets and glass cases, Abe explains, we know adolescence has arrived for our children. It is a time of transition from childhood to adulthood, from fantasy to reality, sweet nothings to serious matters. It is no longer Alice in Wonderland but Sweet Valley High.

            Pets provide the bridge to this new phase in life to millions of adolescents. This is why pet shops abound. There is at least one pet shop in every mall, two or more around a public market or “busy center” in Metro Manila as shown in the survey made by Abe’s students in Field Zoology at the UST Graduate School.

   Aquarium fish vendor prepares his merchandise for the day.   


           
 Many more are strategically located around schools and churches, not to mention ambulant pet peddlers you meet on Sundays at busy sidewalks. These pet shops sells aquarium fish- from guppies to the giant aruwana,; common birds like maya (rest brown and grey with pink beaks known as mayang costa), lovebirds and parakeets. Four-legged pets include guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits.~

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