Leaving the Planet to Our Pets?

This morning I saw a five minute segment about the polar ice cap crisis on the "Today" show. Holy Smokes! It seems the North Pole is shrinking because of greenhouse gas emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Ever wonder why Americans can’t come up with anything resembling an environmental policy?

Might this have something to do with TV?

As soon as the Today show finished their absolutely dire story about the death of the polar ice cap they jumped to a story about a new kind of Tupperware party that’s all the rage in suburbia.

As Kurt Vonnegut would have said: "And so on…"

Meanwhile it’s about 8 degrees in Iowa and there are snow drifts against the back of the house, a matter that delights our Labradors. Roscoe, our black Lab, who is 14 walks arthritically out into the fresh powder and puts his old face down in a snow bank and glories in a deeply personal icy joy.

One would think that Americans would want to save the environment just for the sake of their house pets.

I was thinking about this idea yesterday when Connie and I were listening to a campaign speech by John Edwards. (Connie by the way got to shake Senator Edwards’ hand. I am told that his hand was attached to the rest of him.)

Sen. Edwards was arguing that we ought to clean up the environment and fix the economy for the sake of our children.

I was packed in the back of a huge crowd at the Holiday Inn in Coralville, Iowa, and I was conceiving of the possibility that Americans love dogs and cats more than they care about children. (Several socially befuddled people came up to pet my guide dog. These are the sorts of people who otherwise show no signs of social connection. So I rest my case.)

Accordingly I wonder if the candidates who really care about global warming might be wise to adopt a new strategy and urge everyone to save the planet for "Fluffy" and "Rin Tin Tin".

As my friend Lorraine would say: "I’m just sayin’".

While Connie got to shake John Edwards’ hand, I got to shake James Lowe’s hand. James Lowe is a man who was born with a cleft palate and owing to the fact that he had no medical insurance he lived with this condition for fifty years. During those five decades he was literally unable to speak.

Now he’s campaigning for John Edwards.

Mr. Lowe’s voice is like words emitted by a Victrola: he sounds both sweet and a little dark. His voice comes from a long way to reach our ears. He has a lovely mountain accent from West Virginia.

As we left the rally we found ourselves following John Edwards’ campaign bus for a few miles. The snow storm was coming on. We got a little bit lost and found ourselves driving down a dirt road in the wintry twilight. We rode in silence, each enjoying some inner light.


Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

0 thoughts on “Leaving the Planet to Our Pets?”

  1. I apologize for potentially sounding aggressive earlier. I don’t feel up to explaining the situation, aside from repeating that I see a the rights/situation of disabled people and companion animals as parallel, and that I’ve seen too many beloved pets die or suffer without society caring in circumstances the same society tries to ensure no child would experience. It happened again tonight, and seeing it coming made me react badly to the topic.
    Unrelatedly… Considering your educational focus on music & disability activism, I thought you might want to see this article on Karlheinz Stockhausen.
    My ability to parse essays written in that style is weak, but I caught a disturbing undercurrent — and shockingly, that the author referred to the murder of a disabled woman by the Nazis as euthanasia. I was thinking that if you wish, you can probably see the subtler problems and address them either to admin, the author, or the ‘Fray’ discussion on a level far beyond what I can.
    I hope your weekend went well (or at least better than mine).


  2. Hi Maggie: You are right to call me up short on the matter of animal abuse: cruelty to animals is a serious problem around the globe. I do think that there are plenty of people who care more about cats and dogs than human beings. Pathological sensibilities abound on this blue planet and all we can do is insist on what’s right. Me? I want to save the whales and the children and the greyhounds too. I suppose I even worry about the tarantulas if it’s true that the ice cap is melting.


  3. Oh, I wish that most people cared even half as much about cats/dogs as they do about kids! I’d love to see pets have a guaranteed home instead of caged & killed, be able to expect their ‘parents’ to care for them if they’re unwell instead of killing them, to have medical insurance so those of us that aren’t well-off can bring them to see a doctor when necessary… Heck, I’d be ecstatic if people merely cared enough to make sure their pet’s food is nutritious, doesn’t use recognized toxins/carcinogens as preservatives, and relies on a named meat source (i.e. “chicken”) instead of everything thrown into the rendering plant (including tumors).
    Even better if I could say openly with joy “my cat has passed 1.5 years thriving with congestive heart failure” and not get a reply like “why are you wasting the time/money instead of getting rid of it and getting a kitten?”
    Those of us that actually are that connected with pets typically have been aware of global warming and trying to do what we can, btw. We wouldn’t research food ingredients & hand-feed a sick pet and then waltz around carelessly wrecking nature, think about it… :-p


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