In a recent review of 3 Nights in August, I innocently wrote, “While La Russa’s concern for animals is a smidgen extreme, he has a great baseball mind.” Animal lovers reacted, concerned that I viewed animals as disposable creatures without feelings or souls.
It certainly wasn’t my intent to stir the passions of animal lovers. So, let me clarify.
Let’s start by looking at what I wrote: “…La Russa’s concern for animals is a smidgen extreme…” Smidgen is defined as “a small portion; a bit or mite.” Thus, a smidgen extreme does not mean “totally wrong”. Rather, it means “a bit extreme.”
In fact, I’d support several of the Animal Rescue Foundation’s position statements. For instance, people should understand that getting a pet is a serious and life-style changing decision. Pets should be treated with kindness throughout their life. Spaying and neutering pets is a good idea.
However, some of these position statements are a “smidgen extreme.” You agree, if you:
- Let your dog ride in the car with his nose out the window
- Have an aquarium
- Have a working dog
- Describe yourself as a “dog owner” rather than a “dog guardian”
- Think that dissecting a frog in biology class is OK
- Have your cat declawed
Read the position statements for yourself, then decide if it is possible to have compassion for animals but still think that some of these statements are a smidgen extreme.
Now to some of the details.
Do animals have feelings? It’s clear to most dog owners that dogs are thinking and feeling animals. Our dog, Shep, can be devious, waiting to snatch a tissue from the trash until he has a good opportunity to get away with it. He can sulk, when he figures out that it’s Sunday and he’s going to be left at home. He can give the silent treatment on those rare instances when he’s not invited on a walk. Hearing the word “walk” will bring a sparkle to his eyes. While some individual dogs might be, um, dumb, dogs in general are not dumb animals.
Do animals have souls? In the sense of having a unique personality, then yes. In the sense of living after death, then no, I don’t think so. I don’t expect to see Fluffy or Rover in heaven. (But if I do, it won’t bother me.)
Do I “love” my dog? No. Not really. I love my wife. I love my children. I love my family. I try to love my neighbor. But I don’t love my dog. I wouldn’t jump in front of a bus to save him. I wouldn’t go to any length to get him the best medical care. But while I don’t love my dog, I do like my dog. (Usually.)
The Bible teaches that God gives mankind dominion (stewardship and caretaking) over God’s creation. In fact, the Bible teaches that a person’s treatment of animals reflects on his relationship with God.
A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.
(Proverbs 12:10 NIV)