Thursday, April 21, 2011

"Of Poetry, Their Passionate Describing of Passions"

I just wrote a short response to a work called "The Defense of Poesy" by Philip Sidney. He begins with an anecdote about a horseman who so elegantly describes the importance of horsemen, and then of horses that Sidney claims "I think he would have persuaded me to have wished myself a horse." Sidney's "Defense" claims that all of the best writing is covered in poetry, and that is what makes it best, and that is why poetry is so important.

I'm a fan of poetry, so I agree, but that's not the point.

I'm unflinchingly passionate about the things I'm passionate about. This is almost a shameful thing to admit, but last week during my interview with the Audubon Aquarium they asked me why I should be the one to get the internship, over everyone else. I almost (did) teared up when I said "Because I know I want it more than anyone else you're going to talk to. This is the thing I want to do with my life." I had to take a deep breath when I heard my voice get the first crack in it.

But that's what it's supposed to be about. It's supposed to be about passion. I can go on forever about animals, about animal care, animal behavior. It's exciting. It's amazing. It's beautiful. It's poetic. I've gone onto a roof to watch a hawk eat a squirrel, I've sat on the sidewalk to watch crows dodge cars and eat a dead squirrel, I've lain down on the floor to watch ants come and go, I've stopped on the side of the road to watch deer, I've convinced other people to stop on the side of the road so I can watch deer, I've been late to class because I heard a new bird sound and had to find the bird it came from (that was the first time I saw a cardinal! So it was worth it). I want to know what it does and why it does it, how it does it, what it likes and what it's scared of. And every animal has its own identity and it's just fantastic to discover it, because it happens so slowly.

There was a raccoon at a zoo I interned at and her favorite food was hard-boiled eggs. Once a month her weight had to be taken and the scale made her nervous. The only thing she'd get on the scale for was an egg. There was a moose that liked overripe bananas. And I'll never forget either of those things because they were things that were unique.

I have a weird kind of animal radar. If there's a dog within my range of vision, I will see it, even if it's 2 or 3 blocks away. I can hear the the distinct rattle of collar and leash and know there's a dog somewhere nearby. I notice all the squirrels, rabbits, groundhogs, skunks, raccoons on my walks because it's what I love. I love watching and listening. You learn the most when you're quiet.

And dogs! I love dogs. I volunteered the local animal shelter last winter and it just changed my life a little bit. Here are the ones that stuck with me the most:

 This is Beauregard, a Doberman. He was a big, big guy and I have a soft spot for big dogs. He'd been in the shelter 3 times and was depressed. He wouldn't get up. He'd lay in his bed with his head against the wall and his eyes open. He became my special project. I would go in to see him first, and often, always excited, always happy. After our walk, I would sit with him and talk to him and keep him company. One day I was going into his room and a woman asked if she could come in with me. He got out of his bed and came over to say hi to me and the woman said "I was just in here and he absolutely would not get out of his bed for anything." But he always got up for me. Another volunteer said he wouldn't let her put his harness on, but he never gave me trouble. It broke my heart to see him sad, but it was so good to see him make progress over time. He was eventually adopted by two people that would make him feel loved all the time.
 Charlie! Charlie is a shepherd mix. He always had a lot of energy and I think he scared away some people because he had too much energy. We would go on long, long walks because I knew he needed them the most. And he was so great to walk. He stopped when I stopped, followed where I wanted him to follow. One walk he saw something that startled him in the bushes and he would not continue on the path we were on. I did a little investigating and couldn't see anything, but when I pushed him forward he hid behind me and would only peek around my legs. So sweet! When I would play with him off leash, he'd fetch for awhile and when he was tired out he would come over to snuggle. I sat down on the ground and he put his head on my shoulder and sat next to me. I love this dog. He was the most fun to walk and of all the dogs here, I think he is the one that would have been the most perfect fit for me. I hope he has a happy home, but I wish I could've been the one to give him his forever home.
 Jonathan! He is the handsomest mutt dog! Very exuberant, but learned quick how to behave to get the kind of attention he wanted. He was an explorer; we ended up walking through corn fields and chasing deer. And at the end of a long walk, he'd just be a sweet dog to hang out with.
Quinn! Quinn is a small, young German shepherd. Look at how pretty! When she came in she was wary of people and wouldn't let anyone pet her. But she was playful enough that she'd tolerate anyone with a tennis ball. We played fetch for hours, and after some of her energy was gone we'd go on a walk. Anything she could pick up, she wanted to play fetch with. When it started to snow, everything was a toy. She'd jump through the snow like a jackrabbit, bury her face in it, catch snowballs. I played so hard with her one day, running and jumping, that my wallet fell out of my pocket and got lost in the snow. But it was worth it. On my last day at the shelter before leaving home for winter break, I put her in her room and walked out and then realized I'd never see her again. I immediately turned back into her room, got onto the ground, wrapped my arms around her neck and gave her a big hug. Then I realized that she let me hug her! Just a month ago she hadn't let me pat her head and now she was letting me hug her! I cried all the way home from the shelter.

Relationships with animals are just worth it. They're worth the time and the effort, they're worth the hurt when it doesn't go well, or the good hurt when it goes well but you can't be the one to take them home. I love it.

That's your long post for the day.

I'm still sick and can't breathe and it makes eating the most boring thing to do, which is unfortunate because eating is usually my favorite thing to do. Meanwhile, the heat is back on in our apartment! And it snowed today, so we got it back just in time.

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