This column actually started in my head many months ago, long before winter snow covered the ground.
I was driving along a country road and was admiring a beautiful ebony horse feeding in the fenced pasture when all of a sudden, the clouds opened and without warning a torrential rain storm began pummeling my windshield. I had to smile, in fact I laughed out loud, because the horse immediately half trotted to a big tree and snuggled under the “umbrella” branches; making me think some humans do not have the brains to come in out of the rain, but the horse never hesitated.
That simple act by the horse made me wonder about other animals and how their deductive minds adapt to every day life. Take a turtle far away from water and it will always head in the direction of a river or pond or lake; how does it know? Hawks will circle the sky hundreds of feet in the air and still spot a small mouse scurrying through the brush. My bird feeder could be empty for days, but as soon as I fill it with seeds all types of birds and squirrels appear, how do they know?
About four years ago a wild black cat showed up at our back door, he wouldn’t come near me and if I advanced, he would run away. I began feeding him and giving him water, some mornings he was nowhere to be found but when I banged the dish against the cement step and he heard that familiar sound he came running.
We had an orange cat; it came home one day with a fish hook embedded in its mouth. Now this cat never took guff from any other cat or dog so I was leery cutting off the barb and slipping the shaft of the hook through the protruded gum, but all the while I performed the delicate operation he only howled and never moved a muscle. His howling was loud because it must have hurt, he could have carved up my hand with his sharp claws but somehow in his tiny cat brain he knew I was helping him.
Our eldest son was getting married in Hamilton and I drove our youngest son to that city so they could attend the dress rehearsal. I waved good bye and stood on the corner waiting for the light to turn green. That was the only thing I remember, I was hit by a car (a drunk driver) and taken to the hospital by ambulance. We live in Ennismore, Duke was our floppy-eared, faithful German shepherd; my wife said the dog laid down at the front door precisely at the time I was hit by the car and never moved, without both eating and drinking until I hobbled back through the door. Three hundred kilometers away? How did he know?
My grandmother’s parrot telling the breadman how much bread they needed, our dog learning how to ring the door bell when he wanted back in, and so many stories about hero pets saving human lives.
Dumb animals? I don’t think so.
Russ Sanders, firstname.lastname@example.org