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Some People Would Not Understand

Story ID:10419
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various Ohio USA
Person:Kathy O'Keefe
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I recently commented on an article on the internet’s Cleveland Plain Dealer
site where a nearby small city was getting ready to shoot innocent “nuisance”
deer. I realize that for some people the prospect of deer nibbling in their
gardens is frustrating. But I feel that they fail to see this from the deer’s
perspective. After all – did we not gobble up their woods for our own purposes
to build more spacious homes - thereby limiting their own needed space? Where
are they to go? Where are they to find food?

I said something like this in my PD comment, and wouldn’t you know – someone
commented that there are people who like animals better then they like people.
What a juvenile response. It is not about liking animals better than humans. It is
about being concerned for the deer who are also God’s creatures. We need to
find alternatives to killing them. This is old –very old. We should be using
contraceptives on the does. Worried about deer meat contamination? just
don’t kill the does!

And later during the day I read a sad but loving account on the All-Creatures.org
internet site about two wonderful and sensitive caretakers at Catskill Animal
Sanctuary and their account of having to sorrowfully say good-bye to Helen. Helen
was a cow who came to CAS when she was only a calf, blind and frightened.

Now Helen was grown and nine years old and Kathy O’Keefe of CAS remembers that
she learned to love and trust after such a difficult beginning. She even soon bonded
with a young steer named Rudy and with her human caretakers as well. Kathy
recalled that Helen proved to be spunky, vivacious, and smart. She notes that Helen
was hardly a shrinking violet, and she recalled the times when she would be the one
to test and break the fences when the mood would strike her. What wonderful patience
and understanding the staff showed to her at those times. But she was also always
the one ready for a snack or a snuggle.

It was obvious that the CAS caretakers accepted her as she was, and I couldn’t help
smiling reading their description of her. She seemed to be so human. And indeed – animals
do have personalities, and many of them show a great deal of intelligence as did Helen.

And how amazing -that despite her blindness, she managed to thrive until her ninth year
when the vet noticed that the pressure behind her eyes was building and causing her pain.
He suggested that it would be better to have her eyes removed. This procedure had been
done successfully before at CAS with three blind horses. So it was decided to take Helen
to Cornell for the surgery.

After enticing her into the van with treats and a little bit of nudging, Kathy and staff
member Alex began the over 4-hour drive to Cornell. Once there- Helen was directed into
a deeply bedded stall. Kathy then gave the vets her history, and while introducing Helen
to them, she also let them lovingly know that Helen was looked upon as “a 1,000 pound
cocker spaniel” and a beloved friend to staff and visitors alike to the Catskill Animal

The surgery went well, and everyone at the sanctuary breathed a sigh of relief. However,
this happiness was short lived when Kathy received a message to call Cornell. Helen had
slipped and fallen as she tried to get up while coming out of anesthesia.

Because she tore ligaments and cartilage in one of her back legs, corrective surgery
was not possible. This was devastating news as this meant she had to be euthanized.
The return trip for Kathy and Alex was not a happy one. When they arrived -Helen was
lying down in her stall. Kathy softly called her name and Helen turned to her and lowed
a soft response. She responded in kind when Alex approached and she heard his voice.
She then nuzzled him too.

When the vet came in -Kathy sat cross-legged with Helen’s head in her lap. She stroked
her and repeatedly told her how much she loved her and that every thing would be okay
until she slowly slipped away. She then laid her head back and whispered “It was my
honor to know you.”

Of this sad happening, she reflected: “How privileged we were to have been a part of
this dear animal’s life...and how privileged Alex and I were to have eased her death.
My face and the front of my vest were soaked with tears and my chest felt like it would
explode. It was a long ride home. Yet as much as it hurt, I would not have missed it
for the world. These gut-wrenching goodbyes are, after all, the price of love.”

How lucky Helen was- despite her blindness and premature death. She had had 9 years
of contentment and affection which the cows on the milking lines would never have. She
had had mobility and access to a sunny pasture. The cows on the milking line never moved
out of their dark airless factory surroundings – day after day, after day. And this was the
only cruel existence they would know until released from it and then slaughtered for their
meat. No retirement for them after years of faithful milk out put. Selfish man wants
retirement for himself, but is not concerned that other living beings receive it as well.

Do you think that the clod who commented re the deer problems around the periphery
of Cleveland saying that some of us love animals more than humans would have
understood this concern for Helen? I don’t think so. Thank you Kathy, Alex, and anyone
else who made Helen’s life happy and peaceful. You are indeed blessed with a rare
compassion so few people have.

There was a time when I ate ham, cooked eggs, cirak (Slovak cheese) and Paska (egg bread).
All the Catholic families would bring this food in baskets to be blessed on Holy Saturday and enjoyed on Easter Sunday.

I am so glad that for me the wonderful joy of Christ’s resurrection no longer means eating
these foods which often cause so much farm animal suffering. I became vegetarian in 1978
and vegan in 1983 after a ride to Madison, Wisconsin to protest primate cruelty there. Happily,
on the bus from Cleveland, one of the protestors clued me into the fact that cheese was made
from an enzyme made from either a pig’s or calf’s stomach. I was shocked to hear this, but
resolved from then on to be vegan. It was a resolution I never regretted. It was a blessing too
because so far I need no prescription drugs. Big Pharma probably does not like vegans like me.
Wouldn’t it be great though if there were millions more like us?

So, what did this vegan have for breakfast on this Easter Sunday morning? I toasted a bagel
and then lathered it with tofu mayo. Then I added, a slice of vegan cheese and topped it
with a bright red slice of fresh tomatoe. Delicious. Later on, I hope to make a favorite dish
made of rice, mushrooms, green pepper, onions, and tofu sour cream. I love this simple and
delicious vegan dish. For dessert I will have a couple of fresh strawberries dipped in vegan
chocolate. Do I sound deprived? I hope not, because I am not, and I am happy with my
compassionate vegan diet. Thirty-two years and counting – praise God.