Pet Life

Dogs, cats and Pope Francis

DOG DAZE - Kathy Moran - The Philippine Star

When the news that we had a new Pope came, it was a little past midnight and like many millions, I was “Pope watching.”

When I first heard that he would be called Pope Francis, I thought, like many others, that he would name himself after Francis Xavier.

But, it was after Francis of Assisi that he chose to be named — and then the pet lover in me thought, “He must love animals and the environment, too.”

Well, I have been told often enough that St. Francis of Assisi was known as the defender of the poor and a lover of animals. I have also heard that Pope Francis wants to be a defender of those who have less in life.

In his first homily on the day he was installed as pope, Pope Francis said, “Today, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others. To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope, it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds.”

He added that, “The vocation of being a ‘protector,’ however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone. It means protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us. It means respecting each of God’s creatures and respecting the environment in which we live. It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts.”

* * *

And then there is the story of Alessandro Forlani, a sight-impaired journalist of Italian RAI radio, as reported on www.pawnation.com. The story goes:

“While the journalists lined up to be greeted by Pope Francis — some performing the baciamano, the traditional kissing the pope’s ring, others embracing him in bear hugs — Vatican officials approached.

“‘As I waited in line to enter the hall, the security guards told me that most likely I wouldn’t be allowed to get in with the dog,” Alessandro Forlani, who works for Italian RAI radio, wrote on his Facebook page. “They said that Pope Francis had asked to meet me. He had seen Asià and wanted to see both of us.

“Asià walked on the stage, briefly sniffed the Pope’s white dress and black shoes and then waited patiently as Forlani talked to the pontiff. ‘I asked for a blessing for my wife and daughter at home,’ Forlani told Discovery News. ‘In a fitting image for a pope inspired by the patron saint of animals, Francis bent down to caress the dog. He said, ‘And a special blessing for you dog, too.’ He broke the ceremonial rules as my presence on stage with Asià wasn’t previously arranged, Forlani said.”

On the day of Pope Francis’ first homily, I got a glimpse of a man who loves all of God’s creation — people, nature and animals included.

* * *

Why Dogs are Better than Cats by Bradley Trevor Greive is one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time — not only because I am more of a dog lover than a cat lover. But then, I have learned to adjust to the cats I have rescued. Still, nothing makes my heart skip a beat more than the way my doggie companions jump when I get home or love to chill beside me when I am chillin’, too.

New York Times bestselling author Bradley Trevor Greive and award-winning photographer Rachael Hale team up on their first collaborative effort as they try to explain why dogs are better than cats.

I really enjoyed reading the book because it is not written to criticize people who like cats and praise those who go for dogs. Instead, what it does is reveal the many exceptional virtues unique to dogs that make them special to people.

Here is some of the witty prose that Greive uses as he weighs the merits of dogs over cats. I laughed out loud — yes, to myself — as I read, “Dogs are social; cats are sociopaths” and “To dogs, you are the great love of their lives; to cats, you are the courtesan of the moment.” The photos in the book depict wonderfully the many virtues of dogs and cats, captured by Rachel Hale at their cutest or most fierce.

Greive weaves the history of the human connection to dogs and how they got to be “man’s best friend,” together with human nature’s predisposition to take things for granted. He presents us with an opportunity to stop for a moment and see the wonders of the dogs we love through fresh eyes.

Greive took me through the many possible “best friends” that man could have had. For example: “…parrots said only what they thought we wanted to hear … Platypuses were simply too weird and thus impossible to introduce at parties. Chameleons are not nearly as adaptable as everyone says … and beavers, well, what can I say? No one wants to live with a workaholic.”

And I couldn’t agree more when Greive relates that there are many types of dogs, one to fit every human personality — “the intrepid adventurer, fitness fanatic, glamorous jet-setters, no-nonsense tough guys, charismatic couch potatoes, Zen masters, party animals, even timid little wallflowers.”

I must add that the photos that accompanied each doggy description were definitely a work of genius.

Greive confronts the downside of dogs: more expensive vet care, the associated costs of daycare or walkers, training, food and the fact that they need a lot of your time for exercise and general camaraderie. And after investing in all that, they don’t live as long as cats.

Regardless of whether you are a dog person or a cat person, in this book you’ll recognize your pets (and maybe even discover something about yourself). 

The author has done such a good job of describing the difference between the two species and the traits that make them irresistible to those who love them.

Since I share my home with five dogs and five cats, I really believe this book is one any pet lover should read. It gave me many of those “awwww” feelings — making me know just how fortunate I am to love both cats and dogs.









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