Be Kind to Animals Week has been sponsored by the American Humane Society annually since 1915. It is a time to consider the important role that animals play in our lives. At the organization's website, they provide valuable information on some concrete ways to observe this week:

  • Speak out for animals
  • Report animal abuse
  • Appreciate wildlife
  • Adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue
  • Take care of your pet

Ancient indigenous peoples recognized no separating wall or gulf between human and animal kingdoms. They saw all creatures of the world as fellow travelers and spiritual companions. They respected animals for the wisdom they had to offer about living on Earth. Tribes and individuals adopted totems — animals whose power and knowledge could serve as a source of strength, insight, and renewal. And in stories, myths, and dreams, animals shared their secrets about the magic and mystery of life.

Personal Explorations

Today more and more people are trying to rekindle this primal connection with animals. Take some time this week to do some soul-searching about this topic. Here are some thoughts, quotations, and exercises to get you going.

  • Did you have a pet when you were growing up? Do you now? How has your life been enriched by your pets?
  • In surveys about pets, the following answers are usually given about the positive roles they play in a guardian's life: greets me when I come home, seeks my companionship, communicates with me, stays close when I am upset, enjoys my affection, calms me when I am anxious, makes me laugh. Come up with some special treat for your pet this week as a show of thanks.
  • What is your favorite children's book about an animal? What drew you to this creature? What was your favorite stuffed animal?
  • Animals are still struggling to survive in the wild. Say a prayer for the wolves that are being shot in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, eastern portions of Oregon and Washington and northern Utah. Pray too for the dolphins killed in Japan and the baby seals in Canada.
  • Think about the ways in which animals are caregivers. They help children develop their self-esteem. They help cardiac patients heal and live longer lives. They serve as companions for lonely senior citizens and isolated prisoners. How and when have animals helped you?
  • Chet Raymo has written: "Whatever our common origin, this much is certain. The sea squid is my cousin. The hummingbird and the humpback whale are twigs on my family tree. Bacteria and viruses are kith and kin. All species of life on earth share a common chemistry and a common genetic inheritance." What animals where you live do you consider your neighbors?
  • What was your most vivid encounter with a wild animal? What did you feel like? Did you learn anything about yourself? About animals in the wild?
  • If you could come back to earth as an animal, which one would you be?