Monday, 25 January 2010

Nature and Nurture- Pets (part 2)

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated- Gandhi

For a truly beneficial metamorphosis, change has to first commence from within. This is of great significance especially if children seek to emulate the very attitudes seen in their parents. Of course, I may be generalising. But yet, undeniably, parents wield a tremendous influence- whether positive or negative.

One approach towards creating environmentally responsible citizens of tomorrow is by parents instilling in them a love for fauna. This can be easily started by keeping pets (and the choices are infinite: fishes, cats, dogs, hamsters, mice…. and, if space permits, even hens and goats) and encouraging children to participate in the upkeep of these animals, even (and especially) during the times when it falls ill. Having pets also exposes children to the cycles and mysteries of life- lessons best learned from nature than from the classroom- and they would develop a supportive stance towards the welfare of other animals too. Similarly, hobbies could be started, such as identifying the flora and fauna (and migratory animals) around them and starting a photo collection of these.

At Beth Shalom, we’ve been brought up with animals. We would help in the upkeep of a neighbour’s cows (from where we also bought milk), and we ourselves used to have hens. Even now, we have fishes, cats, and a dog, and provide feed for pigeons and squirrels, and a bird bath (which is also frequented by crows and kites). Our parents also ensure that some fruits are left unplucked so that the urban fauna could enjoy these in leisure.

As Ruth mentioned, our animal rescue activities concentrated not just on our pets, but also on the urban wildlife in our locality, which included mongoose, stray cats, squirrels, bats, insects, and numerous birds (including crow pheasants, koels, sparrows, wagtails, owls, and barbets). It is hard to quantify the happiness upon seeing these recover and re-enter into the world!

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