Gandhi, Hitler, a Book, & Dog/God by da-AL plus Cheryl Batavia’s poem


“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” — supposedly Mahatma Gandhi said that. (Isn’t this picture of him great? He’s drafting a document at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942. My novel-writer side can’t help but wonder if he knew that writing longhand enhances creativity — and I bet intelligence!) First off, he didn’t….

Gandhi drafting a document at Birla House, Mumbai, August 1942.
By Kanu Gandhi – gandhiserve.org, Public Domain.

Second off, if anyone said it, is it true? I love animals and have followed a vegetarian diet for years. All the same, I’m definitely nowhere near a saint, particularly given my now-and-again deviations into the hypocracy of eating fish. My father was wicked to his family, yet tears rolled down his cheeks when he heard that local geese were slaughtered. Hitler and was a vegetarian for the last part of his life. And he adored his dog, Blondi

Photo of Hitler with a dog.
Hitler & dog. Photo by Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F051673-0059 / CC-BY-SA, CC BY-SA 3.0 de

What I know for sure is that when I see someone acting kindly toward an animal, it makes me feel like there’s a soul somewhere within their despicableness…

Scratch the last paragraph — that was just my lazy brain leaning on clichés to please you with niceties, gentle reader. It was my typing falling into well-worn grooves of platitudes. Really, if someone is mean and shows neither remorse nor interest in reforming themselves, if people around them erect the scaffolding to sustain their meanness… well… Delving into morality is too lengthy to weave into this post.Cover of "Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey," by Kathleen Rooney

Here, look! My fingers have switched gears to copy this for you: a paragraph from wise and poetic Kathleen Rooney’s latest novel. She was a Happiness Between Tails guest to tell about her amazing Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, and then to tell us about her newest tale, Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey. Her Cher Ami book is written in the style of first-person characterizations of various humans and Cher Ami, a true-life heroic pigeon who saved many World War I soldiers’ lives.

The most dazzling chapters are those through Cher Ami’s eyes. I’m about halfway through the book and am most recently awed by this bit of feathered philosophizing. Cher Ami thinks this about the soldiers:

“Sometimes they renamed animals as different animals. They called the canned corned beef in their rations “monkey meat” and referred to their body lice as “shirt rabbis.” They’d pick the insects off one another, comparing themselves to apes grooming in some great gray zoo. I could tell that many of the men felt terribly lonely, helpless and estranged from their fellow soldiers, but they were never alone and never powerless thanks to all the life that depended on them, the lice and the rats and the mice. Each man was the miserable monarch of a kingdom that squirmed with vermin, one that consisted of the dirt and the bit of sky each one could see from the dirt of their feet in their boots, of their boots in the mud — a kingdom all but indistinguishable from a grave.” An excerpt from Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey, by Kathleen Rooney, who also wrote marvelous Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk.

About dogs…

So okay, I’m not one to dwell on whether ”God,” the kind with a capital “G,” exists. But the fact that Dog spells God backwards in English — isn’t that an interesting metaphor for how even the worst dirtbags among us can experience the love of a dog? (Here’s a post where I dip another toe into that conversation.)

Dogs… their lives are far far too short!!!! They get better and better with age, more perceptive of our needs, more adoring of us, and ready to kiss us for our slightest kindness. Just the other night, my husband mistakenly called our current dear doggie by the name of one of our two dogs who passed away — when? yesterday? two years ago? — either feels not much different at times (a bit about that here and more on it here). My heart goes out to a good friend who sweet Bambi-faced furry girl passed away recently… In these times of the COVID pandemic especially, our pets do so much for us. It’s no wonder that more folks are adopting furry family lately.

Now here’s Cheryl Batavia, a.k.a. The Gulf Coast Poet, to put smiles on our faces. A nature-lover, she blogs from Florida and has published books for all ages. She can also be reached via email.

Photo of Cheryl Batavia at Manasota Beach, FL, Gulf of Mexico, by Stephanie Snow Photography.
Photo of Cheryl Batavia at Manasota Beach, FL, Gulf of Mexico, by Stephanie Snow Photography.

Tribute to a Family Dog; In loving memory of Clifford, 2001-2015

Copyright© 2020 by Cheryl Batavia, a.k.a. The Gulf Coast Poet

Enthusiasm

Your spirit is enthusiasm!

When you wag your tail,

your entire body shimmies.

You leap high into the air

to catch popcorn in your mouth,

drool at the dairy drive-thru,

anticipating your ice cream cone.

You swim far out into the lake,

to fetch a stick…

and swim back to fetch again.

You run alongside a wheelchair

that travels eight miles an hour,

keep pace with kids

on rollerblades and bicycles.

When I come home from work,

you greet me at the door,

all four feet in the air!

Clifford at age fourteen. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.
Clifford at age fourteen. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.

Friendliness

Friendliness is your persona!

You show open-hearted affection

for family, friends, neighbors…

and kindly strangers.

Grandmothers are your favorites…

The feeling is mutual!

The vet, when you are boarded,

locates you in a run where you can

greet all those who come and go…

You are overjoyed!

Katey Batavia and Clifford at Miami Beach, FL. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.
Katey Batavia and Clifford at Miami Beach, FL. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.

Love

Your aura is love!

Love radiates from your eyes,

shimmers from your wagging tail.

Love is you resting near us,

ignoring the sassy new cat,

not snatching the Thanksgiving

turkey cooling on the countertop.

Somehow, you know we’ll share.

Love is barking at things

that go “bump” in the night.

Love is wet kisses, warm cuddles,

and sharing group hugs.

Joe and Katey Batavia joined Clifford in his crate. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.
Joe and Katey Batavia joined Clifford in his crate. Photo by Cheryl Batavia.

Empathy

Empathy is in your soul!

You have a silly smile,

know family members by name,

understand most of what we say.

You talk to us with

unintelligible vocalizations…

We try really hard to understand!

You are happy when we are happy.

You comfort us when we are sad.

When we are injured,

you lick our wounds.

Petted and praised,

you know you are loved!

Tell us — what are your thoughts about the bonds between humans and the rest of the creature world? Or about anything else you want to discuss?…

45 thoughts on “Gandhi, Hitler, a Book, & Dog/God by da-AL plus Cheryl Batavia’s poem

  1. There are always weird exceptions to Gandhi’s quote.. The unconditional love of dogs is attractive to many different types of people. I believe they are like mirrors of God’s love.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing!!… 🙂

    JUST MY DOG
    He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds;
    My other ears that hear above the winds.
    He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea.

    He has told me a thousand times over that
    I am his reason for being: by the way he
    rests against my leg; by the way he thumps
    his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he
    shows his hurt when I leave without taking him.
    (I think it makes him sick with worry when he
    is not along to care for me.)

    When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive.
    When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile.
    When I am happy, he is joy unbounded.
    When I am a fool, he ignores it.
    When I succeed, he brags.
    Without him, I am only another person.
    With him, I am all-powerful.
    He is loyalty itself.
    He has taught me the meaning of devotion.
    With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace.
    He has brought me understanding
    where before I was ignorant.
    His head on my knee can heal my human hurts.
    His presence by my side is protection against
    my fears of dark and unknown things.
    He has promised to wait for me…
    whenever…wherever–in case I need him.
    And I expect I will–as I always have.
    He is just my dog.
    (Author Gene Hill…)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. TBH I don’t want pets anymore. Our last cat was my parents’. When my mother died, my father lost all interest in it. Didn’t have a name. When he too passes away, we took the cat in and named her Miao Dzedong.. 😉 She was lovely. Inside and out. But when she died was susch a heartbreak, we have staunchly resisted any attempt from our daughters to take in “just another kitty”. 🐱

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally understand. I’m not sure I would’ve gotten another dog after my 2 passed away — but it was wonderful to have the young dog remind me of the good part of caring for a pet. to my mind, the best thing one can do to honor a pet is to get another one

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, da-AL, as always you have given me much to think about. Being old enough to remember, I knew much about Hitler, but not his love for his dog. It follows that one cannot judge a person’s character by how he treats his pet, nor how much his pet loves him. But what about those who refuse to have an animal around them? In many cases it may be an allergy, but it also may be lack of recognition . . . or even consideration for the life of furred creatures in general. I am and have been preoccupied in fighting against what I see as a living specter who seems oblivious to those lives and intent in destroying all laws made to protect them . . . as well as protections of fellow human creatures. I apologize if I have not been on WordPress enough to follow you, dear friend. I saw this as a fight we must win, and so it has taken my reserves of time and energy. Take care and be well.

    Liked by 2 people

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