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April 19, 2014

Looking Back: Animals are amazing creatures and far from dumb

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The Daily Star

---- — Wherever did the expression “dumb animals” come from? 

I have heard this expression many times during my lifetime. But why say or even allude to such a thing? So many times we have seen our pets simply seem to understand us. Maybe it’s our tone of voice or gestures but I do know that our daughter’s cat who comes to visit each day knows when I don’t feel too well. 

He announces his arrival with a little “meow” and up he jumps to cuddle down on the couch or bed with me. What a nice feeling I have to know such a lovable creature, and all for our comfort and enjoyment.

It was just the other day when I saw him sitting by my little plant watering can on the wide windowsill amid several of the house plants. I couldn’t believe my eyes, for he slowly reached into the watering can and then lifted out his paw to lick the water off.

This he did several times. I placed a small can of water in front of him, but he preferred his own way. Who told him to do such an incredible thing? 

Remember the monarch butterfly our children learned about in school? It was amazing to learn their ability and skill to migrate some 1,800 miles from Canada to Mexico and that same butterfly’s brain is about the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen. Amazing … and they don’t even have a GPS! But someone had to create and engineer all that … didn’t they?

Years ago, we, as children, didn’t know about DNA and its function. That,too, is mind-boggling to learn that “one gram of DNA can store as much information as one trillion CDs. To put it another way, a single teaspoon of dried DNA can store enough information to build 350 times as many humans as are alive today,” (so I read in The Watchtower). 

That I can’t seem to fathom. Science was not one of my strong points, but I try. In fact I’m still learning how to use the CD along with all the other pluses on my computer. (Intellectually designed?)

One evening, several weeks ago, I glanced out the back door to see a fluffy raccoon munching on the cat kibbles that we had left on our back porch for the visiting neighboring felines. Mr. Coon was daintily scooping up a few morsels at a time with his little fingered paws. He then placed them in his mouth to munch away. There was no messing around, no sloppiness or woofing his food down and no talking with his mouth full. 

Now I ask you: How long did it take us to teach our children table manners? 

Dumb animals?

I remember the many lessons learned when young, which we passed on to our children — especially so when it came to taking care of our pets. Responsibility is taught and the seriousness of respecting life is most paramount. It is wonderful to know our Creator’s love in giving us such a variety in all of Earth’s creations.

Even the lowly polliwogs we caught when we were so young were given the needed care.

It was so interesting to see frogs being developed from a gilled round head with a long flat tail. Absolutely fantastic!

Many a springtime we delighted in wading into the neighboring pond to scoop up those jelled frogs eggs in one of our mother’s Mason jars. We took our proud catch home to nurture in an aquarium and were fascinated to watch little legs grow, a tail disappear and then we had tiny frogs that needed lots of flies. There weren’t too many flying bugs to catch that time of early spring so we took our little hoppers back to their mommies. It was a great time of life to be young and learn all about how an Almighty God provided so much for us to enjoy.

Yes, I do thoroughly believe in “creation” even though some and even many school textbooks deny such intelligence. Most of all I simply do adore all of our God’s handiwork in providing us with such a variety of animals to enjoy. 

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 81-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at elaine-kniskern@stny.rr.com. ‘Senior Scene’ columns can be found at www. thedailystar.com/seniorscene.