I’ve long wondered about what connection exists between animals and people. It seems an innate love for some, while others seem to have no feelings at all. The people that don’t care for animals don’t seem like bad people, and I harbor no ill will for their not feeling an attraction towards our four-footed friends. If I have a problem, it’s with those that deliberately torture them. I mean, it’s not like anyone is putting a gun to anyone’s head and forcing someone to adopt a pet. Nonetheless, these misanthropes go out of their way to find one and make its life a living hell. The horror stories abound. They point to the fact that if the bible is correct, and we are truly their caretakers, I can only think that we’re doing a really lousy job.
My own theories as to why some “get” animals and others don’t was kicked into high gear by the following news story. Staff Sgt. Jesse Knott, a soldier in the war zone of Afghanistan, took an interest in a feral cat he named Koshka. Recognizing the signs that the stray was being mistreated, he took him in—even though against military regulations. Allowing the kitty to share his office, little did he dream that his simple act of kindness would be repaid many times over when Koshka gave the grieving warrior his life back.
The moment occurred one night when Knott hit rock bottom. Learning that two friends had died in a brutal attack, the nightmare of being in a war snowballed into abject desolation. Alone in his office, he lost himself that evening. His worth gone, he sat in the darkness when an unexpected angel took centerstage. Whether serendipitously or by divine intervention, the animal settled in the sergeant’s lap. A symbiotic healing occurring, a piece of that animal’s spirit was mysteriously transferred into Knott’s soul allowing clarity—a realization that you are who are no matter what.
This image evoked recollection of a powerful dream I had many years ago. I was having problems with people berating me and making me feel worthless. I got to the point of questioning why I was even taught to write and speak if all I met was confrontation and others trying to strip of me of the right of expression. In the midst of the ordeal, I went to sleep one night and dreamt of a tiger. He was in the backyard of my apartment complex and trying to navigate the fire escape of a building in order to flee. Considering it a threat, everyone was shouting at it and vengefully demanding it be murdered. I was so furious at them. Didn’t they realize he had the right to exist? I watched out my back window as police arrived on the scene and shot it dead right in front of me. It fell into the courtyard and, in my dream, I cried and cried. I was hysterical that something that possessed such beauty and majesty was destroyed. An Asian man saw me weeping and approached me. He asked why I was crying. I told him I was crying because the tiger had been killed. He said, “Don’t be sad. He lived a tiger and died a tiger and that is enough.”
I awoke feeling calm. After so much stress and heartache, I understood. What threatens people they slaughter, but the slaying doesn’t take away anything from what is there. The characteristics someone or something possesses are not transitory and will live on. It’s what leads those that engage in such heartless acts of brutality to be so unhappy—because ultimately what they’re trying to eradicate will never go away.
In reading this story, I believe it’s what Jess Knott understood also. Only he received the message from the littlest tiger curled up in his lap.