Favorite pets, and the value of animals

Marc Morrone / Newsday /

Q: We have two dogs, a pony, two cats, two cockatiels, a ferret and three bunnies — and we like them all. My sisters and I were wondering: What was the pet in your life that was your absolute favorite?

A: I find the entire natural world amazing and am in awe of all the creatures that live on our planet. Each one has something about it that is unique and fascinating. Each species of animal that we keep as a pet and allow to share our lives has a quality that we can relate to. That’s why we enjoy their company so much.

Dogs and horses are the two animals we owe the biggest debt to, because without them we would all still be living in caves. Whatever primitive man or woman first looked at a wolf or a horse many thousands of years ago and decided the animal was worth more alive than dead had no idea he or she would end up changing the world.

Our partnership and subjugation of these two species allowed us the free time to expand our minds, culture and technology. So every human on planet Earth — whether he or she likes animals or not — owes a big debt to dogs and horses that is yet to be repaid.

Cats and birds show us the purest and most honest form of friendship because those animals really do not need us at all to provide for them. Both are quite capable of living independently of humans. When a cat jumps onto your lap or a bird flies to you and perches on your shoulder for no reason other than wanting to spend time with you, you should be flattered. Such a form of friendship is rare in this day and age.

Ferrets I admire, as they are always optimistic. They are never in a bad mood or off in any way. At any opportunity, they want to dance and play and rejoice in life and never seem to find any reason not to.

Rabbits are one of the animals I have the highest admiration for. They are true survivors. The entire world is the enemy of the rabbit. They are eaten by so many different animals and are always running from something. However, they face it all with a quiet dignity, and when the danger has passed they put it all behind them and go on with lives as if nothing happened.

So, you see, all your pets have qualities unique to them, and to class one as better than another or one more worthy of your care or attention is not fair. That is why I cannot answer your question. I am always learning something new from my different pets every day. I admire and respect them all.