Some people like animals. My father shared his room with a crow for a time, which makes me wonder a lot about my grandmother's sanity. I am not an animal person. When my husband and I watched My Dog Skip in the movie theater, we had to wait through the whole end credits so my man could get his emotions under control.
We have urban farmers here at MMM. Good for them. I can't deal with any more feces in life than absolutely necessary so farming is definitely not the path for me. In my teen years our family had both a pygmy hedgehog and a gerbil. They shared a large aquarium, which worked out fine during daylight hours. But at night the hedgehog would sleep and the gerbil would be up. We didn't notice anything for a while—until the bald spot showed up. Yep, Mr. Gerbil was nibbling on his roommate every night. Any underlying animal dislike tendencies were magnified then by the weirdness of this cannibalistic ritual.
I've always been a fan of St. Francis of Assisi, despite his animal connection. Many saints are a bit on the creepy side, as least to a Mormon outsider looking in, but he just seems mellow and nice. The neighborhood shrines to him are inviting, with little birds perched on his outstretched arms. The humility of the current pope is a good match for his namesake.
Our family has a dog and a desert tortoise. The dog ... he's an inside terrier. His hair is like another child if I add up the amount of stress it gives me. In my defense, I was pregnant and sick when I conceded to adding this canine companion. My boys love the dog. He relaxes them, serves as a friend when they are feeling pitiful, and gives them something to chase at the park. So I put up with him.
What is the Mormon view on our four legged/winged/reptilian friends? I can't help but think of President Kimball's words in 1978: "And not less with reference to the killing of innocent birds is the wildlife of our country that live upon the vermin that are indeed enemies to the farmer and to mankind. It is not only wicked to destroy them, it is a shame, in my opinion. I think that this principle should extend not only to the bird life but to the life of all animals. For that purpose I read the scripture where the Lord gave us all the animals. Seemingly, he thought it was important that all these animals be on the earth for our use and encouragement." ((Fundamental Principles to Ponder and Live By, Priesthood session, October 1978 conference) This is a great talk with all sorts of little sections that can yield a year's worth of FHE nights probably).
The Kid asked me recently, after a primary lesson regarding the plan of salvation complete with excellent visual aids, about animals and heaven. I rolled my eyes, bit my tongue, and let my husband handle it. Then he was being weirdly esoteric so I stepped back in. I can't remember my exact comments but they were vague about a loving Heavenly Father and all His creations.
I don't care. But lots of people love their animals so I hope that works out for them in the afterlife. What are your thoughts about your non-human friends and their part in the eternities? Or do you simply hope animals are around to be eaten?
Eliana Osborn was raised on cold weather and wild animals in Anchorage, Alaska, setting the stage for her adult life in the Sunniest Place on Earth in Arizona. She grew up in the church and didn't know there were places where conformity was preached. She has a degrees. She writes. She teaches. She has some kids. She even has a husband. She's trying to do her best.
Image credit: Justin Snow (used with permission).