I have always felt a certain sadness for those who have never experienced the delight and wonder of animals.
Someone who has never shared with a puppy the abandon and sheer joy of just being alive, who has never crouched beside the bed of a mother cat and her newborn kittens, watched the daily progress of swallows building their new spring home, helped a still-damp colt take its first wobbling steps, marveled at the beauty of the great Canadian geese on their semiannual flights, spent time alone in the wild country, slept under the stars and listened to the night world of animals, known the deep, abiding love of a pet, shed tears when an old companion and friend has passed on ... for this person an important part of this world has passed him by.
For those who have shared their lives with furred, feathered, and scaled fellow dwellers on this planet, this book will tend to confirm their likely already held convictions that animals are marvelous teachers. For those who have not been so fortunate, perhaps the following pages will help to introduce them to a new adventure which is as close as the nearest pet shop or even the back yard.
Myriad are the stories of animal loyalty and devotion. We marvel that so often animals display qualities that we despair of finding in sufficient quantity in the human species. Such feelings are not entirely justified, of course, for humans have soared to some tremendous heights of being and achievement. But we are bewildered that man, capable of climbing the highest mountains, can also plunge into the most dismal of abysses. In those moments of contemplating man's state and destiny upon this globe, we sometimes imagine that only he has the ability to understand what life is all about. And the animal, on the other hand, is not plagued by doubts and imponderable questions. He is a loving, trusting, innocent child of nature who can be expected to behave in a specific manner under a certain set of conditions.
And then one day we discover that in many ways our babe in the woods is much more aware than we are of the universe in which we all live. He is less locked into a world bounded by the five senses than the general run of mankind. He is more sensitive to psychic phenomena, the presence of apparitions, disembodied spirits; he can monitor happenings hundreds of miles away, has greater pre-cognition of homecomings, tragedies, and natural and manmade calamities, and can locate a target several thousand miles distant without a trail or clue or any previous acquaintance with the route.
We imagine that animals other than ourselves are simple creatures. How, then, do we explain that a dog will kill a cat and another dog will go to great lengths to save the life of one? How do we explain why some animals will spend months, even years, seeking a lost master, and another creature of the same species cares not at all who feeds him as long as the amount is sufficient? How do we explain how a pet can know of his owner's death in another country and another pet doesn't appear to be aware even if it's happening in the next room? How would we explain the behavior of a German shepherd racing across town to protect his mistress, knowing she will be in danger, when another shepherd is oblivious from the next room?
The parallels that can be drawn are endless and the discrepancies enormous. One eventually has to assume that animals, even dogs of the same breed, are as different as people.
Those who claim to understand dogs, let them explain if they can the talents of Missie, the clairvoyant Boston terrier; the basset who protects rabbits; the dogs who came back from the dead to warn their former masters of danger; Dox, who not only trailed criminals but pieced together evidence; Duke, who chose political sides; Chips, who risked his neck to save his company from machinegun fire; Strongheart, who taught meditation; the phantom dog who protected a stranger from assault; Mr. Lucky and Blitz, who spoke human language; and the many, many other cases of something other than expected canine behavior.
Those who know all there is to know about cats are challenged to explain Timothy, who repented of his crimes; Gypsy, who understood the difference between standard and daylight savings time; cats who prophesy death; Willy, who always knew when it was Bingo night; the cat who always showed for Thursday auctions but never at other times; the cats who minimized human deaths during the London blitz by means of precognition; cats who send telepathic messages; the cat who chose to remain on his master's grave; the ghost cat of Congleton.
Many experienced horse breeders and trainers might have some difficulty explaining how the wildest and meanest of steeds would obey John Solomon Rorey within minutes; the talking horses of Elberfeld; Lady Wonder, the telepathic horse; the ghost horse of the White Mountains; the phantom horses of Colorado; the horses who have refused to be given away; and the supersenses of a horse who saved a group of sick people from freezing to death.
How might any of us explain the canary who died so her mistress could live; beavers who blanketed themselves around a lost boy to keep him from freezing; the baboon who cared and worked for his crippled master; the cow who volunteered for seeing-eye duties; the bees who attended their keeper's funeral; bears who understand herbal remedies; crabs who monitor ocean tides a thousand miles from the sea; swans who traditionally fly a strange flight formation as a requiem for their dying masters; the personalized language of ravens; the cosmic clocks of migratory birds? We are taxed even further to explain the sheer genius and saintly qualities of the dolphin, the intellectual of the sea with a larger and more complex brain than our own. He challenges the very pedestal on which man proclaims his superiority.
J. Allen Boone was told by an old desert recluse that if he wanted to understand a dog, he should ask the dog. The American Indians did just that, and so today do Fred Kimball and Beatrice Lydecker, who talk to animals, and Mildred Probert's dialogue with Missie challenges us to go "to the horse's mouth." People can only give you opinions about animals, not answers, Desert Dan said.
On the following pages we hear from animals, and Indians, scientists, naturalists, psychics, trainers, and pet lovers throughout the world. Stories are told, cases cited, experiments revealed, and theories proposed.
I hope this book will encourage you to join me in my admiration and awe for the creatures large and small who are sharing this earth trip with us. The better we understand one of these fellow citizens the better we understand ourselves. Finally, this is an adventure in consciousness, lately referred to as the only game in town.