Are Pets Good for Mankind?
Pets Are Good for You
The basic meaning of "pet" is an animal we
keep for emotional rather than economic reasons. A pet animal is kept as a
companion, and we all need companions to keep us feeling happy. But pets
offer us more than mere companionship; they invite us to love and be
loved. Many owners feel their pets understand them, for animals are quick
to sense anger and sorrow. Often a cat or dog can comfort us at times when
human words don't help. We feel loved, too, by the way pets depend on us
for a home, for food and drink. Dogs especially, look up to their owners,
which makes them feel important and needed.
A pet can be something different to each member of the
family, another baby to the mother, a sister or brother to an only child,
a grandchild to the elderly, but for all of us pets provide pleasure and
companionship. It has even been suggested
that tiny pets should be sent as companions to astronauts on space ships,
to help reduce the stress and loneliness of space flights.
In this Plastic Age, when most of us live in large
cities, pets are particularly important for children. A pet in the family
keeps people in touch with the more natural, animal world. Seeing an
animal give birth brings understanding of the naturalness of childbirth,
and seeing a pet die helps a child to cope with sorrow. Learning to care
for a pet helps a child to grow up into a loving adult who feels
responsible towards those dependent on him. Rightly we teach children to
be good to their pets. They should learn, too, that pets are good for us
II . Read
Read the following passages. Underline the important
viewpoints while reading.
1. An Unmatchable Cat
I was sick that winter. It was inconvenient because my
big room was due to be whitewashed. I was put in the little room at the
end of the house. The house, nearly but not quite on the top of the hill,
always seemed as if it might slide off into the corn fields below. This
tiny room had a door, always open, and windows, always open, in spite of
the windy cold of a July whose skies were an unending light clear blue.
The sky, full of sunshine; the fields, sunlit.
But cold, very
cold. The cat, a bluish grey Persian, arrived purring on my bed, and
settled down to share my sickness, my food, my pillow, my sleep. When I
woke in the mornings my face turned to half-frozen sheets; the outside of
the fur blanket on the bed was cold; the smell of fresh whitewash from
next door was cold and clean; the wind lifting and laying the dust outside
the door was cold-but in the curve of my arm, a light purring warmth, the
cat, my friend.
At the back of the house a wooden tub was set into the
earth, outside the bathroom, to catch the bathwater. No pipes carrying
water to taps on that farm; water was fetched by ox-drawn cart when it was
needed, from the well about two miles away. Through the months of the dry
season the only water for the garden was the dirty bathwater. The cat fell
into this tub when it was full of hot water.
screamed, was pulled out into a cold wind, washed in permanganate, for the
tub was filthy, and held leaves and dust as well as soapy water, was dried
and put into my bed to warm. But she grew burning hot with fever. She had
pneumonia. We gave her what medicine we had in the house, but that was
before antibiotics, and so she died. For a week she lay in my arm purring,
purring,in a rough, trembling little voice that became weaker, then was
licked my hand,
opened huge green eyes when I called her name and begged her to live;
closed them, died, and was thrown into the deep old well-over a hundred
feet deep it was-which had gone dry, because the underground water streams
had changed their course one year.
That was it. Never again. And for years I matched cats
in friends' houses, cats in shops, cats on farms, cats in the street, cats
on walls, cats in memory, with that gentle, blue-grey purring creature
which for me was the cat, the Cat, never to be replaced.
And besides, for some years my life did not include
extras, unnecessaries, ornaments. Cats had no place in an existence spent
always moving from place to place, room to room. A cat needs a place as
much as it needs a person to make its own.
And so it was not until twenty-five years later my life
had room for a cat.
2. Mother Pays More Attention to
Pet Dog Than to Her Young Boy
Dear Ann I.anders: I hope you will publish your answer
to this letter because there is a family out there that needs help-fast!
My friend (I'll call her Krista) married a nice guy in
1978. He's a sales rep on the read most of the time. Krista and Cal had a
son five years ago. A nice family unit. About a month after Junior was
born, Cal gave Krista a purebred beagle. She went crazy about
the dog and treated him better than the baby.
When Junior was old enough to crawl, he began to pull
the dog's tail and hit him when he thought nobody was looking.
Two months ago, Junior began urinating in unexpected
and inappropriate places. First, into his mother's shoe, then in her
purse, next her jewel box. After he was punished for ruining the jewel
box, he found some scissors and cut his mother's string of pearls.
At first Krista attributed the urinating to Junior's
laziness. I told her if it were laziness, he would just wet his pants and
not seek special places.
Last Christmas Day, it snowed heavily. I called Krista
to chat. She sounded breathless. I asked her what she had been doing.
"I've been playing outside in the snow with the dog," was her
reply. I asked where Junior was. She replied, "Upstairs, watching
television, I guess." What do you see here, Ann'? Sign me-A Worried
3. Dogs Have a Sense of Humour
The question of whether dogs have a sense of humour is
often fiercely argued. My own opinion is that some have and some haven't.
Dachshunds have, but not'St Bernards or Great Danes. Apparently a dog has
to be small to be fond of joke. You never find a Great Dane trying to be a
But it is fatal to let any dog know that he is funny,
for he immediately loses his head and starts overdoing it. As an` example
of this I would point to Rudolph, a dachshund I once owned, whose slogan
was "Anything for a I.augh". Dachshunds are always the worst
offenders in this respect because of their peculiar shape. It is only
natural that when a dog finds that his mere appearance makes the viewing
public laugh, he should imagine that Nature intended him to be a comedian.
I had a cottage at t.he time outside an English
village,not far from a farm.where they kept ducks, and one day the farmer
called on me to say his ducks were disappearing and suspicion had fallen
on my Rudolph. Why? I asked, and he said because mine was the only dog in
the neighbourhood except his own Towser, and Towser had been so carefully
trained that he would not touch a duck if you brought it to him with
orange sauce over it.
I was very annoyed. I said he only had to gaze intp
Rudolph's truthful brown eyes to see how baseless were his suspicions. Had
he not, I asked, heard of foxes? How much more likely that a fox was the
Bad Guy in the story. He was beginning to look doubtful and seemed about
to make an apology, when Rudolph, who had been listening with the greatest
interest and at a certain point had left the room, came trotting in with a
duck in his mouth.
Yes, dachshunds overplay their sense of humour, and I
suppose other dogs have their faults, but they seem unimportant compared
with their virtues.
4. Man and Animal
In ancient Egypt, people believed that the cat was a
god. When a cat died its owners showed their sadness by the strange habit
of shaving their eyebrows off( More recently, in the last century in fact,
the famous English writer Charles Dickens had a cat who was very fond of
him. The cat didn't like to see Dickens working too hard. At night, when
the cat wanted to say "Stop writingl" to his master, he often
put out Dickens' candle with his paw!
When animals become pets, the result, after a number of
generations, is a smaller animal with a smaller brain. Rabbits, for
example, which live as pets in a garden, are much less intelligent than
their wild cousins. Of course, man doesn't always keep animals for
pleasure. Many animals have to work for their masters.
There was once a farm in Namibia, Africa, which had 80
goats. Instead of a goatherd, there was a female baboon. She took her
goats to the hills every day and brought them back at night. She always
knew exactly which goats were hers-which is more than many humans could
5. Do Animals Communicate?
When we think of communication, we normally think of
using words-talking face-to-face, writing messages and so on. But in fact
we communicate far more in other ways. Our eyes and facial expressions
usually tell the truth even when our words do not.
Then there are gestures, often unconscious: raising the
eyebrows, rubbing the nose, shrugging the shoulders, tapping the fingers,
noddin and shaking the head.
There is also the
even more subtle "bodylanguage" language"of posture: are
you sitting-or standing-with arms or legs crossed? Is that person standing
with hands in pockets, held in front of the body or hidden behind ? Even
the way we dress and the colours we wear communicate things to others.
So, do animals communicate? Not in words, although a
parrot might be trained to repeat words and phrases which it doesn,t
understand. But, as we have learnt, there is more to communication than
Take dogs for example. They bare their teeth to warn,
wag their tails to welcome and stand firm, with hair erect, to challenge.
These signals are surely the cani ne equivalent of the human body-language
of facial expression, gesture and posture.
Colour can be an important means of communication for
animals. Many birds and fish change colour, for example, to attract
partners during the mating season. And mating itself is commonly preceded
by a special dance in which both partners participate.
6. She's All for the Birdsl
Twice a week, 58-year-old Mrs. Winifred Cass shops in
the market for her main supplies, "topping up" daily by calling
at local shops on her way home from work. But she,s not
buying family groceries!
She returns home laden with heavy bags of mixed hen
corn, pigeon corn, peanuts and large p ackets of bird food to feed her
larger "family", the wild birds of I,eeds. And she's been doing
this for 16 years.
Daily, she feeds the birds which frequent her garden,
the area around the shop where she works part-time, and several pa tches
of waste-ground near her home. Then, twice every week, she ioads the
carrying basket with bags of grain on to her tricycle and sets out to
pedal the 20-min!ate ride up to rthe city centre.
"In the morning, birds on my own roof at home hang
almost upsidedown trying to see me through the windows." She laughed.
"In severe conditions last winter, I had as many as four robins in my
garden at the same time, though they're well known to be territorial
"It's amazing how many different kinds of birds I
see in the city itself . In Park Square, as well as the usual starlings,
pigeons and sparrows, there are blue tits, great tits, thrushes, doves,
and sometimes even seagulls."
It all started when Winifred was working at a cafe. She
used to throw out stale bread and buns, and developed such an interest in
the wild birds which accepted her offerings that she started taking food
along to those in City Square as well.
On one occasion, an old lady sitting in the square
remarked that the birds could do with a more nutritious diet. So Winifred
began buying corn for them.
"In the end, I was carrying so much weight and
tramping so far that my feet and arms really ached, ?she said. "I
tried using wheeled shoppers, but with the weight of all that corn they
were breaking within weeksl So I splashed out and bought this
Winifred has come across other wild-life on her
travels, too. "I stop to feed families of hedgehogs which I found at
the side of the railway near the park," she said.
Despite her love of birds, she'd never want to keep one
because she can't bear seeing them caged.
Disaster struck recently when a car reversed into her
parked trike, damaging its wheels. But two local business men, hearing of
her activities, decided kindly to help by replacing the wheels for her.
So now the "Bird Woman of Leeds" is back in
action again, doing the job she loves best-caring for the host of
feathered friends who have come to rely on her.
7. Too Many Pets in France
In France a campaign has been launched to warn against
the danger of a threatening over-population . . . of petsl The country is
the second most densely populated country in the world as far as domestic
animals are concerned. At the moment it is inhabited by more than 8%
million dogs and almost as many cats. Every second family in Paris owns
one or more pets, which cause problems of hygiene that cannot be solved.
In the year 2000 France will have more than 15 million dogs if no drastic
measures are taken to stop this increase.
The French organization for the protection of animals
has appealed to the owners to have their dogs and cats of both sexes
sterilized, because the animals themselves are in danger of becoming the
first victims. Every summer, when the holiday-exodus begins, thousands of
dogs and cats are abandoned, because their owners, unable to take them
along, do not want to or cannot find homes where their pets will be looked
after during their absence. Only one of three of these stray animals can
be adopted, the other two must be killed.
A great number of pet-owners, however, object to
sterilization on grounds of "inadmissable cruelty".
8. Pets Eat Better Than Peoplel
"My mouth watered as I imagined the lovely soup I
could make from some bones in the butcher's window. There was a lot of
meat on them, too. So I went in and bought some. `Certainly, one pound of
bones for your dog, madam,' said the butcher brightly. My next stop was at
the fish shop, where I asked for some cheap fish. 'For your cat?, asked
the assistant. As you may have guessed, neither bones nor fish were for
pets-they were for me, a pensioner. But it made me think that many animals
eat better meals than peoplel"
9. A Birthday Present for a Dog!
"We have a friend who works in a Dog Parlour where
they sell coats for dogs. A customer, choosing a coat, tried to describe
her dog and the saleswoman suggested she bring the dog in so that they
could fit him. Horrified, the customer replied that she couldn't do that
as it was for the dog's birthday present and she didn't want him to see