After an unfortunate event with our cat missing his litter box, I somehow got around to thinking about animals and the role they play in our lives. There seem to be two extreme types of animal people: those who think that their pets are actually human and fully cognizant of what's going on around them, and those who have no use for animals and think that they are dumb creatures, only useful to supply food, entertainment, whatever. I like to think I'm somewhere in the middle, although Adam might argue that the number of pictures I take of our cat supplies evidence to the contrary.
What got me thinking about animals in the first place a few weeks ago was an article in the Globe that Adam pointed out to me about 'seizure dogs'. These are dogs which help in the case of a human's seizure, and some can predict when a person is about to experience a seizure, and they behave as trained so the person knows that this is about to happen. Fascinating. There seems to be some kind of human / animal connection beyond what seems reasonable to most people, and I think it's very interesting. People have been saying for a long time that spending time with animals will help lower blood pressure and provide other health benefits. This seems like something worth investigating.
In relation to animals, I've also been thinking about books with animal characters and people's reaction to them. Take The Chronicles of Narnia, for example. It's rife with talking beasts (intelligent, thinking (and talking) animals. Hundreds of other books also have this anthropomorphic element to them. Maybe this idea is so popular because it makes it almost plausible that somewhere, there actually could be talking beasts. And even though our experience suggests otherwise, that still doesn't eliminate the possibility that they could exist somewhere. It's the lottery mentality - even though I haven't won, doesn't mean it couldn't happen. And discovering the ways that animals help humans as the seizure dogs do continues the discussion.