Animals can be utterly amazing creatures, especially when they are interacting with people in what seem like unlikely ways. Many inspiring stories of animal kindness towards people can be found in Random Acts of Kindness by Animals, by Stephanie LaLans. Here are three that just take my breath away:
James Wentworth Day, the wildlife writer, related this incident that was described to him by Commander David Blunt, who held the title of Cultivation Protector of Tanganyika. An African woman had placed her baby in the shade of a tree while she worked.
An elephant herd strolled by and saw the baby. Several of the elephants pulled leafy branches from the tree and covered the sleeping babe with them. Flies can be a problem in this part of Africa and the branches protected the infant from the flies.
The elephants were so gentle and quiet about this that they did not even wake the baby. The elephants then departed.
I will remember what I wasI am sick of rope and chain.
I will remember my old strength
And all of my forest affairs.
I will not sell my back to man
For a bundle of sugar-cane.
I will go out to my own kind
And the wood-folk in their lairs.
I will go out until the day.
Until the morning break,
Out to the winds’ untainted kiss,
The water ‘s clean caress.
I will forget my ankle-ring
And snap my picket-stake.
I will revisit my lost loves
And playmates, masterless.
–Rudyard Kipling, “The Captive’s Dream”
Do you believe a cat can psychically sense a human’s distress? The English magazine Tomorrow offers this story: Bill the cat stayed home while his human was away on a trip. But the man was injured in a railway accident and died a few days later in a hospital.
At the burial, the man’s brother was shocked to see Bill in attendance. The faithful cat had journeyed to the distant hospital grave site, looked down upon the coffin, and then sadly returned home.
“We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices of the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man-all belong to the same family.”
ROBIN RED BREAST
When Anne Marie Schilling’s children adopted an injured red-breasted robin, she never expected that it would remain with them as their devoted friend.
Many times she tried to return the bird to the wild, but it was devoted to the young boy and girl who had saved it. The woman relented to their pleadings to allow the bird to accompany the three on a long car-trailer trip, planning to get rid of the bird when they returned home. But the bird’s heroism changed all that.
One night while Anne and her two children were asleep in the bunks of their trailer, the bird suddenly began shrieking. He landed by Anne’s ear, shrilled, then flew furiously to the front of the trailer. When Anne got up, she realized what had alarmed the bird: A large idling tractor-trailer rig had pulled up next to their trailer so that rig’s vertical exhaust pipe was spewing its fumes into an open window–and it was asphyxiating them! The driver was nowhere to be found. She closed the window, aired out her trailer and, with the robin’s help, aroused her children from their potentially deadly sleep.
The next day the family drove along a country road with the bird singing along with the radio, something he loved to do. Suddenly he became perturbed and flew madly around the inside of the car. Anne stopped the car. The robin flew out the car window, around the trailer, and back. The woman started to scold the bird–who chirped sadly at this undeserved punishment–but just then her children called, “Mother, come quick.” She found that the trailer hitch had broken; had they continued driving down the road it would have meant disaster.
While waiting for repairs, the local mechanic was amazed by the robin’s playfulness, devotion to his humans, and heroic deeds. The mechanic offered to buy the bird.
“Not for all the money in the world,” Anne replied.
A Robin red breast in a cage
Puts all of heaven in a rage.
Adapted fromRandom Acts of Kindness by Animals by Stephanie LaLand (Conari Press, 2008).
Please send us your stories of animal kindness to humans!