I have lived with numerous rescued animals of various species; including a Shetland pony, goat, pig, rooster, doves, horses, turtles, etc. If there is one thing I've learned about living with a multitude of species, it's that, like humans, all animals are individuals with their own unique personality. I have also lived long-term in a national forest along side those termed “free-living” animals. However, I know that they are not so free-living; as they have predators and human hunters after them. I lived alongside (on the same meadows) as bovines that were grazed on public national park lands. At first the sound of the bull next to my tent (breathing heavily and bellowing down the meadow sounding like a sonic boom), seriously scared me. However, I came to learn that they are peaceful beings. I have lived on properties considered vegan sanctuaries where no one is harmed, and therefore I have lived with animals considered "pests". I agree that they are pests and not fun to live with, but I don't agree with killing these persecuted beings. If I lived by that philosophy, I would have to kill all humans around me, who are, beyond any doubt, the biggest pest to planet Earth. This is a list of my top 10 favorite species that I have lived alongside. While some animal species have made life miserable for me (wild pigs, snakes), these animals bring a big grin to my face, and have brought me countless hours of true happiness. Most important, whether I like living with a species of animal or not, none of them is harmed or killed by me. I show a minimal standard of decency and nonviolence to all species of animals, including humans.
|Kisses and Butterflies Katz|
1) Dogs (fed vegan) – The newly emerging and evolutionary species of (rescued) dogs that are fed a plant diet - are my unparalleled favorite species. They are the easiest beings for me to love. And it seems very mutual. I not only give them equal respect to humans, but I put them on a pedestal above humans, and rightfully so. It's no coincidence that 'dog' spelled backward is god. Beside the very light from the sun, they have been the greatest gifts in my life. For decades, all my dog friends have been fed 100% vegan, successfully. There are plenty to say it can't be done, but I know first hand that they are wrong. Numerous dogs I have cared for and shared life with – for nearly their whole life – thrived on a plant-powered diet. They did as well as their carnivorous counterparts, at least. Most really lived a bit longer and better than the average dog's (sadly too short) lifespan. I never felt a truer, more count-on-able friendship than that of a dog. They really are far superior in the capacity to give loyal love. They are far advanced in their ability to relate telepathically. They communicate effectively even though they don't speak English. Living with a veganized dog is just the ultimate that life has to offer. Their friendship is/was a precious pleasure. Kisses displayed an infectious 'happy to see me–welcome home' squeal and dance that is so very much missed. Mighty – who is the definition of cute - is the only dog who has repeatedly and literally grinned at me (upon seeing me after not seeing me for awhile). Beautiful; right before my eyes, veganized remarkably from a mongoose-killing-puppy to a truly gentle dog and protector-of-rabbits. I cherish all the luxurious petting, the heavenly cozy sleeping, and the pureness - that I've experienced with these furry friends.
|(Vegan-Eating) Little Mighty - the very definition of "cute"|
2) Mule Deer – I lived closely with the beautiful Mule Deer - at 8,000 elevation in a national forest on the Utah/Arizona border - for over 2 decades. Since we came to the same spot for several decades, these forest deer learned that we not only were not going to harm them, but we were going to help them. There was a legend in the forest passed down through the generations of these Mule deer about the vegans living in the woods. We grew very close. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I had times where I felt like Saint Francis of Assisi as I was encircled by deer. I had a young buck friend that came when I called him. When hunters (who had returned to my private spot to shoot a buck) saw me with “Bambi” - they said 'We have no interest to shoot at an animal so tame!' I fed the deer from my hands and every once in awhile, a little pet of the nose, too. Sometimes they would just lay with me for hours. Going through the hunting season with them was 'hell on earth'. For 15 years, my birthday wish was to end the hunting of deer. I even spoke to hunters (with guns) while they were out hunting, on behalf of these deer. I guess that speaks of my love for them.
|Butterflies feeding a forest Mule deer|
3) Rabbits (domesticated and wild) – Though I feel delight upon seeing the cute cottontails; who run faster than Usain Bolt, I have never been able to bond with one. However, I have lived with rescued (domesticated) rabbits for 3 decades. The last one I bonded with showed me that there is really a little person living inside that soft coat. They are naturally herbivorous, and therefor a good choice of animal to care for if you are vegan. Always in need of being rescued, there seemed to be a continuous supply of rabbits that I shared life with; who either just appeared in the yard after their “owners” moved away and left them (to die) – or who were in a small rusty cage awaiting slaughter, etc. When I was a new vegan, I bought one at a farmer's market just to save her, but later learned that “buying them” is not the way as you are supporting their being bred like a commodity for human profit. Also, in my naive early years, I did a night-time liberation and opened the cage and freed many rabbits. Sadly I heard screaming in the night because dogs in the neighborhood were attacking them. I later realized that when freeing animals from exploitation, that it's essential to organize homes for those being rescued. They can't be freed into the environment. What I love most about bunny rabbits is that they seem to bring out the most gentle part of me.
|Monarch butterfly taking her first flight from my hand|
4) Monarch Butterfly – In New Zealand, I have intimately shared worlds with Monarch butterflies. I plant Milkweed for them, as well as the pollinator flowers that they like, and literally create (with nature) an ecosystem to help them thrive. They are seriously endangered. An interesting identification fact of the male Monarch butterfly is he has “balls” too...there is a black sack/dot on each lower wing. And though I draw the 'loving animals' line at no bestiality, I have to admit that I have been a voyeur of their aesthetic sexual intercourse. I protect them (by taking them inside) from wasps who kill them; as they first emerge from the chrysalis. At this stage, they are vulnerable and can't fly yet as they drip dry their wings, and the wasps know this. I have had the thrill of many newly born, intensely orange Monarchs (they fade as they age) - take their first flight from my hand. I also protect the caterpillar from birds when they are rolling themselves up to go into their cocoon for the incredible metamorphosis. My reward for helping them is living with these magnificent and ALWAYS uplifting 'someones'. They take me upwards soaring with them and placing my head and my eyes up in the sky. Their colored wings in the light is breathtaking; a reason to live. These most gentle beings have thoroughly entertained me with brilliant synchronized flying shows. My chosen name surely reflects my love for butterflies.
|Monarch butterflies mating|
5) Golden-Mantled Ground Squirrel – I met these very friendly little critters in the Kaibab forest; in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. They would eat from my hands and grab food with their adorable little hands. They were so cute when they would stuff their cheeks with the seeds that I offered them, and then run away to store the supply for the winter, when they hibernate. I would name them as we all lived in the same neighborhood, and each was an individual with unique markings. I'd have times and places where I'd go to meet up with one particular ground squirrel.
|Butterflies Katz feeding a forest ground squirrel and chipmunk|
6) Chipmunks – I also met the smaller, speedier version of the ground squirrel - chipmunks - when living in a forest near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The ground squirrels were more dominant at “feeding” times, so I had to be sure to throw directly to the chipmunks to ensure they were getting some too. Sometimes I would put my hand out with organic seeds, and both chipmunk and ground squirrel would eat together off my hand. The chipmunks had more defined markings on their coat.
|Butterflies (age 60) with wild Muscovy duck friends|
7) Muscovy Duck – When in South Florida, I live for months walking on sidewalks right alongside these ducks; unwanted by many and considered a pest. I prefer them to the humans walking around, but hey … to each his own. One time I had just landed there from a flight, and before I even fed them, this group of about 10 ducklings imprinted on me – for some mysterious reason. I could not keep them away. I was there mama, so it seemed. They knew where I lived. They came – all the time – and tapped with their beaks on the back sliding glass door. I was reported by the neighbor and got in trouble, believe it or not. They don't like having the ducks around as they poop on the sidewalks. (They do. I washed it every day.) I was forced into not feeding them, even away from the house. However before that happened, there were many years where I was able to get friendly and feed these waddling, webbed-feet birds - when they came to my back door and tapped their beak on the glass door, for some pets and food.
8) Vegan Humans – Though I am definitely not humancentric, I have to admit that some of my best moments in life were shared with vegan human friends. Camping and hiking, climbing mountains together to watch the sunset, being intertwined "in love", philosophizing, to name a few; only the human species will do when it comes to many of life's highlights. Always remember that humans are one species of the animal kingdom. Other animals are here with the human being, not for the human being to exploit. Humans, especially vegan humans, have a captivating intellect that I have enjoyed immensely. It took the human consciousness to invent the concept called 'veganism'.
9) Hummingbirds – Also, living in a forest on a mountaintop in the western U.S.A., I marveled at hummingbirds coming to the (red) Indian Paint Brush wildflower. So fast. So delicate. So beautiful. I would just lay in a field of wildflowers and wait to see hovering hummingbirds; acrobats suspended in air.
|Paradise Ducks (females have a white head)|