Thoughts and Reflections: Remembering Mom’s Love for Animals

By Richard Mabey Jr.


From the time that I was a little boy till just a few days before her passing, my Mom showed a most endearing and affectionate love for animals. Over the years, we had seven dogs: a German shepherd, a beagle, a collie, and four Shetland sheep dogs. Over the years, we had dozens of cats.


I was four years old when I got my first dog. She was a German shepherd named Penny. Mom taught me to be very disciplined to feed the puppy twice a day and to give her fresh water at least three times a day. I couldn’t really tell time then, so I developed an innate instinct as to when I felt dear, sweet Penny was hungry. It was a responsibility that I took very seriously, even at a very early age.


For about 20 years of my life, I was a vegetarian. Sadly, I got very ill at one point and my doctor insisted that I at least eat fish in my diet. I do now eat some meat, but very little. But it was from my mom teaching me to love and respect animals, from a very early age, that really inspired to be a vegetarian all those years.


Mom wanted me to earn the First Aid to Animals Merit Badge. I was in freshman year of high school and I was focused on earning the Swimming Merit Badge, which was required to become an Eagle Scout. At the time, there wasn’t a Merit Badge Counselor for the First Aid to Animals Merit Badge. Mom had once asked our veterinarian if he would consider being a Merit Badge Counselor. He told Mom that he would fill out the application, but sadly, he never did. To this day, I regret not having earned the First Aid to Animals Merit Badge.


It’s funny, throughout all of my schooling, nobody ever taught me the basics of first aid for animals. Now, at 67, I find myself studying the basics of first aid for animals. I think that my mom is inspiring me from Heaven’s Gate to take a more responsible outlook to care for animals.


I guess it was when I was about 15 years old that two of my dad’s brothers wanted me to come along with them on a deer hunting expedition. I always loved hiking and camping in the woods, so it seemed liked a good idea to go with them. I remember my mom kindly, gently asked me not to go on that hunting trip with my two uncles. She told me that she never wanted to see me find happiness in killing a deer. I never did go on any deer hunting expeditions with my two uncles. I respect hunters. I truly do. But, hunting just wasn’t in the cards for me.


If you are without a pet, maybe you have gone through the pain of losing a beloved pet and you just don’t ever want to go through that pain again. I fully understand that. I truly do. But the thing of it is that the pet shelters are just overwhelmed with dogs and cats that are longing to be adopted by someone to love and care for them. To bring love into the heart of a dog or a cat is such a noble, wonderful, and endearing gift to that dog or cat. There are no words.


Life is short. The loving spirit that flows between a person and an animal is a most wonderful thing. And, yes, there comes that time when we are faced with saying farewell to our beloved pet. But please do think of it this way, is it not better for a dog or cat to spend its remaining life in a loving home, rather than to pine away in an overcrowded animal shelter?


Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at Please reference “Thoughts and Reflections” on the subject line.

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