I live, therefore I love
I’m angry at Descartes. Just imagine, a guy who said, “I think, therefore I am” nonetheless proved that he “wasn’t” by claiming that animals don’t have a consciousness or feelings. Reading a book on the emotional life of animals, I took his claim as a personal offense because, as a roommate of a gentle and exceptionally intelligent being, I cannot believe how anyone at all capable of perceiving the world around them, let alone thinking critically, could make such a ludicrous statement.
It has been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and my Buckley has the most beautiful brown eyes. We’ve been through a lot in five years—we’ve been to the sea, mountain climbing, visited the Museum of Broken Relationships and many others, protested for animal rights, eaten at many family gatherings, stolen Christmas tree decorations, coordinated volunteers at the ZeGeVege Festival, lazed about in Krivi Put. A couple of times we’ve hung out with curious ducklings who gathered around Buckley like little babies and we’ve also met a cow who showed him her motherly love with a wet kiss, because cows are known to love patiently and quietly, like mothers. One little dog has been through so much more and shown so much more character and love than most people I know. Every morning at 6:45 when the alarm goes off, he sighs and rubs his eyes with his little paw, gets up from the foot of the bed and comes crawling to rub my nose with his, as if saying, “Hey, get up!”
We yawn in sync, go down the stairs and have coffee every morning, and when I leave for work, he presses his little paw to the windowpane with sadness in his eyes. Although he’s never alone because there are other housemates, my guilty conscience weighs heavily on my heart. In the evening, when I come home, the excited barking and running in circles make even the worst day better and the smacking of lips just before he falls asleep and occasional over-dramatic sigh if I stay up too late reading with the light on always bring a smile to my face.
Sometimes I take him to work. He hates streetcars except when he’s near the door, waiting for it to open. You see, like me, he’s a little anxious and likes to keep everything under control. He behaves most properly when we’re out on the street, except when he sees a woman in a fur coat—at those he usually barks in confusion and I get a warm and fuzzy feeling. As soon as he spots the entrance to the office, he happily takes cover from the hustle and bustle of the street, albeit the office is rarely any quieter. Then he dozes the day away and awaits the return home. A spring walk through Maksimir Park is always a good idea before sleep. When he sees our house, he breaks into a mad run and starts banging at the door to be let in as soon as possible, and then he merrily jumps onto the bed and starts rolling around making the cutest noises of contentment.
No matter the day we had, he always stays a genuine little creature with an irreplaceable personality and indescribable love. He likes cabbage and savoy cabbage and loves oranges and cherries. When I’m crying, he licks my face in distress and lifts my head with his muzzle. He waves his paws, standing on his back legs as if he were doing a Croatian folk dance when begging for food. He snores. He’s jealous and doesn’t like when somebody else hugs me, with a few exceptions. If somebody mock punches me, like in greeting, he gets defensive. He’ll kiss my nose if he’s in the mood. If he’s not, he’ll shove his head under a pillow and hide from me when I ask him for a kiss. He doesn’t like a stranger’s touch, but when he finally makes a friend, he doesn’t understand the concept of personal space. He likes to watch Inspector Rex. He plays like a puppy and his favorite toy is a stuffed toy that goes “te quiero” when he gives it a terrierish shake. He’s curious like a child. When he’s hungry, he bangs his bowl. When he’s thirsty, he tilts his head toward a bottle and licks his lips. When he’s tired but we have company, he climbs the stairs toward my room and glares at me, begging me to go to sleep. I’d like to go back to the seventeenth century and read the riot act to Descartes, because I know that every animal feels more deeply and honestly than humans and unlike us, who keep making ourselves miserable by constantly jumping from the past to the future, nonhuman animals live in the moment and are always happy for it, as opposed to us. The only place where I can find honesty and true love are the eyes of animals. It’s high time we thank them for, day in, day out, teaching us about true values and join the struggle for their rights, keeping in mind the most precious truth they have taught us: “I live, therefore I love.”