The little lady, like most children her age, is intensely curious about the world. Her favorite word, by far, is “why”. One of the first things she questioned was why we always had new dogs in the house.
We explained that the dogs didn’t have a home yet, and in order for them to have enough time to find one, we had to save them. We didn’t specifically explain euthanasia or what it meant, but she’s a smart kid, she could read between the lines.
After about a year, she began to formulate the thoughts behind what she already knew. “Why did we save ____” was a regular question. The answer comes naturally to me. Every life on earth matters. We have a responsibility to those who are unable to control their fate, we help when it is possible for us to do so.
This morning I had a bit of a revelation. I, very much, have been saying one thing and doing something completely different.
For anyone who has not experienced a litter of young puppies, they are extremely messy. Inevitably they attract a fair amount flies. Until this morning, I had never considered the message I was sending by ruthlessly swatting them when LL was around. “You are being silly”, you say? Let’s examine my thoughts for a moment.
Flies(and every other living thing on the planet) are not “lesser” beings. They are exactly as complicated and evolved as you and I. They are tiny because it maximizes their species chance for survival. So arguing that “it’s just a fly”, objectively doesn’t really hold water.
“They are pests, carry diseases, are gross, etc” I could get on board with this argument, except for one major flaw that I can see. That is, some of the dogs that we foster are disgusting when they get here. Mange is gross, it looks terrible, and smells even worse. If I accepted the argument for flies, then I would have to accept it for dogs, which, obviously, I do not.
After thinking about this dilemma for awhile, I realized that I already do “the right thing” with almost every single other form of life that we encounter. I save frogs in the yard all the time. Other bugs that happen to make their way into the house(we live in Florida so this is, unfortunately, inevitable) get relocated instead of killed. I even go so far as to explain how nature works and why humans are different. Sully is a notorious murderer of the tiny lizards that are everywhere down here. He often leaves his quarry in conspicuous places for us to find. The LL will ask me “did Sully kill that lizard?”. I explain that he did because it is his instinct to do so. I tell her that we are different because we have the ability to understand the precious nature of life, and because of that understanding, we have a responsibility to preserve life whenever we can.
I doubt she actually understands what any of that means. But, she will one day.
So that leaves me in a bit of a conundrum. I will teach the little lady that life is precious, beautiful, and should be preserved if it is, at all, possible. But I also have to get rid of the flies in the house. I don’t know how to do this without actually killing them. Is there such a thing as a humane fly trap?
Again, this may seem silly to some of my readers, I understand. But I also know that teaching a child is not about just using lip service. My actions are the major catalyst for her learning. So what am I to do?