All things deserve attention, affection

Last Thursday, my calendar saying was very appropriate: “I love all of the animals in my life and give them the attention and affection they need.”
It was especially suitable for last week because we had a very special house guest. “Baron,” my nephew’s Labradoodle, stayed with us while his family was at a cabin in the Rocky Mountains.
The Labradoodle is a recent breed, developed in the 1980s for people who needed service dogs and had family members with allergies. As the name suggests, it is a cross between a poodle and a Labrador retriever.
This is the perfect combination–the low-shedding coat and intelligence of the poodle and the gentleness and trainability of the Lab.
Wikipedia says that both breeds are among the world’s most intelligent dogs.
“Baron” surely lives up to his breed. He is 80 pounds of intelligence, energy, and gentleness.
He also is the most polite dog I have ever met. His behaviour is impeccable—unless he is snuggled in my La-Z-Boy when I want to sit down and read.
And I don’t even mind that!
It’s easy to love “Baron” and my own sweet “Amber,” but the problem is, like people, every dog needs “attention and affection.”
It seems we never hear much about Albert Schweitzer, the great philosopher, writer, organist, theologian, and missionary doctor, any more. Yet Schweitzer (1875-1965) was one of the greatest men in recent history.
When I was in my mid-20s, he was in his prime and he was one of my heroes—mostly because of his beliefs about the sacredness of all forms of life.
Schweitzer’s reverence for life first gripped me in the 1950s when I was struggling with my own philosophy of living. He truly believed that life is a continuum and he never took a life unnecessarily, not even that of a spider.
In 1936, Schweitzer published an article titled “The Ethics of Reverence for Life,” an article that was reprinted in the 1962 book, “The Ethical Mysticism of Albert Schweitzer” by Henry Clark.
“Reverence for life is a universal ethic,” says Schweitzer in this historic article, and “a universal ethic has great spiritual significance.”
Schweitzer illustrates the point with several stories. One of the stories follows.
In a park in Scotland, a flock of geese landed on a pond to rest and an unthinking gardener clipped the wings of one of the geese.
When it was time for the flock to take off, the mutilated bird couldn’t fly. The others saw his struggles and flew about in an effort to encourage him; but it was no use.
Then, the gardener saw the whole flock settle back on the pond and wait for their injured member. They waited until the damaged feathers had grown enough to permit the goose to fly.
“Meanwhile,” says Schweitzer, “the ‘unethical’ gardener, having been converted by the ‘ethical’ geese, gladly watched them as they finally rose together and all resumed their long flight.”
So if you want to be ethical, always remember that reverence for life has great spiritual significance.
Try to treat all living things with the attention and affection they need and deserve.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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