A writing assignment: want to be an animal?

            Even though the Lord created the critters, and even though they were somehow saved by marching two by two onto a boat built in the desert, I have no wish to follow in their footsteps.

            My first task as a farm boy was to take a pail filled with the most vile smelling fermented food scraps up the hill to slop the hogs.

            Of course, you had to wade through equally foul smelling byproducts of animal waste in the barnyard en route to the pig pen.

            Milking cows by hand did nothing to enhance my wish to be an animal who spent the day eating grass and cluttering up the field and then mess up a perfectly clean milking station in the barn. And not once did those critters volunteer to clean up their yucky mess.

            Horses were prized workers who pulled a plow and dragged me across fields during the day, but I found no redeeming urge to become a four-legged beast of burden dressed in leather and lathered in sweat.

            Sheep are cute, but dirty. Real dirty, especially after being dumped in a tank of vile-smelling stuff called “sheep dip,” which is concocted to kill lice and other creepies and crawlies. And I’m too embarrassed to describe the surgical process of castrating male lambs.

            Frankly, I wasn’t much impressed with the exhibits I observed prowling around zoos during my lifetime. Why would anyone want to be more of a monkey than most human forms, especially if you spend all your time scratching fleas behind bars?

            I thought I might like to be a rabbit when I was a toddler. You know those cute, cuddly stories about Peter Rabbit and how he grew. What they didn’t tell you was how Peter chewed on lettuce I planted in our garden. At that point, rabbits became fair game for target practice with my trusty .22 rifle.

            I suspect you could discover some redeeming quality in an animal, one that would catch my attention. A T-bone steak for example. Except when I begin to smell the meat sizzling on a grill, I remember how we always butchered a prize steer during the fall. You shot the beast between the eyes, bled the carcass and hung it from a tree limb, cut the hide away, stripped out the guts and began cutting steaks, roasts, ribs, etc. amid a cloud of buzzing flies.

            As the poet might say:

            You may choose to be a dog, a cat, a rabbit or a rat.

            As for me, I really don’t care to be an animal like that.

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