Looking at the lions laying quietly together or sleeping in the heat side by side, I thought about the phrase I had heard over and over again: “Lions are like dogs and tigers are like cats.” I thought about the dogs who have been the great four-footed companions throughout my life.
Precious Mr. Patches, a Jack Russell terrier rescue, loved the sunshine and me more than anything. Buddy, Rags and Thunder, different dogs who spanned the years, all had been far more content to be positioned beside me on the floor than to be running down the beach chasing seagulls (even though they all loved chasing seagulls!) Being by my side definitely came first. Any one of those dogs would have given its life in an instant to save mine.
And then there were the cats, the most recent being Mia and Keira, the two young feline rescues I’d left at home. I had already taken to calling them “The Little Lions” so as not to hurt their feelings with all the “Lion Talk” preparing for this rescue. I realized now that they were definitely far more “Little Tigers” than lions. They’re loving and dear but always choosing mischief over affection, ever watchful and eager to play in a heart-beat.
Mr. Spenser and Molly who came before them were our feline guardians. They were something else entirely. Pure Spirits. Guardians. Companions on the Journey.
Something deep within my heart and mind began to open: The rescued wild lions and tigers here, as well as the dogs and the cats who had shared my life, were so much more than I had thought they were. I always knew they were special but now I felt it in a whole new way that I couldn’t quite articulate. There was something tangible and loving and deeply sacred and transformational about each of them.
Being here in the ADI Temporary Rescue Center where the well-being of the animals was more important than anything else, enabled me to begin to slip into their world, to allow myself to experience who they were in their own right, in their own families, in their own relationships and what they needed and sought with one another and with me. Honesty. Kindness. Trustworthiness. Respect.
I began to experience being part of a web of life that interconnects plants, animals, and all life forces including the Earth Herself. I felt connected at a depth that was stunning, where I knew that what we do to and with every other being and force on this planet matters.
Lions and tigers are different and so is every being from every other and yet, through the web of life, we are joined, all ultimately seeking the same things.