From landing on his tiny head (and fracturing his wee skull), Leo Tolstoy has certainly landed on his feet.
Lying almost lifeless in the gutter outside an abattoir, he landed in the heart of the kind soul who found him and ensured he found sanctuary at Edgar’s Mission.
With his head healed and the legacy of his tragic past now behind him, Leo sets out daily to live his best life and in doing so reminds us to do also.
In recognising the ability of animals to experience the ups and downs of life with their unique personalities, we have a rare opportunity to sneak beneath the curtain into their world.
For Leo, we see his ability to learn when he returns repeatedly to the Lady in the Hat’s back door, tapping on it for a treat. Once his tapping has been reciprocated with the said treat, dear Leo can barely contain his glee before he sets off on his next adventure.
And Leo too shows frustration as the words, “No, Leo,” are heard as the feed room door is gently shut to prevent his entry, determinedly striking the door with his hoof.
We see reason too, as Leo establishes, “Well, that didn’t work,” and off he sets for yet another adventure.
And we see moments of sheer euphoria as Leo’s back leg is rubbed in his most favourite of spots. His eyes gently close, his face points skyward and he places his back legs a little further apart, drinking in the moment.
There is no doubt that our animal friends experience the world through their unique and emotional lens.
Treating animals as mere automatons is not only disingenuous to them but short-sighted of us. For what we do to animals, in hardening our hearts to their suffering, we shall do to ourselves.
Their future and ours depends on our ability to see beyond form and without favour, that every being who treads, flies, swims and squirms upon this earth, and even taps on your back door, wants to live. And so, we need to ask ourselves, what compelling reason do we have for not allowing them to do so?
For the love of all animals, humans included, we need to heed this cry.
Far from mindless followers, sheep are highly social with sophisticated emotional skills that can recognise human and animal faces.
Research increasingly suggests that sheep can form images in their brain of absent individuals (such as their babies) when they are not visible, just as humans would think about a friend or family member that they miss.
In Australia alone, often born in the most inhospitable conditions of winter, an estimated 10-15 million lambs die annually due to exposure and other preventable causes.
Adequate shelter can greatly prevent this, but sadly this is not a legal requirement in Australia.
You Can Help
The simplest way to help sheep like Leo Tolstoy is to leave them off your plate. And with so many delicious alternatives to lamb these days, it’s never been easier!
When you make the pledge for Be Kind to Animals Week, you’ll get a free Kindness Kit and delicious plant-based recipes to help get you started.
Because no matter what animals look like, they all need and deserve kindness.