Marc Bekoff who arranged for this interview with Caitlin says "Take a seat.
Caitlin is only 14 years old. There IS much hope for us!
Do animals have souls?
There is no question as to whether or not animals have souls, - we know they do. What we must sometimes question is whether or not humans have souls. How can we be so shallow as to automatically think man has a soul when he is not truly in "touch" with the earth. Man constantly isolates himself from Mother Earth. We clothe ourselves from head to foot, and become disconnected with the earth and nature. Animals, on the other hand, are so connected to the earth, the sky, the water and all of its elements. When a wolf walks on the soil of Mother Earth, he feels every part of it through his paws. He takes in all the beauty and surroundings. When the wolf lifts his head to harmonize with the moon, he throws back his head, closes his eyes and feels the wind rustle through his fur. He can sense the chill in the air with his heart, and immediately knows when his pack, his family, needs him. All living things don't have souls, but all of Mother Earth's true children, - the animals,- do. Unlike man, they are one with the earth. They have not allowed themselves to become desensitized by technology. They do not need cell phones, computers and beepers to communicate with one another. They speak a language of the soul that allows them to "connect" with another on levels we could not even begin to comprehend. They don't allow CD players, television sitcoms, or top-ten videos to interfere with the importance of touch and connecting with the true mirrors of the soul, - the eyes. As a result of the unique bond all animals have with the earth, and their ability to remain disassociated with the technological world, Mother Earth's true children still possess their souls, and will continue to persevere while man seems destined to destroy himself.
How does our relationship with and our treatment of animals relate to our own spirituality and unfoldment as human beings?
Our true connection with Mother Earth can only come as a result of our "oneness" with all her creatures. If man is unable to, or refuses to become one with all animals, be it through respect, support or physical touch, he will rob his spirit of the beauty that comes from being connected with, and mutually respected by, all creatures great and small. He will leave this world with an aching in his heart, and an emptiness in his spirit that can only be healed if he one day returns to earth, and somehow makes amends.
What do you see that we can do to enhance the spiritual lives of our animal companions and other animals?
We learn to love or hate, to be accepting or neglecting, to be sensitive or uncaring from those around us. Unlike the creatures of this earth that learn from instinct, we learn from what we are told. As a result of this, we must begin at an early age to inform children of the vital connection between man and beast and Mother Earth. If they understand, even before they begin to walk, that all of life must be respected, and that the earth they will soon journey on is sacred, they will appreciate the delicate balance between man, beast and Mother Earth. With each new step a child takes, he or she must be reminded of this special connection, and must truly understand that with the absence of one,- all will then perish!
What can be done to expand the awareness of people to include animals as spiritual beings? In order to increase people's awareness of the incredible beauty and spirituality of all animals we must educate the children of today, and awaken in them the inner-voice that will speak out and champion animals' rights.
Four years ago Dr. Jane Goodall's Roots and Shoots program awakened my inner-voice, and since that day I have been the voice for those who could not speak the language of man. As a result of Roots and Shoots I have made countless people aware of animal testing, and organized boycotts of Procter and Gamble and other companies that abuse animal rights. Roots and Shoots educates the minds and hearts of children across this globe, and awakens in them the spiritual connection between man, beast and Mother Earth. The wisdom of Dr. Jane has given my life purpose, my heart depth, and my sprit wings on which to soar to incredible heights like the little wren on the great eagle's back.
Would you comment on your relationship with the animals in your care? What have they given you? What have you given them?
In my life I have two very special and important spirits. First is my mom, - my saint, my guiding light, and then there's my best friend, - my dog. Seven years ago my life changed. A shooting star fell out of the sky, and filled my life with magic. My best friend, my dog, Sugar, came into my life. I can truly say that since day one, our hearts have beat in unison. A universal force that nothing can break connects us. Although we do not speak the same language, we hear with out hearts. Without my dog, I am incomplete. I feel emptiness around me, and a hallowness within. It is amazing how one little dog has taught me so much through unconditional love and acceptance. This dog is the star in my darkness. She is my hero who has never let me down. She is my greatest teacher, and has taught me incredible lessons of love. Every moment we share together is filled with magic. We have played catch, basketball and soccer. We have laid together in silence and watched the clouds take shape in the sky. We have rested on the beach, and watched the sun set as strings of stars have sparkled like Christmas lights against a red sky. We have laid by the fire, our skin and fur becoming one.
Over the years, Sugar has given me back my "soul". She has awakened my heart to the beauty of this earth, and together we have shared with each other life's greatest gift, - LOVE. Countless times Sugar has healed my broken heart from loneliness, and alienation. She was there by my side when my parents would argue and quarrel. She was there when someone I loved dearly passed away. Sugar has always been there to kiss away my tears, and touch the depths of my heart with love.
In Antoine de Saint Exupery's book The Little Prince; the fox shares his wisdom with the prince. "Goodbye," Said the fox, "and now here is my secret, a very simple secret. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye." Sugar, my "soulmate", lives by this simple secret. As with all other creatures, she sees the world with the eyes of her heart. As a result of this she loves unconditionally. One needs only to look into her eyes, - the mirrors to her soul, - to know that she was sent here to love, to guide, and to heal those in her care.