For a variety of reasons, I tend to be fond of small woodland animals, as part of my general fondness for that which I consider small and innocent and cute. As my job requires a fair amoung of driving, sometimes (like today) I end up driving around in the countryside when faced with curious animals who try to find their way underneath the car ties. Being an alert person, at least most of the time, I do my best to avoid hitting the animals and I have succeeded (I can’t remember the last time I ever hit an animal on the road).
I often wonder what a squirrel (or other small animal) processes when it has a traumatic near-death experience when faced with a vehicle on the road. I know how I tend to react to such situations, and the long-term effects of trauma happening over and over and over again, but I don’t know much about the psychological life of animals. However, my grandparents once owned a dog (named Muffin) that we thought at first was a particular breed of dog because for a week after the dog came from the shelter, it would not bark at all. After it realized it was safe, the dog started barking and basically never shut up, showing itself to be quite a loud dog, as well as an immensely clever and friendly one. The dog has since died, but I have reflected on its personally because my own story is not so different.
After all, when I was taken to Florida as a three year old, it was thought that I was a quiet child, and certainly I was in a fair bit of shock (as has been the place often in my life). Of course, as most people have found out, I am not a quiet person by nature, and once I feel a little bit comfortable I tend to be quite chatty, whether by writing or speaking. While I am certainly of vastly greater intellect than a small mutt, there are underlying similarities in patterns, as clearly the dog was intelligent enough to feel afraid and to react to that fear in a similar way to a small child. Perhaps Muffin and I were not so different after all, as I cannot understand how people would want to abuse that which is small and innocent and good-natured, as I tend to feel highly protective of such beings myself.
As I have noted elsewhere, I really hate making other beings feel afraid. As I intimately know fear, and its effects, I do not like others to suffer likewise thanks to me, whether it be squirrels or people. And yet sometimes one cannot seem to help but make people feel afraid, because often people have fears that involve the same kind of problems, and the behaviors that some people use to deal with their fears or loneliness often provoke fears in others. I suppose in many ways it is merciful that we are not fully aware of the way in which others respond to us. Many of us (myself included) tend to have positive motives and a disinterest in frightening or bullying others. It would be an immensely bothersome and dispiriting thing to be known as the creature of a squirrel’s nightmares, or to know just what level of fear one’s awkward but hardly corrupt conduct caused in the hearts of others. That which I know about myself is disheartening enough.