Kindness to Animals by Robert Handy

LAST month a gentleman related an incident in his early life, showing how kindness to the brute creation makes them entirely subservient to our will. Similar experience is familiar to every one of us. This volume would not begin to contain the proofs which come under notice every day of our lives. Your dog or your cat understands your disposition as well as your brother or your sister. Give them a kick as you pass by, pull their ears or tail whenever you get an opportunity, and they will shun you as they would the plague. On the other hand, speak a kind word to them, give them a morsel of food, or fondle them kindly, and they will soon treat you as a friend.

I have a cat who waits for my coming home every night as regularly as the sun. And if, perchance, I do not come at my usual time in the train, she shows her disappointment by mewing. She will roll over as obediently as you ever saw a dog, at the word of command. After supper, when I put on my slippers and take the evening paper, puss takes possession of my lap, and then she seems contented and happy.

Kindness did all this—nothing else. Any cat can be taught to “roll over” in a week’s time. Any cat will be your friend, and love you, if you will treat her well.

It is precisely thus with wild animals. They know who their friends are as well as you know yours. They don’t need to be told. There is no end of stories about the elephant, the horse, the dog; about their docility, and the affection they have for those who treat them kindly. Even the lion, when brought under the dominion of man, becomes strongly attached to those who treat him with kindness. An instance of this is related of one that was kept in the menagerie of the Tower of London. He had been brought from India, and on the passage was given in charge to one of the sailors. Long before the ship arrived at London, the lion and Jack had become excellent friends. When Nero—as the lion was called—was shut up in his cage in the Tower, he became sulky and savage to such an extent that it was dangerous even for his keeper, who was not over kind to him, to approach him.

After Nero had been a prisoner for some weeks, a party of sailors, Jack being among the number, paid a visit to the menagerie. The keeper warned them not to go near the lion, who every now and then turned round to growl defiance to the spectators.

“What! old shipmate!” cried Jack, “don’t you know me? What cheer, old Nero, my lad?”

Instantly the lion left off growling, sprang up to the bars of his cage, and put his nose between them. Jack patted it on the head, and it rubbed his hand with its whiskers like a cat, showing evident signs of pleasure.

“Ah,” said Jack, turning to the keeper and spectators who stood looking on with astonishment, “Nero and I were shipmates, and you see he isn’t like some folks; he don’t forget an old friend.”

Jack and the lion are reunited

But here’s a story of another sort. Some weeks ago a caravan was exhibiting in Illinois. Among the animals was an elephant, to whom a mischievous boy had given an apple with tobacco concealed inside. As soon as the animal discovered  the trick, the boy began to laugh at the joke which he had played on the creature. The elephant, however, looked angry, and the keeper, having heard of the affair, told the boy to keep out of his reach, unless he wanted to be hurt.

But, although the lad did not come so near that the elephant could get hold of him, he hung round in the vicinity. Presently a pail of water was brought for the elephant to drink. The insulted creature filled his trunk as full as he could, and seeing a good opportunity, blew the whole of it upon the boy who had given him tobacco, wetting him from head to foot. Verdict of the spectators, and of the readers of this book, “Served him right.”