Ask the Animals: A Vet’s-Eye View of Pets and the People They Love by Bruce R. Coston, DVM. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2009. From a chapter called The Gift, page 132:
I suspect…that a deep love and empathy [for animals] is not a hereditary
trait. I certainly didn’t inherit it from my parents. I have come instead to believe that it is a random, almost reckless
gift from God to a privileged few who throughout their lives honor the Gift. The Gift does not come without a price, to be
sure. For it is accompanied by the burden of seeing innocent animals suffer at the hands of pitiless people, the responsibility
of raising orphaned squirrels and blue jays, and the crushing blows of losing special pets. But in repayment, the gift returns
a wealth of rewards from the animals that enrich our lives—rewards that are unnecessary for me to list here, for those
who share the Gift already know, and those who don’t, wouldn’t understand anyway…
And paraphrased from page 134: We recognize the Gift
in others and ourselves, accept the rights and responsibilities it bestows and affirm it again and again throughout our lives.
Thank you, God, for the Gift.
CJ's Note: Ask the Animals is reminiscent of James Herriot’s wonderful books. Coston’s memoir offers funny, sad and touching stories about a veterinary practice where the patients cannot speak,
yet communicate deeply.