I would not enter on my list of friends
(Though graced with polished manners and fine sense,
Yet wanting sensibility), the man Who needlessly sets foot upon a worm.
A famous dog trainer says, "My dogs will do anything to please me." Beating is no good. It only calls out resentment and resistance. No matter how often they fail, he says, his dogs will try over and over and over again to do what he wants them to do, because they know that when they succeed they are going to get what they love so much, a lot of petting and praise.
Love has taken the wolf out of the dog and given us instead the most faithful and affectionate of animals. It has evolved our house cat from the ferocious wild cat. The same is true of other domestic animals. Kindness has trained the savage beasts of the jungle and forest and made them household pets, playmates and protectors of our children.
Rosa Bonheur, the great painter and lover of animals, bought from the owner of a menagerie a lion which he declared untamable. The artist, however, believed that love would accomplish the impossible. "In order to secure the affections of wild animals you must love them," she said, and in a comparatively short time her love had effected what the lion tamer had given up as hopeless. She used to play with and fondle the huge animal as if he were a kitten. When old and blind he died with his great paws clinging affectionately to the mistress whose love had tamed him.
It is interesting to see how quickly even the fiercest animals yield to the magic of love. Under the kindly treatment of one who really loves them, one who, like St. Francis, looks upon them as his "little brothers and sisters," the wild expression gives place to a milder, gentler one; the suspicious look is replaced by a trustful one; the brute nature is gradually softened, and distrust gives way to confidence; affection takes the place of dislike and fear; love goes out to meet love. The more love we give to any animal, the gentler and more tractable it becomes. Note the gentle, peace ful face of a cow or a horse which has been brought up as a family pet. Such animals would no more step on or injure a child than we would ourselves. We love and trust them, and they love and trust us in return.
Some time ago there was on exhibition in New York a young horse which could do the most marvelous things, and yet his trainer said that only four years before he had had a very bad disposition. He was fractious, vicious, would kick and bite and do all sorts of bad things. But four years of kindness had completely transformed the vicious yearling colt into one of the kindest and most affectionate animals in the world. He was not only obedient and tractable, but had been trained to do all sorts of unusual things. He could readily count and reckon up figures, and could even spell many words, whose meaning he seemed to understand. In fact, he seemed to be capable of learning almost anything, and the whole secret of his transformation and rare intelligence was due to kindness and love. His trainer said that in all the four years he had touched him with a whip but once.
Years ago Mr. Daniel Boyington proved to Texas cowboys, and others, that there was a better way of taming and subduing horses than the old brutal way of literally "breaking them."
"At first," says a writer, "he was hooted and jeered at, and the news that 'Uncle Dan was coming' was the signal for the larking cowboys to get together all the 'outlaws' and condemned horses for miles around, anticipating great sport in seeing them 'do up the old man' or 'run the professor plumb out of the corral.'
"When they had seen 'the professor' go into the corral without whip, rope, or hackamore, and had seen him subdue, pet, saddle, bit, and ride the most vicious horse in the bunch within three or four hours; when they had seen the trembling outlaw rub its nose against his shoulder and eat out of his hand, they said that it was hypnotism or magic. They accused him of 'doping' the horses, and privately offered him big bribes to tell them what charm or medicine he used.
"'Uncle Dan' only shook his head and laughed, and his answer was always the same. 'The only charm I use, boys, is the Golden
Rule. Treat a horse as you would like to be treated if you were a horse yourself. There is never any need for any one to beat or abuse a horse, for there is no creature living more faithful or loving, if you are only kind and patient with him. Teach him to love and have confidence in you, and give him time to find out what you want, then he will serve you not only willingly, but gladly and proudly. The best charm that any man can use in breaking a horse is kindness."
Someone has said that when a man really "gets religion" his horse soon finds it out. Yet it is a strange thing that many devoted church members, who firmly believe they are among the "righteous" are often cruel to their horses. And there is not a day that hundreds of these noble animals are not brutally maltreated in our city streets. How often do we see drivers unmercifully beating and abusing poor tired horses who are doing their best to carry their cruel burdens! But we utter no protest. We know it is wrong to allow the poor animals to be abused, but we are too cowardly to take the chances of exposing ourselves to ridicule or possible abuse from the driver, and pass on, leaving the helpless dumb creatures in their misery.
The lack of courage, the fear of being thought peculiar, keeps many people from doing kind things which their hearts prompt. Only the few have the manhood or the. womanhood to brave the ridicule of the coarse and unthinking for the sake of love.
One cold, blustering day last winter, one of these few, a woman, saw a horse standing in the street whose blanket had been blown off. The woman saw that the animal was shivering with cold, and she went and picked up the blanket and replaced it on his back. But the wind was strong and blew the blanket off again. The woman again replaced it, and this time firmly tucked it in, while she patted the horse's head. A crowd of men meanwhile had gathered on the sidewalk and stood watching her as much as to say: "I wonder what is the matter with that woman. She must be peculiar, out of her head." The idea of a fine looking, well-dressed woman getting out in the street, picking up a blanket and putting it on a horse, was something they could not understand. They thought her abnormal or eccentric.