Author Sharon Bippus writes about small town life and her love of animals.

I’ve got a thing for animals: baby animals, animals in distress, animals acting like humans, stories of animals and humans bonding, you get the picture. The thing is, I’m not alone.

Recently a local story went out on social media about a dog left in a park, tied to a tree along with a bag of food and a note. Over 500 people reacted, most with strong opinions, worrying about how long that poor dog stayed there, waiting for its owner to return. Some worried about the owner and how difficult that decision must have been. I’ll add that the park is near my house and quite busy with people playing disc golf, riding fat tire bikes, or visiting the dog park, and that the news was posted on a social media page dedicated to stories related to my town (population 7,953). I don’t think I’ve ever seen 500 people in my town ‘all on the same page.’

Another post, a few days prior, showed a forlorn German shepherd, its ribs visible through its coat. The dog had showed up on a woman’s porch and still had a collar on. Over 300 people reacted, a few wondering if it was the missing dog another owner had posted about over a year ago. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful story of how people in the community had joined together to reunite these two? But no, her lost dog was female, and this one was male. A few days later an update showed the dog wearing a cute sweater and looking peaceful. He had been to the vet for a check-up and was now eating and drinking routinely. I know I felt relieved.

My sister-in-law, Annette, adopted her neighbor’s turkey. Yup, that’s right. Octavia lived in a bare pen that bordered Annette’s driveway. Annette fed Octavia daily, and sat next to her while she practiced her Spanish Duolingo. Her husband built a shelter. Whenever I visited, Octavia would come to the fence and squawk at me. Everyone around knew about the close relationship between Annette and her turkey. Octavia’s owners didn’t seem too interested in her, and didn’t have any other animals. We’re talking about living in city limits, and Octavia was probably the only turkey in town. I say was, because Octavia died a few months ago. Annette posted Octavia’s passing on social media and her many friends expressed condolences.

Trudy, one of my cross fit friends has passed around her favorite book, A Dog’s Life, The Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M. Martin. It’s a Scholastic book, written with kids in mind, but it touches her heart. Trudy says, “This is one of my favorite books because of the incredible writing from the point of view of a dog. Every scenario and thought that the dog experiences is so true to life. I could easily imagine myself enduring the hardships and companionships that were faced by the dog in every chapter of the book.” That’s it my friends, the story of a dog named Squirrel left orphaned on the streets by its mother.  Squirrel meets kind and not so kind caretakers along the way. My husband couldn’t put the book down, and I think it’s the only book he’s finished reading in the last few years.

I’m a sucker for all the videos about animals stuck in a fence or a ball of wire or maybe the bear or raccoon with its head stuck in a jar. Don’t we all watch carefully as some human tries to save them? There’s always a sense of closure when the animal, no longer hampered, scurries away. There’s all kinds of animal videos floating around the internet. The chicken or rooster that runs to the school bus to meet the child. The fawn greeting a toddler. A man raising a baby squirrel.  Deer or bear entering someone’s porch or kitchen or even bar.

Don’t we all feel charmed by these moments of sweetness? Or feel relief when an animal is saved from suffering? There’s a fifty cent word that helps describe our connection with animals: anthropomorphize. It means to attribute human qualities or behavior to an animal or object. And there’s a whole area of scientific study to determine what creatures are sentient beings, that is, which creatures really do feel and think. One study suggests that anything that can move, can think (they draw the line on sponges and corals, so Sponge Bob is an example of an anthropomorphized creature, but would not be sentient in the true form).

Our common interest in cute, cuddly, needy animals unites us despite our differences, which are many. We can all feel the same thing, even if for just one small moment. And that’s really something to think about.


  1. Kathy Rabbers November 7, 2023 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    Hey sharon. Congratulation on your first post. It was delightful

  2. Brenda Deily November 10, 2023 at 2:55 pm - Reply

    Great post! Watching animal reels is my go to stress reliever! Thank you Sharon!

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