One Might Easily Wish He Were A HorseTuesday, August 14, 2012
To agree to this one has to equate a human and a cat or dog on the same level of existence. I will not argue that nor would I get into a position of doing so.
Yesterday I finished the extraordinary non fiction book, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. It is an account of the story of the 1933 to 1937 tour-of-duty of the American Ambassador William Dodd (and his most interesting sexually active daughter Martha) in Berlin during the rise to power of Adolf Hitler.
Somewhere towards the end of the book (I took six more days to read it than the allotted one week given to “fast read” books so I had to pay a $6.00 fine), on page 336 I read this:
In his diary entry for Sunday, August 5, 1934, Dodd remarked upon a trait of the German people that he observed in his Leipzig days and that had persisted even under Hitler: a love for animals, in particular horses and dogs.
“At a time when nearly every German was afraid to speak a word to any but the closest friends, horses and dogs are so happy that one feels they wish to talk,” he wrote. “A woman who may report on a neighbor for disloyalty and jeopardize his life, even cause his death, takes her big kindly-looking dog in the Tiergarten for a walk. She talks to him and coddles him as she sits on the bench, and he attends to the requirements of nature.”
In Germany, Dodd had noticed, no one abused a dog, and as a consequence dogs were never fearful around men and were always plump and obviously well tended. “Only horses seem to be equally happy, never the children or the youth,” he wrote. “I often stop as I walk to my office and have a word with a pair of beautiful horses waiting while their wagon is being unloaded. They are so clean and fat and happy that one feels that they are on the point of speaking.” He called it “horse happiness” and had noticed the same phenomenon in Nuremberg and Dresden. In part, he knew, this happiness was fostered by German law, which forbade cruelty to animals and punished violators with prison, and here Dodd found a deeper irony. “At a time when hundreds of men have been put to death without trial or any sort of evidence of guilt, and when the population literally trembles with fear, animals have rights guaranteed them which men and women cannot think of expecting.” He added,” One might easily wish he were a horse!”