Stephanie Here and Now
4 min readFeb 7, 2024


Thank you for writing this. I think we should all be a little more conscious of how we interact with the other beings on this planet. This is long, I apologize. It would be shorter if I wasn't worried about being attacked by your readers.

All my life I've loved animals, all animals. For the most part, that love has always been reciprocal. I've had cats who were more dear to me than most of my family members and although I've been told, plenty of times, that a friend's cat is "stand offish" or "doesn't like people" those same cats have always found their way into my lap within an hour of my being in the house. I'm the person the stray dog goes to for help. I'm the one that can pick up the sick skunk in the back yard to put her in a box of warm blankets to get her to a vet for help without getting sprayed, clawed or bitten. I'm the one whose window the birds come to when their bath has been fouled or tipped over. So what I'm about to say is not about a lack of love for animals. I want to be clear about that.

I married later in life. The man I married was adamantly anti-pet. It was partly for the reasons you state so eloquently in this article but it was also because my husband has been serious about the state of the planet for decades.

Dogs and cats are very hard on the environment. Cats kill billions of songbirds every year. They also destroy native ecosystems, foul gardens and disrupt the lives of small mammals that keep nature in balance.

The carbon footprint of one dog is the same as an SUV, and not the electric kind either. Then there's the way they dig and kick up dirt and roam all over forested land destroying fungi and small vulnerable native plants. It's a serious problem and one we can't look at because we love dogs.

Bill Mollison, the father of permaculture was once quoted as saying he thought dogs could be used for mulch. Apart from that, he didn't see any place for them in an environmentally responsible household.

I thought that sounded very cruel. I still wince at it but the fact is, research backs him up.

I'm not worried about the amount of meat an indoor cat eats, I'm not even worried about the amount of meat three dogs eat. I'm worried about what happens to the earth and the creatures that depend on the earth they trample down and the waste they leave behind and the plastic bags people use to contain that waste that takes up tons of space in the landfills and other things of that nature.

And yeah, I no longer feel okay about keeping animals for my own amusement. I've sort of, kind of promised myself that is my husband and I are ever so elderly that we can't leave the house anymore, we'll maybe adopt a couple of elder cats. But a big part of me realizes that the longer we go without, the more likely it is that we'll be without them forever.

So what we do is this: in the winter, we put out food and water for the opossums who are riding the wave of climate change and suffering in unusually heavy snow or sudden freezes. We have bird feeders in the windows where predators cannot reach them and we provide plenty of fresh drinking water for all of the wildlife that passes through our garden. (after all, it was theirs first, we started piping it underground and took more than our share away from them so giving some back is the least we can do.)

When we see an animal who has been struck by a car on the road, we stop. if we can. If they need to go to an animal rescue, we take them, if they are already dead, as they usually are, we move them off the road. No one should be left to have their dead body mangled by cars in the middle of asphalt. We stop for turtles and move them off the road so they can get safely to where they're headed.

We have a half-wild garden. I leave the seed heads of every native plant until late spring. I'm trying to get rid of the grass but we don't mow what's left of it. Whatever I plant, I expect to share. If the chipmunks get all the strawberries, oh well, I guess they needed them more than we did. We don't spray anything, ever.

I'm sad that I can't have the close companionship of animals and I'm envious that others can and don't seem to feel at all conflicted about it. But I can watch the birds eating their lunch, looking out over the valley and apparently thinking about their lives just as I do and sometimes I can see an opossum or a skunk taking something from the compost pile for their dinner and our backyard doorbell caught a bear sitting in the strawberry patch having breakfast last year.

I'm part of their world in my own small way and I fill up the hole in my heart where my beloved Miss Kitty used to be with respect for the freedom and autonomy of the animals around me. That will have to do.



Stephanie Here and Now

American from Canada. Writer Researcher. I'm new around here.