February 19, 2010

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

What we can learn through God’s creatures

Shirley Vogler MeisterAfter receiving positive feedback from readers following my December column about the book Will I See My Dog in Heaven? by Franciscan Father Jack Wintz, I wasn’t at all surprised when, almost immediately, I found another animal-related book.

Perhaps God—or St. Francis of Assisi—serendipitously put these books in my path.

The second book is Animals Taught Me That: Memoirs of my life from cradle to present on the life lessons learned through the animals who’ve graced it by Dr. Kim Bloomer, a doctor of veterinary naturopathy in Santé Fe, N.M.

Bloomer’s encounters with animals throughout her life led to her vocation. What is remarkable about the book is that she is brutally honest about her faults when she took care of animals in earlier years. She noted that those situations gave her a better understanding of excellent veterinary care.

She admits at first to struggling about sharing personal stories that expose her failures. In 2008, she wrote a three-part piece titled “Come to the Edge” inspired by Guillaume Apollinaire’s poem.

Bloomer claims that what she wrote “was probably the most passionate article I’ve ever written expressing my complete angst about all that we as human beings have perpetrated upon animals and the factions that divide us.”

I have felt that angst now and then because I have seen the results of mistreatment of animals. My family has rescued or helped dogs, cats, birds and an assortment of other critters. Once, I even wrote a column about the time I rescued a little white mouse. A pet store manager found a home for it with a young boy who is allergic to other animals. Even that effort was worthwhile.

Bloomer is a devout Christian who has experienced life in amazing ways. However, she pulls no punches when admitting the mistakes she made, and is wonderfully open about her faith and trust in God.

Each chapter of her book begins with a quotation from the Bible. She also admits that the most important aspect of her book is how selflessly animals are in teaching us about life. She takes readers on a journey through her experiences with animals, both wild and domestic. The book’s many delightful animal sketches are the work of Barbara Hilford.

Bloomer hosts a weekly online radio show called “Animal Talk” with a like-minded colleague, Dr. Jeannie Thomason.

Her Web site is www.AspenbloomPetCare.com.

Parents and children who want to know more about the best approaches when caring for animals will learn much from this extraordinary book published by CrossBooks.

Bloomer ends her book with Psalm 148, which reads, in part, “Praise the Lord from the earth, … you animals wild and tame, you creatures that crawl and fly; … You kings of the earth and all peoples. … Let them all praise the Lord’s name, for his name alone is exalted, majestic above earth and heaven” (Ps 148:7, 10, 13).

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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