An Essay by Nevena Ljubisic

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Looking in My Nina's Eyes

I'm looking in my Nina's eyes. (Nina is my dog). The most beautiful eyes in the world! In them I can see both joy and sadness, both melancholy and playfulness... I see all emotions that many people think are possessed only by the human kind. Oh, how wrong are they!

I'm looking in my Nina's eyes. I look and remember the time she came to me. She was small and wild, scared, outcast by man. However, little by little I gained her trust. She let me put my hands on her, touch her cold snout. And when she, for the first time, ran and jumped on my knees, I was endlessly happy!

I'm looking in my Nina's eyes. Looking and thinking: "What if she hadn't found me? What if they picked her up and took in the name of science?? What if those eyes of her's had served for testing of cremes and detergents just so we, humans, would be more beautiful, cleaner and smelling pleasantly?" I remember a picture that I saw on TV - a little puppy, cuddly just like my Nina, peeking through the bars of a cage in which he was enprisoned. His eyes are watery, crying. He's all shaking. They pour detergent into his eyes, to see it's effects. There's a white rabbit in a cage next to him. Half of his body has been shaved. He's lying lifelessly... though he is still breathing. Detergent was poured into his body to check the effects.

That could have been Nina. That could have been her pretty eyes. And because they aren't doesn't make me feel any better. I have compassion. I feel guilty. Because I might be washing my dishes using a detergent that's been tested on a rabbit or a dog. You might be using that detergent, too. We all want to be beautiful and smell pleasantly. We all slowly kill a rabbit or a dog, and hundreds like them. We kill them when we put things into our baskets while shopping without checking the name of the producer, what was used in the production process and how it was tested. We kill them with our ignorance. Yes, we kill them. All of us.

I'm looking in my Nina's eyes. Looking and thinking how many eyes like those suffered, how many were tortured and then closed forever in pain and torment. I remember all the pictures I have seen, all the articles I have read, and which remain written inside me forever. I remember that big, white, stray dog which was put to sleep in front of cameras. Why? Just because he was stray, because people called him stray, without saying that they made him what he was. He shook painfully, closed his eyes in a spasm, his black little snout leaked a droplet, and then he fell like he was mowed down.

I remember a story from a slaughterhouse. Seven workers drowned in a pool which contained blood of slaughtered cattle.

I remember homestead slaughter every fall. Thousands of pigs being dragged by their ears from their narrow pig-houses. She painfully squeaks; five people hold her and stretch her while one of them stabs a knife in her throat. And later, they deliciously chew sausages and warm cracklings.

I remember millions of dogs which spend their entire life on a chain one or two meters long.

I remember farms in which chicks lay tightly packed in the dark, being force fed day after day after day just so they could gain weight quickly and then end on our table as a frankfurter, patty or a roast.

I remember the smelly sea on a large tuna breeding facility.

I remember the trucks packed with calves. Being taken who knows where, most probably in a slaughterhouse. I can still see their warm, big eyes full of fear.

I remember many things. The blood, the screams and the flesh get all mixed up. And I feel sick. Sick with people, with the world, with myself. But I want to have faith. I want to change at least a bit of the world, at least the bit in which I live. To begin with, I tossed red meat from my diet. I remember the little pig from G'lamour Caffe, his gentle, pink skin, his cute snout and I know: "They are all like that. I don't want to eat them!" It's hard for me because many don't understand me. They think I am faking, acting out, affecting. "Man eats everything. That is normal!," they say. But I remember the little pig... and my Nina's eyes.

I found out which companies use animals in production and in testing. I avoid in big circles their products on shelves in stores. I don't eat gums because a cow has to be killed to make them.

It looks modest to you? Maybe it is. But I keep on trying; there are still many things I want to change in this world. Many things I want to discover and learn. Because of my Nina's eyes... and all the eyes hidden in her look.

by Nevena Ljubisic

Dog and girl

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