In a November post about Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, I mentioned mouse ladders. Girl Least Likely To asked what those were, reminding me what odd things they seemed the first time I was tasked with cleaning and refilling the water bowls.
They’re simple things – bent pieces of thin metal with holes in it. They attach to the outside of the bowls and extend inside, so a mouse swimming in the bowl has something to grab onto and use to climb to safety. I posted more detail about this, and pictures, in the story of the mouse ladders.
When Terry said that the odd metal devices were mouse ladders, in answer to my question about what they were and whether I needed to reattach them to the water bowls, it was an eye-opener on several levels. First, the odd bits of metal suddenly became logical devices and it was then obvious how they fit on the water dishes. Secondly, it made me think about how all residents at the sanctuary were able to find sanctuary, not just those individuals who had been rescued and purposely brought there.
Sanctuary is in the details. The birds roosting in the barns, the mice that share food and space with the pigs, chickens, horses, and goats, and who are protected from drowning in the water bowls, should they happen to fall in. The ticks that are not killed, the snakes that are allowed to do their snake things undisturbed, the bird feeders and squirrel feeders. The signs on the entrance gate forbidding any kind of hunting on the property, thus also giving sanctuary to the wild turkeys, deer, ducks, geese and any other animal that would otherwise be hunted by humans. The hunting ban was especially poignant on Saturday, the last day of deer hunting season.
These are the details that most of us don’t think about until we see it and assimilate it. I admit that if I hadn’t asked about the mouse ladders, it wouldn’t have occurred to me on my own that the mice would need them. I smile now when I see the mouse ladders; for me they symbolize what sanctuary means, at the core.
We, as vegans, as animal rights activists, tend to think of and take action for the animals that need saving from deliberate and institutionalized cruelty and death. How much more can we do, I wonder, to also help those we live among? To help safeguard them from the human-made dangers that are often unthinkingly deadly. Like water bowls.
Gary at AnimalWritings posted a few months ago about an ant. I think his story says beautifully what I’m struggling to express about even the littlest and least obvious in the world around us.