By: Paulette Dean, Executive Director, Danville Humane Society

The month of May brings thoughts of Mother’s Day.  The very word “mother” brings to mind safety, warmth, care, and love.  There are bad mothers, to be sure, but the vast majority offer unconditional love.  In fact, all nature values mothers.  There is a reason our planet is called Mother Earth.

Mother chickens are so solicitous of their chicks that we even have coined a phrase to describe nurturing actions – mother hens.  Their chicks recognize their mothers because of the clucking noises that the mothers make while laying on eggs.  The mother hens, then, can call their babies to them when it begins to rain or when danger is noticed, and the chicks are gathered under the mother’s wings.  What a beautiful picture of nurturing motherhood.

People know to exercise caution approaching a mother animal that has her babies with her.  Even some very trusting dogs and cats become nervous when a human picks up their young.

In the wild, most fights with a female are caused by a protective mother.  Wild animal poachers and collectors know that in order to capture a baby or a young animal, the mother first has to be killed.

At the shelter, we dread the times when obviously-nursing dogs and cats are brought in as strays without their babies.  If we know where the animal came from, we go and attempt to find the babies.  Many times, we have put a mother dog on a leash, and she has led us to her puppies so we can rescue them.

Puppies and kittens adjust easily and quickly to shelter life if they come in with their mother.  As long as they have her, all is right with their world.

The shelter inspector who visits twice a year told me she gave up dairy products years ago while working for a huge dairy farm.  The calves are taken from their mothers right after birth and are placed in barns to be fed by humans or machines.  The mother cows become very agitated when they hear the cries of their calves.

How grateful the earth and its creatures should be for the institution of motherhood.  I know I am grateful for my mother, and for my sister who is the mother of seven children, and now for her children who have become wonderful mothers.