I went back to my conversation with Siegfried that morning; we had just about decided that the man with a lot of animals couldn't be expected to feel affection for individuals among them. But those buildings back there were full of John Skipton's animals - he must have hundreds. Yet what made him trail down that hillside every day in all weathers? Why had he filled the last years of those two old horses with peace and beauty? Why had he given them a final ease and comfort which he had withheld from himself? It could only be love.
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My mind went back to that picture in the obstetrics book. A cow standing in the middle of a gleaming floor while a sleek veterinary surgeon in a spotless parturition overall inserted his arm to a polite distance. He was relaxed and smiling, the farmer and his helpers were smiling, even the cow was smiling. There was no dirt or blood or sweat anywhere. That man in the picture had just finished an excellent lunch and had moved next door to do a bit of calving just for the sheer pleasure of it, as a kind of dessert. He hadn't crawled shivering from his bed at two o'clock in the morning and bumped over twelve miles of frozen snow, staring sleepily ahead till the lonely farm showed in the headlights. He hadn't climbed half a mile of white fell-side to the doorless barn where his patient lay.
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Over the years I knew her she always looked at me like that - as though I was a quite pleasant but amusing object - and it always did the same thing to me. It's difficult to put into words but perhaps I can best describe it by saying that if I had been a little dog I'd have gone leaping and gambolling around the room wagging my tail furiously.
And there was that letter from the Bramleys""that really made me feel good. You don't find people like the Bramleys now; radio, television and the motorcar have carried the outside world into the most isolated places so that the simple people you used to meet on the lonely farms are rapidly becoming like people anywhere else. There are still a few left, of course""old folk who cling to the ways of their fathers and when I come across any of them I like to make some excuse to sit down and talk with them and listen to the old Yorkshire words and expressions which have almost disappeared.
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If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. I hope to make people realize how totally helpless animals are, how dependent on us, trusting as a child must that we will be kind and take care of their needs ...[they] are an obligation put on us, a responsibility we have no right to neglect, nor to violate by cruelty.
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I think it was the beginning of Mrs. Bond's unquestioning faith in me when she saw me quickly enveloping the cat till all you could see of him was a small black and white head protruding from an immovable cocoon of cloth. He and i were now facing each other, more or less eyeball to eyeball, and George couldn't do a thing about it. As i say, I rather pride myself on this little expertise, and even today my veterinary colleagues have been known to remark, "Old Herriot may be limited in many respects, but by God he can wrap a cat.
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