The Outermost House

You’ve flipped through all the magazines in the waiting room, and heard the stories of countless animals as they filtered through the veterinary clinic with their owners. They arrive and leave again, bidding you good luck, and yet breathing a silent breath of relief that it is you who remain. The hours of waiting grow long when your pal of fourteen years is in the throes of an uncertain surgery. And so, you find yourself wandering the hallways, reading the numerous memorials, awards, and diplomas that paper the walls – anything to take your thoughts somewhere else for a few minutes. It was just such a time for me, when I stumbled across the following framed quote, hanging on a wall at the Iowa State Veterinary Clinic. And though I have known this truth for a lifetime, the words brought me comfort and reassuring knowledge that there are others who share this reality. We are family, and we still have much to do…

"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."

Henry Beston, The Outermost House (1928)