Smokey, second chance

Smokey has little interest in becoming a mummy, but you might talk him into joining your family this October. (Second Chance Animal Shelter)

Have you ever heard of a zooarchaeologist? This breed of scientists pursues a line of research on cats, dogs and other animals that were preserved with great skill in care in ancient times.

Such research allows humans to understand, for example, new and intriguing aspects of daily life and death of Egyptian people who lived thousands of years ago.

Although some of the discovered mummified animals are believed to have been meant to serve as dinner or protection for a human mummy, and others were the living representative of a god (such as the bull, ibis, crocodile or elephant), many were meant to accompany a dead person “into eternity” as his or her everlasting companion.

These were clearly beloved pets which a king or a princess did not want to leave behind, their linen wrappings adorned with jewels, beads and intricate appliqués.

So, cats like me were important to humans even thousands of years ago. As such, zooarchaeologists’ work has allowed people to recognize that the concept of the human-animal bond (that Second Chance Humane Society works to promote) is not a novel thing to the modern world but has been developing for thousands of years.

It is not surprising then that animal mummy exhibits are the most popular in historical museums. According to a National Geographic 2009 article, zooarchaeologist Salima Ikram, who studies animal remains throughout Egypt, animal mummies create a bridge between people today and those of long ago.

“You look at these animals and suddenly you say, ‘Oh, King So-and-So had a pet. I have a pet.’ And instead of being at a distance of 5,000 plus years, the ancient Egyptians become people.”

Relatable people who loved their pets as you do yours.

I am not going to lie, cats were also mummified as offerings to various deities (as were people), so I am glad that practice has become extinct. Staying focused on the positive lessons from the past, it is estimated that two in every four or five Egyptian hieroglyphs relates to animals.

According to the vast Wikipedian wisdom, “Egyptians believed that animals were crucial to both physical and spiritual survival—vital to physical survival because they were a major source of food and to spiritual survival based on how well a person treated animals during their life on earth… In order to determine a person’s admittance or denial to the afterlife, the deities would ask, among other things, whether they had mistreated any animals during their life on earth.”

Judging the results of a person’s life based on how they treated animals remains a very good measurement of humanity today. In other words, if you want to be a good person, adopt a cat (I’ll bet you didn’t see that summation coming)!

As a young and healthy little kitten here at Second Chance I should be around a long time and whoever adopts me can look forward to years of “earthly” companionship.

Come to the shelter to meet me today, just ask for Smokey, a playful, adorable male tabby looking for a forever home, who has little interest in being a mummy.

Second Chance Humane Society’s Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops have been servicing San Miguel, Ouray and Montrose Counties for 27 years.

Call 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet or about our emergency response, community medical, spay/neuter, volunteer or other services. View our shelter pets and services online: www.adoptmountainpets.org.

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