Hooking Empathy

The man had been enjoying a pleasant walk in the country, when he came across the distressing scenario of a young creature deserted by its mother.  Moved by the innocence and helplessness, he took it home and cared for it and called it Nuzzer A bond was formed.

However, as it grew, it became difficult to cope with  in the home setting , and the man searched for a more permanent solution for this creature that had become his friend, and that had given him so many hours of pleasure. Successful at last, he identified a place that he was sure Nuzzer would be looked after, and the man’s mind was at rest.

It was the day before Nuzzer was due to leave, that the dreadful accident happened. Suddenly startled, Nuzzer leapt from the windowsill where he had been dozing, and broke his neck.

The man was broken hearted at the loss of this little creature, and wrote the following words. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did: and that it gives pause for thought in a world which can seem to be so full of violence and hate.


‘Mong dockens high and grasses tall, your crouching form lay.

A dog had found your hiding place and frightened you at play.

Your quiv’ring form, still soaking wet, we homeward bore with care,

Hoping to heal your shattered trust and overcome your fear.

For two whole days you ailed and pined, of nature’s milk deprived,

Until a small pipette we tried, and saw your strength revived.

As each day passed, you stronger grew, and we rejoiced to see

Your appetite return at last to what it ought to be.

Your favourite meal was turnip leaves : nasturtiums pleased you too,

Cabbage and grass, oatmeal and bread, e’en docken leaves would do!

You romped and skipped upon the lawn, thro’ shrubs and roses ran,

You frisked about like any faun, and feared not dog or man.

You loved to bask in sunlight’s glow, and stretched out with delight.

(You could not know, my little one, how soon would come the night.)

At eventide, upon my lap, you’d lick my hand and doze

Dreaming perchance, of pastures green, devoid of mortal foes.

Could we have stayed that fatal leap which you of life bereft,

Great happiness had been our lot – now naught but grief is left.

We’ve laid you down in sylvan shade, twixt Birch and Apple tree,

And at your head a carv’d stone is placed for all to see.

And so farewell, sweet gentle Nuzz, we never can forget

The spell you wove around our hearts, Beloved Leveret!

© Hugh Stewart Robertson

There was nothing magical. He had offered a young creature care and sustenance, and it had blossomed and flourished.   The tragedy of the ending evoked great emotion.  It was humbling to see the respect and  the love on display for a small, insignificant animal, and realise how much we are capable of, once empathy has been hooked.

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