Deep Within – The Edgar’s Mission Story
Although the connection between a rather dashing and debonair pink pig and a girl who adored him like no other, is a pretty good place to start, the thread of this audacious endeavour predates this meeting many a year.
Yet interwoven into the rich tapestry of this now much-loved sanctuary are common themes: love, respect, and an awe for animals and the natural world; a courage to not be daunted by the prospect of “you can’t” or “you don’t have the means”; and a willingness to believe that we can all be change makers in this world.
There is no doubt that Blackie and Tiny, our family’s two cats, along with a goofy and lovable Labrador named Laddie, and the countless bees I would follow for hours on end were my first teachers and profound guides who helped me to land where I and Edgar’s Mission are today.
They taught me lessons that I have long remembered and carry in my heart and deeds every day. For they taught me that animals are different from each other, and that no blanket description can really cover them all, for each has a rich and full personality. One that is not carved in stone, but one that is shaped by their lived experiences, with each putting their own personal spin on it.
Just like we humans.
And they paved the stones that would guide me to the belief that the world we create is based upon the choices we all make.
While Tiny was amiable and patient, one who loved nothing more than to have her tummy rubbed as she lay snuggled next to me in bed, Blackie would have none of this. He was aloof and would scratch at my curious and chubby hand when I failed to heed his hiss that unequivocally said, “stay back”.
In Laddie, one could not find a more loyal, gentle, forgiving and trusted friend. One who held court over me during my many intrepid adventures in the wide and wild world that was our backyard. I swear he would have held off an army should one have had the temerity to enter our realm.
Alas though, the dear boy did occasionally mistake me for a tree. And in this I learnt the valuable lesson of vigilance and what a virtue it would be to have eyes in the back of one’s head!
Oh how I wish I could apologise to this dear fellow for his unflinching patience, enduring all of my childhood follies. Yet from this I have learnt that we have but one chance in the moment, that life is not a dress rehearsal, and we can never “unchange” what we have done or said, only acknowledge our shortcomings and strive to be better, more compassionate versions of ourselves.
And those bees, those delightful busy bees with their ever-fluttering wings. They taught me the value of hard work and diligence. And lessons of humility. Although I did not even know the word at the time, I understood its meaning.
But most of all from my childhood animal friends, they taught me something incredibly important. They taught me that in the ways that matter most, we, and they are the same.
We all want to live.
We have the same need for food and water. The same need for shelter and safety. The need for family, friends, and the company of one’s own kind. And the need for our lives to be filled with experiences of meaning and purpose.
Alas, it would take some twenty years on for me to fully realise this and live it authentically.
Graduating from caring deeply about our family pets, it came as no surprise that I would gravitate to helping countless other not-so-fortunate ones find forever homes – thankfully my dear mum was very accommodating when those homes were our own. Caring deeply too about native animals was my passion and I assisted in the many ways I could.
And when I became aware about the cruel and unnecessary testing of products on animals, I made my love of them count and chose cruelty free. It was from here I was to land at an anti-fur rally, because, drawing close to the end of the 20th century, we no longer needed to clothe ourselves in the fur of other beings given the plethora of alternatives we had, right?
So there I was, attending the rally wearing my woollen shirt, leather belt and shoes. It was here I learned about the book, “Animal Liberation” by Peter Singer. And my epiphany followed straight after reading of his attendance at an RSPCA event, where the mutual care of animals was on the agenda and when it came time for afternoon tea, so too were animals.
And while Singer mused, how odd, that was to be my light bulb moment, and I determined how blinkered I had been. There I was caring deeply about animals, going to great lengths to save some, expecting people to take me seriously whilst I was condemning countless other animals who were no less worthy of my compassion and kindness, no less sentient or aware, to lives of abject misery, supporting the separation and heart-ache of mothers from their much-loved babies, and by stealth causing the death of animals who had no interest in dying before their time.
My answer to all this was simple – overnight I became a vegan. Although I wasn’t a very good one, as I soon learned that I had been pronouncing the word incorrectly as veg-un. I had after all read it in a book and there were so few around me at the time to know any better.
And whilst an incredible sense of sadness overcame me, I too recognised that I could not change the past. Dwelling upon it would neither help nor heal me, only a conviction to right my past wrongs would, and that I set about doing.
Doing so guided by the kindness and non-judgemental attitude that afforded the shy me the courage to attend that rally that day. This was to become the hallmark of the advocacy work of Edgar’s Mission, never telling people what to do or not do, but rather encouraging them to think.
The meeting of Edgar Alan Pig in 2003, a quirky idea for a photo shoot with James Cromwell to raise awareness about the plight of these much-maligned animals, was to kick start my living apology to farmed animals – Edgar’s Mission.
A haven for formerly farmed animals, and a beacon of hope for the ones who will never know kindness.
Witnessing people interacting with my beloved Edgar got me to thinking, whilst I could speak to people’s minds, Edgar so eloquently and jovially whispered to their hearts, reminding them that this is the true place animals, regardless of their form, or the favour we hold for them, should be.
For this truly is the power of meeting animals, when done so divorced of any preconceived ideas, societal values or vested interests. Looking deep into their innocent eyes, or taking a glimpse into their now joyful worlds, we find something too that is deep within us all.
Something that irrevocably links us with the non-human animals of this world.
And that something is the goodness of the human heart.