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Confronting the Cruelty Within

My parents' puppy, Flash Gordon, to whom I am a very proud and doting auntie.
My parents’ puppy, Flash Gordon, to whom I am a very proud and doting auntie.

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently finished reading a book by David Grimm called “Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs.”

The book gave me a lot to think about on a lot of different levels.

And while I expected to feel upset, especially while reading (or skimming, or sometimes skipping over) stories about the cruel things people have done to animals that is now prompting a push to give cats and dogs expanded “human” rights, I didn’t expect it to become personal.

As in, I don’t think of myself as a cruel person.

I have pets – my parrot, Pearl, and my tortoise, Malti – plus a puppy named Flash Gordon to whom I am a proud auntie.

I have never deliberately harmed any creature…or at least I thought I hadn’t until I read “Citizen Canine.”

The more I encountered stories of cruel animal abusers, the more everything inside of me began to revolt. To rage. I started questioning everything I thought I believed about how we are all connected….somehow….even though I couldn’t begin to explain where my beliefs come from or how all that alleged connectedness might actually work.

But I mean, how could I – gentle soul that I consider myself to be – have anything in common with those so-called humans who commit such horrific crimes against the non-human beings we share this planet with?

How can those people – the cruel animal harmers – even be considered “human?” And if they are in fact human, then what species am I?

I mean, I honestly think I have more in common with the garden rocks in our backyard than with those kinds of people.

So I continued to ruminate as I continued to read. I continued to ponder, to worry and rage. This went on for days.

And then one day, a small band of black sugar ants snuck under the sill of my kitchen window and onto the counter. 


Whack! Spritz. Wipe.

Without even thinking about it – without contemplating for one stone cold second – the entire band had been wiped out.

Guess who did it.

Yup. It was me.

The cold-blooded killer, the cruelty within, woke up and went to work.

By the time it was over, it was far too late for a take-back…or even a pre-annihilation apology.

I am now working on this. Sort of. I guess. It is not easy. In fact, a couple of fruit flies and a few of the original ant band’s counterparts have already bit the dust as of this morning.

Meanwhile, I am struggling to figure out where to draw the line – and in my defense (as a friend recently pointed out) I never try to fly up THEIR noses, sting their leg skin or thieve away their food supplies.

I have tried having intuitive conversations – especially with the multiple spider breeds that seem to favor my foyer during certain times each year. I have told the spiders they can live in the foyer (which is an enclosed indoor stairway with a door separating it from my actual living space) but they can’t come in to where Pearl and Malti and I live. Sometimes this even seems to be working.

I have attempted to lay down the same ground rules with the fruit flies and the ants, who (thus far at least) seem totally unwilling to meet me halfway.

I have also begun to attempt rescues wherever possible – so far today I “rescued” a spider by chasing it out of the entryway and back into the foyer. And I rescued a small fly by picking up the lid it was sitting on and taking it outside to fly away.

Lest it sound like my entire home is covered in bugs, I can assure you it isn’t. But the casa I live in is 100 years old – literally – and the windows are not sealed in the way of its modern counterparts. So there are no border control agents or checkpoints, per se, to roadblock an insect’s path, should it wish to move from outside my casa to inside.

[Just as a personal disclosure, I also have to say this – there will be no “roach rescues.” Ever. There will only be swift and decisive retaliation with one single goal….eradication.]

But for nearly every other form of non-human, non-animal (i.e. insect) life that ventures inside these walls, I just want them all to know I am working on finding a kinder, gentler way to say “go away right now.”

In other words, there may not be any available space at this particular inn, but I will at least promise to try very, very hard not to squash you on your way out.

Today’s Takeaway: How do you handle the issue of insect intruders? Do you have any boundaries that help? Are there any insects that get a guaranteed free pass – or ones that are guaranteed a quick trip to Death Row? I’d love to hear how you deal with this issue!

Confronting the Cruelty Within

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2019). Confronting the Cruelty Within. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Mar 2019
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