My laughter mixed with tears as I read your story! Animals are a gift. It breaks my heart when I think of homeless pets, puppies bred for painful research, exotics enslaved in circuses and zoos, livestock suffering on factory farms. Your article was compassionate. Hopefully it will touch everyone in such a way as to truly create respect for our companion animals and cherish them for what they are—friends for life.
LOUISE KAHLE, St. Petersburg, Fla.
Initially I was disappointed that my Amazon parrot Rowdy learned to make the annoying sound of our noisy smoke alarm. But soon I realized her keen sense of smell enabled her to sound off at small levels of smoke the alarm hadn't even detected yet. What astounded me was that she clearly understood the connection. Animals are much smarter than most people give them credit for. How nice that PEOPLE recognizes that fact.
ANDREE G. ENOS, Visalia, Calif.
After being bombarded with recent news stories about teens who have allegedly killed their newborns, I found the story of Scarlett, the cat who was severely burned saving her kittens from a fire, particularly poignant. Her heroics and those of the other animals should be an example to us all.
HOLLY SCHUBERT, Roscoe, Ill.
Humans don't always see the special relationship between kids and animals. Both of my children have been saved by animals. Ten years ago I was alerted by our cat to my daughter's choking. My son was pulled out of an anthill by our dog, who then dragged him to a wading pool to help remove the fire ants. I will always believe our animals are angels watching over our kids.
MARY ANN SURRAN, Eatontown, N.J.
One pet mentioned in your story—the potbellied pig Snort, who saved her owners from carbon monoxide poisoning—received the American Humane Association's William O. Stillman Award for bravery in March 1996. The award, which recognizes pets who risk their lives to save their owners and owners who risk theirs to save their pets, has been given to 144 animals and 115 people since its inception in 1900. We would love to recognize more pets and people for their extraordinary heroism. They must be nominated for the award through a local humane society or animal shelter.
BETTY LEWIS, American Humane Society, Englewood, Colo.
Regarding the story on Snort, is there anyone else who thinks there is something sick about feeding a potbellied pig ham? This pig saved the lives of his owners, and they repaid him with porcine cannibalism.
CHRISTINA MACNEIL, Halifax, N.S.
The pets I've had in my lifetime have enriched my heart and soul so much, I could never express it. While none of them have ever had the opportunity to save my life, I have no doubt they would have. Then again, perhaps they already have—they have saved my sanity, broken my heart, mended it again, soothed my mind, licked my tears and warmed my toes. Without the little souls embodied by these furred, feathered and scaled friends, we humans might never know the meaning of unconditional love.
LESLIE CURTIS, Mesa, Ariz.
While he was certainly one of the last tough guys, I'll remember Robert Mitchum as the last original. He was a man I respected not only for his body of work but also for living his life unapologetically. The world is just not as cool without Mitchum in it.
JEANNIE BlLSKY, Hartford, Conn.
I've always wondered why PEOPLE didn't come up with the Sexiest Man Alive Lifetime Achievement Award just for Robert Mitchum. For all of his life he exuded more sex appeal than all of today's Young Turks put together.
VIRGINIA WALLACE, Littleton, Colo.
I am writing in response to the people who wrote letters complaining about my generation ("Kids Without a Conscience") and how we are being raised without morals. Well I am 17, and I can say that you people are wrong. The majority of us do have morals; we are just overshadowed by the kids who do not. You must remember that people of your generation are capable of terrible acts of violence as well. Finally I would like to point out that your parents were probably thinking the same thoughts you are about the next generation. Does anyone see a pattern?
MEGAN WINN, Sacramento