41. More than Meat’s the I (03/2011)
Given equal consideration, encounters with other species elicit daunting revelations. Used for purposes that attempt to satisfy our desires for food, clothing, leisure, entertainment, company, education, vanity, redemption, and nurturing, cultivated animals in our midst continue to be overlooked. On closer examination the philosophers and scientists struggle to explain the obvious. Our desires don’t make us happy and they usually contribute towards the misery of others.
“Hello, yes hello! You are the one and only. I am so excited to see you. Nobody else exists but you. You have my undivided attention. You are everything to me. I never tire of you. You can do whatever you like to me. I am loyal to you. I honour and obey you. My love is unconditional…till death us do part. I keep trying to encourage interaction. I’ll continue like this, and maybe one day you will learn to understand what love is.” Describing a portrait of the friend is the canine raison d’être.
Geese have a family existence that is analogous to human family life according to the animal behaviourist, Konrad Lorenz, who spent years studying the greylag goose. He observed, for example, that in a community, geese paired up in their adolescence exhibiting very similar behaviour to that witnessed in human courtship rituals, and then the couple remain faithful to each other for life. Furthermore it is also true of our domestic geese who have to endure a closer proximity to humans, that males will often mate with up to five females.
Cats know they’re superior to man and other beasts, and some humans know it too. This egocentricity doesn’t require proof, unless you are a dog. Challenges are dealt with through sheer force of personality and only when cornered, a sharp, well-directed deterrent delivered with precision to the most vulnerable protuberance will suffice. Egocentrism, designed for self-preservation, can also be graciously exchanged for humility at the drop of a cat that wants something from you.
Sheep remind us of how we might appear to predatory aliens viewing us from their spaceship: Fodder!
Among cows on the other side we can see that it takes more than brute force to achieve anything on elusive greener grass. Cruelty requires cunning.
Pigs plough the ground for tasty morsels so refined as truffles and other delicacies. The appreciation of subtle flavours is less developed in humans because we have fewer taste buds. Our limited capacity to appreciate odours is simply restricted to perfume and putrefaction, hence our need to flavour food. An elevated ability for blissful relaxation in swine is exemplified in the intensely sensual habit of wallowing, preferably in mud, with friends and family. There is a growing inability to truly relax for humans existing in crowded cities. Suppression of natural behaviour in pigs is characteristic of intensive living conditions where piglets are packed into pens on slats, sows are kept in restrictive crates, reproduction is achieved by artificial insemination, and they’re fed unpalatable mush: To bring home the bacon.
Wild horses inevitably break the ice and approach human animals out of curiosity, reaching out gently, guiding us towards interactive communication by offering trust. Impatient for a breakthrough, we break the horse; we break the friendship and make it impossible to break away. Beasts of burden become the broken hearted prisoners of human triumph and folly. Breaking news very late in the day, a horse whisperer softly reveals equine etiquette, opening a small niche for lovers resistant to our quick fix society.
You’re not off the hook if you’re not on the hook, so just take a look.