I think it’s quite safe to say I’m an animal lover, mostly dogs as I was raised with them and I think they’re the most wonderful, loyal, loving companion a growing child or a dedicated adult could ever ask for. If you’ve read any of my novels you’ll see there’s always a dog in there. (Don’t get me wrong, I am aware that dogs have been in the news more and more for attacks etc, but my honest opinion is: you get a bad dog if you have a bad owner.)
Me and Cracker at Hollingworth Lake
I’m not just stuck on dogs though, I love all animals; cats, mice, horses, sheep, elephant, hippos, bear, rhinos. The list goes on; even the bad guys I love, Killer whales and the like (don’t you think you should hear the Imperial March every time they show up on a wildlife documentary?). Animals are marvellous and wondrous and can bring so much to our lives; including broken hearts!
This week two of my friends have had to say goodbye to their beloved pets. Both cats, both old and lived good long lives for cats, years they probably would never have seen as wild or strays. They have both been ill for a while and they’ve had to make that awful decision that we all know is the kindest thing you can do for them, but still it’s awful. We always say the same thing as well don’t we as we wipe away our tears: ‘it’s so silly, it’s only a cat!’ it’s not silly at all and they most definitely were not ‘only a cat’. They were your cat, your pet, your companion. They have been in your lives for fifteen years and they have brought you comfort, love, happiness and probably immense amount of stress, why it’s almost like having a child. In fact I’m terrible for that, as I call myself mum to my little dog ‘come on, come and sit with your mum.’ And she does! I call her my little girl, because she is.
We adore our animals, we find joy and love in their devotion, their loyalty and their quirky, sweet personalities.
Long gone are the days, at least in many societies, that animals were just property and working commodities. We now recognise them as cognitive, conscious creatures with emotions and personalities that bring a whole new dimension to all of our existence.
We have taken our understanding of animals to a whole new level; in New York this week a court is deciding if a chimpanzee has human rights; basically they are deciding if they are to be entitled to “legal personhood.” In the case of Tommy, a former circus chimpanzee, NhRP are claiming he has been falsely imprisoned. He lives in a cage in an outbuilding in New York where he is alone, there are no other chimps or animals to share company with him and his only company is a television on the far wall from which he watches cartoons. Their main hope from the outcome is Tommy will be freed to go and live in a Sanctuary in Florida which homes other chimpanzees, mainly former research animals. They are of course not claiming Tommy is Human, but they are saying that as any human, he has rights that include not being locked in a cage in isolation, especially in his case as there has been no crime or wrong doing. People campaign that dangerous criminals shouldn’t be subjected to such conditions, so why should an innocent chimp.
This grows on from what started about century ago, if probably not before when people looked at animals and saw in them something more than ‘a creature’. They looked into their eyes and they saw souls and knew that they were real and they were feeling and they were alive! Soon came along the people who want to put a stop to the travelling circus’s and the captivity of wild animals: Born Free, WWF, DSWT just to name a few. We realise what human beings are doing to living conscious animals and we want to stop it. To stop cosmetic testing on animals, medical testing on animals.
It’s a complete contrast to the other side of the world in African countries where monkeys and primates are still hunted as bush meat. Black market poachers are hunting Elephants, Tigers and Rhino’s to extinction for far Eastern demand stemming from ignorant mythical beliefs and demonstrations of wealth.
In Such countries you can go as the typical Western Tourist and enjoy a monkey show or sit with a live tiger or ride an elephant, and trust me as someone who’s been, it’s soul destroying. You don’t see these magnificent creatures enjoying their natural habitat. They are a commodity to be exploited and you find yourself hating yourself for being apart of that industry and paying that money to sit on an elephant while they trudge round a tiny quarry. Then you watch the baby elephants perform and you can see the soreness on their legs where they have clearly been chained before being brought out to perform for you. baby elephants should be with their mother for a long time, not torn away from them to dance for tourists! The monkey show made me cry! Sat still, not even allowed to preen themselves as they do in the wild while tourists sat to have their photo’s taken with them and then made to perform and entertain.
These are intelligent, conscious, cognitive animals and they are wild and they have rights!
I personally believe that religions that still make sacrifices are as barbaric now as we observe ancient cultures were when they gave human sacrifices to the myths of gods and goddesses. Why is the slaughter of a lamb a justified sacrifice in the name of religion? I don’t understand a god that revels in the death and sacrifice of innocent life.
At the beginning of the year I turned vegetarian because of all things, Elephants. You may think that’s strange as I’ve never eaten Elephant and as far I’m aware neither has anyone I know. However I watched a documentary on the orphan Elephants left so because of the atrocious poaching industry built on the illegal trade of ivory built on the demand of wealthy easterners, mainly in China, who think they have some sort of right of ownership of this animals parts.
Many people were interviewed and I watched and it broke my heart, then one of the campaigners made a very powerful, to me anyway, statement:
“They don’t need the ivory, it’s not a necessity, they want it, it’s human greed and desire, that is all, animals are being slaughtered because humans want them. Then the same could be said for the meat industry!”
Bam! Like a bat round the head that hit me. I don’t need to eat meat, I ate it because I liked it, because I enjoyed it, because I wanted it. it was a want, a desire not a necessity. I was partaking in the supply and demand of a product that is built on the mass slaughter of animals everyday.
How could I condemn one instance and not the other?
I couldn’t and now I find myself getting angry with ignorant people who make those declarations of “oh I love meat, I couldn’t give it up, just don’t tell me where it came from!” I wonder if women wearing ivory jewellery say the same thing or the men with their expensive, precious ornaments: Just don’t tell me where it came from!
I’m not going to condemn all meat eaters and I’m not going to start having a go at farmers either. We had a farm when I was a child and we lost it due to the egg crisis in 1990 and I know how hard farmers work and that most of them are very aware of their animals and treat them well and with respect. It is from these that my wife, who has not gone vegetarian is now buying her meat. Local farm shops where it’s a little pricier, but we know it hasn’t been mass produced under some factory line of poor animals that are just being bred and farmed out in horrific amounts for profit.
I think most people would do the same if they opened their eyes instead of making the statement Just don’t tell me where it came from.
I think most human beings have empathy, compassion and a certain identification with animals. We reach out to animals and young children in ways which we rarely do for our fellow man; it was seen here in England not so long ago when the Manchester Dogs home was deliberately burnt down and the entire country stepped up, in less than twenty-four hours they had raised half a million pounds and the money just kept going up. To date they have raised £1,466,069.22. Because we reacted to the horror and suffering of innocent animals.
Do we humanise them too much? Is giving a chimpanzee the legal right of personhood a step too far? Is calling our cats a and dogs babies and giving them their own indoors beds and rights in our homes too far for animals that were domesticized for work. Is attributing Pigs, dolphins, elephants and monkeys with our intelligence a bit extreme? Or is it just that we are finally evolving enough to understand that the imprisonment, forced labour, exertion of our will over a creature less developed than ourselves is exploitative and just plain wrong. Maybe we realise as the creatures that have evolved with intelligence and conscience that the lesser animal aren’t here to serve us, but we are here to protect and serve them. It is our responsibility to look after this planet and all the living animals on it.
Cracker: my little girl
I believe all animals have the same capability of emotion that we do. I come home from work and my little dog is so happy to see me she tries to wag her tail and her whole goes with it, she is that excited. She runs across the field with me and loves to play. She’s obedient because she wants to be, because she loves me. Many may say we are attributing a human ability and emotion to an animal that is incapable of it, but trust me, she loves me. I look into those gorgeous, sweet brown eyes and I see the soul of a unique, one of a kind creature and I see the love in her eyes for me.
I love her too, as I said, she is my little girl!
Am I just a bit over the top? Or am I spot on the money? Maybe I’m not even close? I don’t know; I’m sure all of you will have your own opinions about what animal rights should be and what you believe an animal is and has in regards to personality and soul. But surely we must all agree that we don’t want to leave a planet to our grandchildren where they read about elephants, Rhino’s, Tigers, Orangutans, Whales, and so many other animals as we do about the Dodo. creatures that once were that no longer exist because the viral plague of human beings wiped them from the face of the planet?