The Paradox of Domesticated Animals

or . . . Thinking outside the Happy Meal box

There are days when I kinda wish I couldn’t hear the animals. How simple life would be . . . so little responsibility . . . and then I head outside and spend some time with my “babies,” and I know why I was put here as the oddity that I am; I’m here to speak for the animals, who are desperately misunderstood. One group of humans believes animals should live in a separate universe, untouched by humans; another believes they are here for our use, either food or pleasure or something to gamble on . . . whatever . . . but these people exist completely free of any concern about how animals feel as they are here for our exploitation and somewhere in the Bible it says so (not!) And so on and so forth . . .

All animals are not created equal, and please don’t blow a gasket until I explain. Then . . . whatever . . . do what you must . . . (short break here to let a pig out the side door . . .)

OK, I’m back . . .

Wild animals are wild animals. Leave them alone. Give them enormous tracks of land (10 times what they have now, even though it means taking it away from the cattle!) and walk away. Their job is to keep their own balance and the balance of the planet and they’re damn good at it. If we gave them the opportunity and the space, they would save this planet from us, and then we should thank them by giving back even more land. OK, that rant is over.

Domesticated animals are an entirely different story. Humans created these animals and chose which qualities they should have. It’s interesting how we’ve bred animals to reflect the human qualities that we desire from them, such as courage, protectiveness, companionability.  In doing so, we removed most of their wild instincts (except, of course, for cats, who if they had opposable thumbs, would rule the world.) We intentionally left most of these animals without the ability to take care of themselves in the wild. In fact, they are almost completely vulnerable in the wild. We made them totally dependent upon us for food, protection, care . . . everything.

(BTW – someone recently told me that God’s plan for bull calves was that they do what bulls do, which is breed and then get slaughtered and eaten – it’s against His will to castrate, dehorn, or anything else aside from killing them and eating them. GOD HAS NO WILL AS FAR AS BULL CALVES ARE CONCERNED AS HE/SHE DIDN’T CREATE THEM – WE DID!!!!)

And so, if they are vulnerable and dependent upon adult humans for their survival (a cat just walked over and slapped me – again, cats are excluded) what should domesticated animals resemble to us?

How about . . . children? (I just heard your head explode all the way out here on the farm. . . sorry . . .) Let me ‘splain . . .

I have been told by a lot of extremist animal rights activists that farm animals should not be trained or even handled. They should be left to themselves to graze and romp and do what wild animals do. Nobody wants to hear about how they can’t– it’s dangerous to them and dangerous to humans. I even have an example for you! It is the venerable anomaly called THE PIG.

I love pigs – in fact, my favorite animal friend of all time was one named Ozzie Osboar. They are brilliant, beautiful, emotional, loyal and capable of tremendous love. However, if you go to the southern states, pigs that have escaped from farms have created their own huge herds. They grow to extreme sizes and therefore have no wild predators to keep their population in check. They raid properties and dumps for food and cause quite a bit of damage, and they have been known to attack and kill humans. They do so to feed and nurture their families, whom they love with a vengeance. Oh, and that old adage “strong as a bull” should be “strong as a pig.” Because of this, there are people who spend their days down south hunting and killing pigs. Why? Because they are a domesticated animal gone wild. And worse, they thrive in the wild to the detriment of native populations and suburban neighborhoods.

Are pigs dangerous? Well, no. If a pig is raised from a baby and taught manners and respect, he or she is an upstanding citizen and a loyal friend. Our pigs are taught to be gentle, they learn to sit before we give them their food buckets so no one gets slimed or accidentally injured. They come when they are called and they allow us to handle them when they need medication or treatment. They are domesticated animals and they must be taught the rules of behavior, just like children, if you are a decent parent. And then it’s our responsibility to take care of them for the rest of their lives (unlike human children, who, if you are worth your salt as a parent, will go off and do their own thing.)

Now, if pigs are too far off your radar screen, think about dogs. They are domesticated animals who, if they aren’t trained and are allowed to run wild, will gather into dangerous packs. Dogs must be trained, restrained, fenced, and constantly attended to (as well as loved, cuddled and spoiled!) An untrained dog is a dangerous dog, and far too many are destroyed because some humans couldn’t be bothered to properly care for them.

I live in the world of reality, and it’s a harsh place. Despite being regularly told I’m wrong, I know firsthand from my animals what they want, and that’s what I’m going to work with. So far, no one has given me any viable alternatives. What to do with more than 100,000 horses that go to slaughter each year? If I’m not allowed to save and train a few of them them to keep them safe and happy, the only option is death. What about bull calves? Same thing. Nobody can give me a real alternative that works in the reality that is THIS WORLD TODAY which is saturated with the billions of animals we have bred to the detriment of our planet, our health and frankly, our very Spirit, which has become immune to the suffering we have created. HOW IS SLAUGHTER THE ONLY VIABLE ALTERNATIVE EVEN TO PEOPLE WHO SAY THEY LOVE ANIMALS? AAAAAAAAAAAGH! (Yes, folks, that was the sound of my head exploding . . .)

What’s the ultimate solution? Well, it’s to stop breeding domesticated animals and let that entire experiment in agriculture go away. (BOOM! BANG! POP! Heads exploding everywhere!) But really, people . . . reality check. That won’t happen. And if domesticated animals are here to stay, we need to be responsible about them. Which would require an entire book, and because I have to go out and shovel manure, I can’t write one today.

There is, however, a short moral to this story . . . we have to stop judging domesticated animals in black and white terms, all or nothing. Do they want to be kept in horrific conditions and then be slaughtered for food? Hell no. Do they want to be pushed aside and left to their own devices? Nope – we genetically manipulated them to thrive in a human/animal bond and partnership. THEY ARE HAPPY WITH THAT! I have a pack of dogs at my feet that would be devastated if I sent them outside and told them to go back to nature; it’s just not their scene.

It’s time to forge new ground in the human/animal relationship. We have to start from scratch, consult with our animal friends to understand their needs and desires, and take it from there. It’s a brave, new world, but it’s not as difficult as it may seem . . . I mean, we’ve been doing it on Locket’s Meadow for 19 years.

It’s long past time to start thinking outside of the Happy Meal box and come up with solutions for the real world, to save the planet and to save our souls.

Kathleen Schurman and her husband, Poor David, are owned by the critters of Locket’s Meadow where they talk to the animals all day long, and the animals talk back. If you want to know more about Kathleen’s love affair with Ozzie Osboar, read “Ozzie’s Promise”, the third book in the Locket’s Meadow series. You, too, will fall madly in love with a pig.



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