I often find myself thinking about living the way animals do, even the ones who are loved and cared for, and thinking how miserable it would be. Then I look at them and they don't seem to be bothered by it. I always wonder if I just can't see that they are unhappy, or if things really feel that different to them.
I think the boredom alone would be too much for me to deal with. As far as I can tell, all the animals in my care basically sleep all day and night. I can't even imagine having nothing to do but sleep all the time, yet that seems to be what they want to do. I wonder if there is something I could do to make their lives more interesting, or if they would still choose to lay around all day no matter what I did.
These are things that have always troubled me, but Riley and Tuni, my adopted pigs, create even more of a dilemma. I just don't know how to handle their physical circumstances or their social situation. In the past, I've always done everything I could to stop any one of my animals from bullying any other. However, with Riley and Tuni, there is very little I can do. With their size, I can't actually stop them from fighting if they want to. When I interned at Farm Sanctuary, I learned about the social hierarchy in pig herds, and apparently one pig picking on the next pig is just the way things are done. I just don't like it though; I keep thinking how awful it would be to be the smaller pig and to know that I was going to be pushed around every day. I don't know though, is it something that bothers them the way it would me? or is it just something they accept?
The thing that I worry about most though, when it comes to Riley and Tuni, is the weather. It has been so very cold here recently, and there are few things in this world that I find more uncomfortable than cold. Since I, obviously, can't bring them inside I keep wondering what I can do to make things more comfortable for them. I imagine them laying in the barn huddled and shivering. Then I look out in the field and see them walking around in the ice and snow, seemingly oblivious to the frigid temperatures.
For the most part, I have basically lived under the assumption that the best way to understand another being's state of mind is to try to imagine myself in his or her situation. I'm beginning to realize though, that may not be an accurate representation. The problem is, if that doesn't work, what does? How can we know when we should be doing more to make our companion animals happy, and when we should just accept that they have different needs than we do?
As much as I would like to, this is just not feasible when you're talking about pigs.