Friday, February 27, 2015

Ⓥ How Much Like Us?

I have always found it very difficult to decide where to draw the line when it comes to treating non-human animals as equal to humans. I believe wholeheartedly that they deserve every bit of consideration that humans do. The problem is that there are some inherent differences in the way they think and feel versus the way we do. How are we ever to know how things really affect them?

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.


  1. I think 'that' is right, but you have to add the fact that you're much more conscious of things in general... than a dog will be or want to be. My tip is. you have a barrier to break, because in my opinion there's not much difference between us mammals and probably is not a huge stretch to a fly, only 2% of dna different than us. They like mud, we like waterfalls, they like to fly, we can't... and they can't invent a plane. And so and so. Break the skin of duality. They feel cold, we feel cold, we are aware, they are aware. We just happen to be prone to be self-centered. If you are educated to fight the one at your side, that's what you'll do. In a herd there's not much space for patience or wisdom. So they fight. In the city can be the same at other level. We, mammals... well mammals in general are the way of the early education, the first years... the firts things we learn. So... that's why some 'pets' are calm and others are not. Depends on their record to acess situations. The huge difference is that we can, as humans, deriberately, change this early records or at least change certain responses to it. In the comedy Being Jonh Malcovich there's a funny scene of the monkey bypassing his childhood trauma when faced with a similar scenario... well you got the volatile idea.