No time to post! So here’s the discussion topic for today, inspired by TwissB’s comment on a recent post.
Pets: wholesome, mutually satisfying relationship, or slavery?
I had the misfortune yesterday, while driving through the picturesque Texas hill country in the rain — (that’s right, I said “rain.” It hasn’t rained here since about 1839. My sidekick Stingray called me up, a nervous edge to her voice. “The air is all wet!” she said, “what the fuck is happening?” “Don’t worry,” I said, “I just Googled it. It’s only Jesus crying tears of joy because the American military finally smoked Bin Laden out of his hole. Go USA!”) — to hear a radio interview with Alice Walker. Walker has a new book out about the spiritual awesomeness of keeping chickens in her back yard.
Walker, it turns out, doesn’t eat her chickens. She adores them instead. She actually writes them love letters when she travels around cavorting with exiled religious leaders, referring to herself as their mother in the third person, à la: “Mama met the Dalai Lama today in his palace. Mama doesn’t think they should call it a palace, as that’s pretty fuckin classist.” (I paraphrase.).
It is nauseating when popular authors infantilize and anthropomorphize and write letters to pet animals, so I had to turn this interview off. But not before I started considering what it means to live with domesticated animals.
I live with a couple of dogs and horses. It is a problematic scenario. Wild equines would never let me get within 200 yards of them, much less tie them to a post and pick the rocks out of their feet. Wild canids would rather rip my throat out and feed me to their young than drop rubber balls in my lap as I snooze in the lime green recliner. The domestic animals at El Rancho Deluxe didn’t choose to live here. I have all the power in our relationship. They depend on me for everything. Rightly or wrongly, they are the product of thousands of years of human interference with the evolution of their species that has made them ill-equipped to go native.
If I turned them loose they would probably have a pretty high time for a while, but eventually, if they didn’t come back on their own, something crappy would happen to them. The dogs would lose a fight with a feral hog, or get shot by a hunter, or starve because they don’t know how to catch squirrels. The horses would get hung up on barbed wire fences, or get caught by some farmer who’ll sell’em at auction to kill buyers who’ll truck’em to Mexico for slaughter. Or any one of a gazillion unpleasant scenarios.
Given that the domestication process, product of patriarchal oppression though it be, is a done deal, and that these animals exist, and that “setting them free” is not an alternative, the only options are a) keep them alive using the best possible stewardship practices, or b) euth’em.
Please puke forth thy views in the comments.