Sunday, June 22, 2008

Old Dogs: Survival of the Fittest

Recently, I've heard people justifying doing nothing about the dreaded global warming because it is, they claim, a matter of survival of the fittest.

As if humans would know anything about that.

There is nothing, they say, as natural as ice ages and sudden shifts of temperature. Didn't that happen thousands of years ago. Wasn't that what killed off the dinosaurs or woolly mammoths? Should humans really worry if an animal goes extinct? Isn't that natural evolution?

Please tell me what is more unnatural than the life that humans have built? Living in deserts by bringing in contraptions that make the day time temperature a livable 65 degrees as opposed to 100 plus? Or how about all the chemicals they use to maintain their hair?

Think of all the hospitals that house the sick in attempts to save them from death. Think of all the money spent in attempts to circumvent nature. What is more natural than dying of a disease? Certainly there is nothing natural about the cure.

There is nothing natural about cows kept safe from wolves and other predators. There is nothing natural about some of the dogs, cats, horses and other domestic animals bred. Let a pug loose in the wild and see how well even a pack of pugs do in nature.

I'm not saying this is necessarily wrong, but by allowing the weak, the sick, the unfit to survive, there come certain responsibilities. Those range from knowing when to say good-bye to a sick relative or pet to figuring out what is required to correct the unbalance created by the unnatural choices made.

In truth, humans are a sentimental bunch who have rules against things like murder, stealing and duress--all very natural things in the animal world.

And yet, as I grow old, I, too, enjoy the unnatural cool created by AC and the comfort of furniture and bedding. When I am past my prime, I do not fear being left behind by my human friend in my forever home. There is something to be said about the gentle human heart that perhaps dogs can benefit, but global warming is not a problem that a dog can resolve.

So should you humans be tempted to speak of survival of the fittest, remember what that really means. In the world of animals it means that the weak, the sick and the old are left behind to die. There is no social welfare. It means that murder, assault and battery are how ownership of a territory is decided. It means that comfort is found with the group and that once a member is of not use to the group, that weak link is left behind. The group, the pack, the herd is everything.

Survival of the fittest is a kind of world that humans seem to be dead set against, at least for their own kind and their favored domesticated animal friends and acquaintances. And thus, the responsibility for fighting global warming is a human debt to be paid to the earth and the pack of animals of all species.

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Eulogy for a Cat

Dear Gentle Readers,

It often puzzles me that some pet owners are so concerned about cats being able to live and roam because to keep them confined would be a cruelty. Imagine how frustrating it must be for a cat not to be able to wander freely.

Equally odd, is how the same courtesy isn't extended toward dogs so often. Of course, there are owners who do allow their dogs to roam and breed without a thought about tomorrow's puppies, piles of doggie doo in the neighbors' yards, terrorized cats, home/yard invasions resulting in dog fights, dead rabbits or guinea pigs or even dead or mauled children.

Yes, in the case of a cat, one only has to worry about spreading feline leukemia, cat scratch fever, arousing sleeping dogs at all hours of the day and night to bark their heads off, yowling cats breeding noisily in a serenade that no neighbor really loves and neighbors finding cat poo in their favorite flower beds. Yes, indeed, a roaming feline is nothing to worry about and not a trouble to one's neighbor as a dog would be.

Yet what I write about tonight is a eulogy for a lovely, well-fed gray cat. The cat was large and escaped becoming coyote appetizer. Instead the cat was hit by a car yesterday evening, sometime before 7 p.m. My secretary, on her way to pick up something, passed over the cat and, seeing its open eyes circled back.

The body was intact except for the strange twist of the spine that left the hind legs facing the opposite directions of its forepaws. Positioned just right in the number two lane, the cat was passed over by car after car. The body was not yet stiff and when my secretary was able to get a man living nearby to deposit the body in a box, it was still supple and warm. There was no collar; no owner shall be notified.

If you have never seen, or for us canines, smelled, an animal that has been hit by a car and squished messily over the road, you are lucky. It is a sad and doubtlessly painful way to die. For the tender-hearted person who might accidentally hit the animal, it is heartbreaking. Then one should curse the owner who indulgently allowed their pets to roam. Unless one can teach a cat to properly cross streets, do not let your cat roam outdoors. Perhaps you don't care about the kind of nuisance a loose cat is in any neighborhood, perhaps you don't care if your cat becomes a nibble for a coyote, but you will may never now how many auto accidents or near accidents your cat may cause and even more sadly, you may never know how and where your cat dies.

Is that love? I think not.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Collies in Need

Sometimes Lassie can't come home or even wants to go home because home is not a pleasant place.

While not as bad or extensive as the Montana collie case, these two cases in different areas of the US, call for someone who might by chance want a collie, want to help a collie or want to help those already helping collies.

The 2003 Montana collie case involved 170 dogs, mostly collies, owned by a breeder who was transporting them from Alaska to Arizona under questionable conditions.

These two current cases resulted from two separate 2007 animal seizures. In one case, a breeder by the last name of Seeley had 19 collies confiscated--nine of which still need homes. They are held at the SPCA of Upstate NY in Queensbury. They were and apparently are still mainly confined to crates and cages.

Twenty collies and three dachschunds were originally seized on 17 October 2007 from the home of John and Jane Seeley. They are referred to as the Seeley collies. Adopters can count on the support of AWCA or the American Working Collie Association.

The other case, according to the Utah Collies Rescue Website, will be nationally televised on Animal Planet as a Petfinder TV show. This involves about 51 collies seized from Elaine Kmiec from Tomball, Texas. Ten of these were to be adopted out by Animal Planet to have their stories aired in 2008. The rest were turned over to Houston Collie Rescue.

Houston Collie Rescue called out for help and the following rescues took some dogs:

Northern California Collie Rescue
Pueblo Collie and Sheltie Rescue
Southwest Collie Rescue
Utah Collies Rescue

I, too, was once a collie rescued by a breed rescue (In my case, Southland Collie Rescue).That is another story and one that, unfortunately, is repeated every day all over the world.