"My father was a mild, kind gentleman who spent his working life in a slaughterhouse. He never liked the job. He believed the animals were aware of their impending doom. I took this with a pinch of salt until I observed how my Welsh collie behaved.
Though father would have washed and changed before he returned home from work, if the dog encountered him he would shake with fear. We would try to console him, but it would take quite some time to calm him down.
What frightened the dog?
My father said it wasn't him in particular or the smell of blood because dogs are carnivorous. It was the smell of fear."
Anyone who has ever had a dog within their family knows how sensitive, and protective, they can be.
We had a wonderful border collie, Toby, who was everyone's best friend unless, that is, he became ill at ease. He only bit someone once.
Toby didn't like 'someone' we invited into our home one evening. His lip turned up and he bared his teeth. We had to be firm, but loving, with him to make him behave. He sulked away but our visitor wouldn't let things stand, he was determined to stroke our dog. We were firm with him too and told him not to touch Toby.
During the evening the person went to Toby, when we were briefly otherwise occupied, and sure enough, as he tried to touch him, Toby snapped and bit our guest's finger drawing blood.
We were immensely embarrassed but, without going into details, I'll just say that it later proved that Toby's judgement was exactly right.
Toby eventually grew very old and was unable to walk. The vet could do no more for him so we had to agree to have him put to sleep. It was so sad but I sat on the floor next to his basket and he looked up at me, closed his eyes and leant his head on my arm.
I feel certain that Toby knew exactly what was about to happen and accepted this because he trusted me.
We lost a wonderful member of the family.
If we observe animals closely we can learn a lot.
Pea Horsley The Woman Who Talks To Animals
The Goats In Trees Coincidence
Meeting Three Young Birds In One Day
Yay for Toby. He knew. And how lucky he was to be a member of your family, Mike.ReplyDelete
When we had to put down our golden retriever, she did the same thing as Toby - just looked up at us with knowing, accepting eyes.
I've not seen the acclaimed movie about the autistic woman, Temple Grandin, who's been so influential in improving conditions in livestock slaughter plants, but I know that reducing the animals' fear is the hallmark of her animal science studies.ReplyDelete
Wonderful story about Toby. After seeing an extremely moving PBS documentary on assisted suicide, I feel strongly that the human race must address and come to terms with ethical euthanasia. If we can ease our beloved pets' sufferings, we certainly should be able to do the same for family members.
wv: diere (sounds latin, doesn't it? die-air-ee? very synchro!)
Thanks for those kind words, Trish and Rob.ReplyDelete
musingegret: There are so many animals that suffer at slaughter because of religious beliefs. I know someone who went through a marriage ceremony in Indonesia and for some inexplicable reason he had to slit a goat's throat - awful.
As for ethical euthanasia I'm an 'undecided' at the moment - even though it hurts to see a loved one suffering.
i have dogs and they all seem different. one which is close to me always knows when i'm about to come home and the other couple dont seem to care less.ReplyDelete
Lovely post :)ReplyDelete
I had a Toby too, he was also a very knowing dog. I firmly believe they understand things on a quite instinctive level, and often better than we do ourselves.
What an insightful post. I think you are right about the dog sensing the fear of the slaughterhouse. Factory farming is just plain inhumane. UghReplyDelete
I have a dog at my feet, and believe me - she can tell time, especially meal time, and she knows more than we think. I always trust her intuition about people.
Thank you Nancy, Tom and anonymous - dogs are definitely something special when it comes to intuition and understanding. Good to see there are lots of dog lovers about - though I've also had my fair share of cats as well, but they can be more aloof and independent.ReplyDelete
I never like hearing about people having to lose their pets this way, I had to put down my rabbit a few years ago and it's no fun. It still upsets me to think about. I'm glad Toby had a great life with you though :). Sounds like he was loved very much.ReplyDelete
About their sensitivity, it is very interesting. If you aren't already aware, yesterday morning there was a 7.1 earthquake in Christchurch, NZ. Although I heard no dogs here, my aunt said the dogs in her neighborhood were barking like crazy before the event, so she knew something was about to happen. I wonder what it is in dogs/animals, some sort of special sensitivity to both nature and people.