Sunday, 28 August 2011

I've been thinking

Most of you will now know that my horse, Ella is currently unwell and residing at the Royal Dick Veterinary hospital in Edinburgh.

I haven't been doing much thinking as it is taking all my time to keep up with the doing! The little bit of thinking I have been doing has been rolling around in my head, back and forth. As if to compound this I keep seeing examples everywhere I go. Yet I still can't see a solution.

I have a friend who has a way of doing things that hark back to my twenties. It makes sense and I agree with many of her thoughts morals and ideals yet I have since found that when the chips are down I have my own way of doing things. So l stand with a leg in each camp. Never seeming to fit.

I should be used to it by now as this has been the one constant in my life.

I truly believe that animals should be taught to know what you want…positive reinforcement is the way to go yet I also truly believe once an animals knows you occasionally have to butt heads when they decide, quite understandably, that they don't want to do something. So I don't fit into the absolutely no positive punishment camp or the old fashioned 'you vill do as I say' camp either.

Anyway my friend has horses, they are her livelihood and her thing. They run in small herds and if something goes wrong there are choices, a few less choices than some but still they have choices. Rest, a shot of penicillin or a lead bullet. Harsh? Possibly yet the results speak for themselves, she breeds tough, viable horses that are fit and well and if they weren't they were tough enough to pull through with some intervention.

Where am I going with all this?

Natural selection!

I blame Radio Four. And the journey up to Edinburgh. And the twelve cds or James Herriot talking books with the old fashioned way of doing things.

So few of us deal with natural selection on a daily basis that we would quiver in our boots if we were faced with it now. We don't even often deal with death or ill health. It is something that should be cured or beaten, death is something we try to pretend isn't going to happen. I get a ailment I go to the doctor and expect him to fix it, preferably instantly.

The discussion on Radio Four was fascinating. Talking about how we are still evolving but far more slowly than we ever have, modern medicines are preventing natural selection from working to its full advantage. We look forward to more ill health more serious conditions and more suffering because the unthrifty are breeding and reproducing. Don't forget we are merely mammals part of a bigger picture so getting all squiffy on me for saying this.

Dogs are still subject to natural selection yet without doubt the evolving they are doing is by the hand of human, we still cull, kill it's just not for health reasons as a rule its for preference of cosmetic ideals. What we forget is our dogs are not normal, English dogs are subject to our funny little whims and no longer have the realities of surviving unlike many of the dogs around the world. I wouldn't even begin to work out whether our lives make them more fulfilled than the street dogs around the world.

We now have millions of people, dogs, cats, horses and all manner of pets who are incapable of living without constant medicinal intervention. They can't function normally and it scares me. We have unintentionally created a monster. By trying to fix problems we have perpetuated bigger long term problems. Where do you start?

If we could start from scratch would I feed well, provide a encouraging environment then when illness strikes provide only nominal intervention leaving only the strong to survive? Yes I guess I could still play a little by keeping the spotty ones and or the big eared ones but not the sickly ones unless those sickly ones survived.

Well that rules out most of the animals I have owned, certainly Swift would have died, Buck soon after, Shy would have keeled over without his pain meds and as for Tumble he would still be screeching merrily, lucky me. Of course Ella would be no more. Mmmm difficult.

There is a cruelty to treatment too though, even watching Ella teeter on the edge, not because of the condition, whatever it is, but because of the treatment. How much is too much? Is a short extreme illness kinder than a long struggle for many years? I just don't know.

Of course nothing is black and white of course we should take advantage of the medicines available to us and our animals. I feel we need to not breed with the knowledge it is there though…how do I put it? Breed for animals that will not need it, Ella will not be bred from as I would be purposefully breeding with the definite possibility of creating a unthrifty animal. How would that be fair? Yes it might have pretty spots or a nice chunky butt but it also might have a propensity to try and die at any given moment!

My head is still bumbling along with this….it leads onto so many other things, Hitler and his plans, the lifestyles our animals lead, the new panic about removing diseases from breeds without the knowledge that you can't just remove one problem without affecting the whole system and what we consider to be the facts now only to be looked on in disbelief in the years to come.

Wow how about that for a cheery note? As a very interesting lady I have recently connected with has said we need to think about this, you and me and not just the people in power, the breeders and the vets. We are the ones in that can make decisions. Lets not hide behind our illusions and delusions.

I promise I will have a cheery post sometime soon! Have you joined Facebook yet? No wow you are missing out on the PetNanny Supernanny fun….

The friend in question send me this hilarious youtube video:

Good taste? Probably not!


  1. ... but did you laugh and does the badger remind you of Mark?!