And the black rhino enters oblivion

Cnn reports the Black Rhino has been declared extinct. Gee, I wonder what all those men needing rhino horns for their hard-ons will do now? Assholes.

Robert James Waller became rich and rather famous with his Bridges of Madison County, but he is a fine writer of essays, and among my favorites is in a bookcalled “Old Songs in a New Cafe.” The essay, entitled, My Name Is Orange Band, is written from the perspective of the last dusky seaside sparrow, who died in 1987. There is a lot of anthropomorphizing–we are talking about a sparrow after all–and yet I strongly suspect that even sparrows know when he is dying utterly alone.

Photographing elderly animals

Beloved Fboo friend Kenneth O’Brien sent this story around, from the New York Times, on Isa Leshko’s photographs of elderly animals. Go see her lovely photographs here. Her artist commentary at the NYT is worth reading.

I regularly adopt older animals from shelters, and it’s always a roller coaster. You love them, then you lose them. But I don’t really fear dying much anymore. I have reached the age where, as Bill Clinton said, you realize that whatever happens to you doesn’t really matter much. Giving a few months of comfort and affection to an old dog or cat is worth a few tears of grief when they leave you for their next adventure.

Reductively reducing animals and inflating ourselves

There’s a new slew of dog psychology books out there now. Here are some reviews, from Adam Gropnik in the New Yorker and from the Economist. It’s all a big race to explain to us that dogs don’t have human emotions, again, and they are responding to us, and they don’t have complex intelligence as those sentimental dog owners ascribe to them, etc. Which might have been gleaned from the fact that dogs have yet to invent, let alone operate, the personal computer.

What rubs me the wrong way about people like Gropnik who write about dogs is less their desire to intellectually put down sentimentalism about animals. I could care less what anybody thinks about my likes and dislikes or what I get attached to. It also doesn’t annoy me that people want to debunk the idea that dogs (or other animals) have complex emotions.

It’s that they assume that humans do have complex emotions by contrast, and I’m not convinced that ours are really that all-fired evolved. We have a lot of language about emotions, and a lot of stories But having a lot of words to describe something doesn’t mean the differences between the objects described are all that real.

So, supposedly, dogs don’t feel jealousy. They just feel their needs, what they want. So I have a dog that routinely hip-checks the other one out of the way when there is affection being handed out. That’s not jealousy according to this thinking, that’s, supposedly, want–a want for affection. The other dog is just incidental. But what is jealousy at all if not want? I’m jealous that a colleague of mine receives constant praise and attention from the senior faculty. But it’s less about the other person and more about just plain wanting a word of praise now and then, which I suppose reflects poorly on me but strikes me as–in a 100 percent honest world–perfectly natural to want to be told you’re doing a good job once in awhile.

What is grief but want, really–the searing pain of a loss of somebody or something wanted?

I keep dogs because they are cute and fuzzy and make me laugh. It’s a need for diversion. They give me something to think about other than myself, and they are less complicated than the super-geniuses I’m surrounded by on a daily basis.

Sarah Palin puts those bedwetting animal eaters to shame

Unlike those of the rest of us who merely sit by and consume animals that others have killed, she goes out and feeds her family off the land, by shooting and killing animals to feed her family* like the rootingest tootingest shootingest gun in the wild west that she is.

*via proceeds gotten by being paid for killing animals for the entertainment of other people via a reality show on cable television. NATURE!!**


And here’s the reality of the reality of the reality: shooting things is mostly just kind of…sad and meh. Next up on the learning channel: Michael Vick’s World of Dogs!

**In her defense, tuition at Bible college is expensive and she has a lot of kids.

Service animals and coming back to life

The NYT ran a story yesterday about dogs trained to help veterans learn to deal with anxiety and post-traumatic stress, enabling them to reduce or eliminate anxiety medicine: For the Battle-Scarred, Comfort at Leash’s End –

I have a running list about why dogs are better than people. Yes, dogs do disgusting things and it’s important not to sentimentalize them (why it’s important, I’m not sure, but you have to say that otherwise people get on your case). But here’s part of my list:

1. Dogs don’t schedule pointless meetings on my outlook.

2. Dogs do not talk about themselves constantly.

3. Dogs don’t write shitty reviews.

4. Dogs don’t care about grades (though Border Collies and Dobies might);

5. Dogs derive tremendous utility from wandering around with you.

6. As a Dug from the movie Up points out: “I just met you and I already looooooooove you.”

Kat Martindale discusses legislative change and elders pet ownership

Pets and the City: The Limits of Living with Companion Animals « Kat Martindale

My only quibble is that there is nothing inherent about the limits of companion animals here…the limit is the framing of the problem among people who shelter elders and who don’t want to deal with an extra set of problems to manage, the mess, or the expense.